BigBasket lost 80% workforce in 2 days of lockdown, says CEO


Online grocery service provider BigBasket lost 80 per cent of their workforce in the first two days of India’s nationwide lockdown owing to the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19 pandemic, said the company’s co-founder and CEO.

During the virtually held ‘Isha Insight: The DNA of Success’ session, Hari Menon said that BigBasket had to recruit over 12,000 people in 16 days.

He spoke about how his company went on to face lockdown-induced challenges and meet the growing demand for home-delivered groceries at the three-day leadership intensive programme for CEOs/CXOs.

In a conversation with BS Nagesh, founder of Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN), Menon said that his leadership style was about giving employees the rope and the freedom to climb or tie a noose with it while enabling them to climb it.

He believed that if the managers understood and implemented this method, it would trickle down to every employee, he said. 

Despite the challenges faced amid the pandemic, their business had done extremely well, while following the ‘do more with less’ mantra, he added. 

Regarding Big Basket’s procurement experience from over 16,000 farmers, he observed that youngsters were taking up farming and that the farmer would be able to gain more control over his activity and business from the middlemen in about five years from now. 

Menon also made predictions about brick and mortar stores in India.

“The neighbourhood shops would move from WhatsApp to websites, thus making the element of service more important,” he observed. 

Inaugurating the virtual event, Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha Foundation, said, “With sheer consciousness and responsible action, businesses can not only ride the pandemic storm but rise above it.”

While addressing the business CEOs and CXOs, he said, “As a leader, you need insight. You can get all the people who know the subject and do the business. Insight will happen when you see something not necessarily in the logical perspective of the data in your mind. For this, you have to bring clarity of perception.”

He urged the participants to be challenge-seeking entrepreneurs and not employment seekers and said that they must continue to rise above the challenges presented by the pandemic and the economic fallout.

“You must be behind the wheel, putting your shoulder to the wheel, so that it goes faster and creates possibilities. If you’re on the other side of the wheel, you’ll get crushed,” he added.

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