For overseas expansion, startups look to hire foreign Ivy League interns

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As they prepare to expand overseas, Indian startups like Droom, Pepperfry and HealthifyMe are planning to hire foreign students from top universities including Ivy League schools for newer markets. Foreign interns are being hired ahead of expansion in order to not only familiarize them with the company's operations but also prepare a pool of manpower for handling overseas markets.

For instance, Droom, an online marketplace for buying and selling used cars, started by ShopClues founder Sandeep Aggarwal, has started a 'Global Internship Program'.  Under the program, the startup has been closely working with B-schools, primarily in the US, Canada and UK for attracting talent for internships at its India office. 

"If we want to be a global name we want to have a global talent.. So, this year we will be hosting for the first time management and engineering interns from the likes of Harvard, Wharton and Stanford under the Global Internship Program. Hopefully, a lot of them will go back with full-time job offers. As we expand internationally this year, we also feel that people coming from different background and geographies will only add to the operations at Droom," said Aggarwal.

Having already set up a subsidiary in the US, Droom is now looking at expansion into Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines in the first half of this year, followed by South Asian and MENA region in the second half. 

"The foreign interns will be working from our Indian office and will be eventually deployed at our new international locations such as Indonesia or Philippines," said Aggarwal.

For online furniture marketplace Pepperfry and lifestyle tracking platform HealthifyMe who are also working on building their global footprint, the move will happen by early next year. 

"We are looking to expand. However, we don't have any program for foreign interns going on. But as we scale, this is something that we are evaluating. It will be slightly longer than this year as in early part of next year when our expansion would have become more meaningful," said Ambareesh Murty, co-founder, Pepperfry. The online furniture player is looking at markets such as Middle East, Australia and South East Asia based on the favourable demographics in these regions. 

Among these, HealthifyMe already boasts of interns from the likes of MIT Sloan, and Columbia University who have worked for their Indian operations. However, going forward, the startup which is expanding its footprint into Latin America, Middle East and South East Asia, is looking at hiring interns next year from the top global universities for these markets.

"Hiring locally for global market will happen next year for us. So far, we have had interns from MIT Sloan and Columbia University for profiles of computer science, data science and management. We already have Stanford and other Ivy League alumni working with us but these are the ones who have relocated here," said Tushar Vashisht, co-founder and CEO of HealthifyMe which annually hires around 6-8 interns, 20 per cent of which come from abroad.

It is, however, the stipends where these startups vary a bit. While Droom offers a monthly stipend of Rs 75000 along with other amenities for international interns as against Rs 25000 for domestic interns from within India, Pepperfry offers anywhere between Rs 30000 and Rs 50000 per month.

HealthifyMe, on the other hand, offers the same stipend package for both domestic and international interns in the range of Rs 15000-20000 per month.

With most of the overseas expansion yet to fully take shape, the startups are hiring interns in the general management categories, even as they intend to hire for specific roles as operations gather momentum in the newer markets.

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