When TinyOwl, one of the very well-known startups in the food industry, decided to close operations in Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Delhi, earlier this week, little did they know about the chaos that awaited them.
“The current strategic focus for us as a company is to build TinyOwl as a sustainable, profitable and scalable business, working towards the ‘big dream’. With the current take rate being 45-60, we are looking at a more commensurate operational structure,” Harshvardhan Mandad, CEO and co-founder had said in a released statement.
To execute the shutting down of offices in the respective cities, and to give employees a more ‘human’ layoff, each of the 4 co-founders – Shikhar Paliwal, Gaurav Choudhary and Tanuj Khandelwal, Saurabh Goyal – decided to pick one city each. From here things went massively down the spiral for Gaurav Choudhary who had traveled from Mumbai to Pune office.
Not only was he met with current disgruntled employees, who accused him of playing with their careers, he also had to face former employees who were fired in September, and had not received their promised compensation.
“This is the second job I’ve lost in a foodtech industry. I was working for FoodPanda last year and suddenly they acquired TastyKhana, and boom, we were not needed anymore. They decided to keep the sales guys of that company. My resume looks so bad now,” an un-named employee told YourStory.
Another employee, shedding light on the matter, said, “With the September layoffs, their number came down to 850. Mid-October they came down to 650. They want to bring it down to 500 by December. They fired most of us, including our managers, but have given some people time till December 5 to find new jobs and move on.”
According to multiple reports, the recently fired employees were offered post-dated cheques, while previous employees are still checking in for their final settlements from two months ago.
To show their state of utter despair, and disappointment, and to protest the lack of money, almost 30 employees have held Gaurav Choudhary hostage in the Pune office, demanding justice.
“We are not going to let this founder go. He is holed up in the office and we are not going to budge without a proper commitment regarding the future…our future. We are waiting for some answers, and we deserve better treatment,” one of the employees said.
Another women employee stated that everyone in the office was sleeping on the floors, like a family, and were awaken by Choudhary trying to sneak out for a board meeting at 10.
Since then, the office has become a camp-site for various media outlets, along with a few politicians who have been present since yesterday, under the pretense of mitigating the situation.
“If you’re only a manager, why have they (TinyOwl) dumped this work on you, and run away? Call the concerned person if this is not your headache,” a man leading the political group asked Choudhary, as reported by MediaNama.
According to a recent update: Choudhary has been set free today evening, after 2 days in the Pune office, and is on his way back to Mumbai.
The images were from Medianama.