Hindustan Unilever is sending its employees to work at startups, here’s why

Hindustan Unilever is sending its employees to work at startups, here’s why Hindustan Unilever is looking forward to sending some of its executives to work at startups. The company believes that this will help its employees in getting an entrepreneurial mindset and agility.

The company, under the Entrepreneurial Immersion and Secondment initiative, will be sending its staff to startups for time period ranging from three months to two years.

Those staying away for up to a year under the programme will be on HUL's payroll, while the cost on the rest will be shared by the company and the startups that host them.

"In an extremely dynamic environment, this is an opportunity for leaders to experience different business models and instil an end-to-end mindset. We want people to be entrepreneurial as they work in a large company - not to take resources or infrastructure for granted, but to approach everything with an owner's mindset,” BP Biddappa, executive director for HR, told ET.

Initially, the startups will be selected from the list of startups in which Unilever Ventures has invested directly or indirectly. It will encompass the entire startup ecosystem later.


Last year, HUL short-listed 10 startups, giving them access to a part of its business and other resources including mentors. In return, the company would gain access to new technologies in engaging consumers, shoppers, or the way it distributes products. The HUL executives enrolled under the initiative typically have 7-12 years of experience.

However, an issue that the company may face is the possibility of them deciding to stay on in the startup and not returning to HUL.

"While we see this as a longer, leadership-development exercise, we are happy to experiment and, if he or she can create value in the startup space, we're happy to take the chance,” Biddappa told ET.