Future of Work: The Exciting New Story of Indian Startups

 /  By Antje Thoms

Blurb: How will work evolve for businesses? Who will do it? How to manage its demand and supply? These questions keep the management community pondering.

In the future, there will be a rise in the number of gig workers. They will be data-literate, respectful, and empowered. They will be comfortable working with artificial intelligence or AI, machine learning, and robots. This is how work will evolve.

At Bertelsmann India Investments (BII), we mentor and turn growth-stage companies into unicorns. We handle the changing fabric of work. We focus on early growth stage investments (Series A to D) in the Indian market.

The new Bertelsmann Boost program is all set to double its investments in India. As a sector-agnostic venture capital fund, we feel India’s commendable startup ecosystem has just about started to play itself out across sectors. It empowers India’s human capital to be leveraged for the global stage.

Gig work or freelancing activities have been redefining the ‘future of work’ in the Indian startup arena. A gig is a non-standard, temporary, income-earning job performed on an on-demand basis.

Since the regular, long-term employer-employee understanding doesn’t bind this form of work, a chunk of the fixed people-costs can be done away with. When a part of a business’s people costs become variable, they can be incurred on a need basis only.

Enterprises look forward to this transition, but without compromising quality. Freelancers or gig workers, who represent the supply side, deliver quality, without which they can’t get work assigned.

Let’s look at the freelancing landscape or the supply side of the equation. Unemployment in June 2022, for instance, left only 36% of the working-age population of India with meaningful jobs.

Interestingly enough, there are 160 million homemakers in the country. Out of this diverse group of individuals,10 to 12 million are job-skilled and employable. Even India’s PM, Mr Narendra Modi, has called work-from-home an enabler of women’s contribution to the nation’s labour force. This is the surest indicator of the mainstreaming of gig work.

Future of work case studies

Providing quality gig jobs creates significant value for clients and their founders’ vision in rethinking employability. As BII readies to deepen and expand its engagements in India, its Future of Work-related investments take on greater significance.

BII has made two strategic investments in Future of Work: SquadStack and Awign. Both companies extensively use gig workers and AI in their business operations.


SquadStack partners with job-skilled homemakers, existing call centre executives, and fresh graduates. Such opportunities enable them to start/restart their work lives in the gig economy.

Freelancing or gig jobs are aspirational and can build lifelong careers. There are pre-screening tests with an acceptance rate of 10%. It ensures only the best sales agents get onboarded. After rigorous training, the agents get to do sales calls.

SquadStack’s clients see up to 2-8x revenue growth every year. Around 2,700 SquadStack agents cater essentially to the financial services sector. They get regular performance feedback, which allows them to learn, grow and earn more than they would have from traditional call centres. The attrition rate is nearly half that of traditional call centres.

In SquadStack, gig workers are treated on par with customers. It has improved its performance considerably. One of its customers, Upstox, saw its lead conversion rate spike from 22 to 33% within six months of associating with SquadStack.

Another customer, ZestMoney, used to find it challenging to scale up their customer care team. Their goal was to process customer requests on the same day. SquadStack helped them process 63 lakh+ customer requests in a few months.

Dr Vaidya, a client, said that working with SquadIQ was like an extension of one’s own company. Monitoring quality control, scaling up campaigns, handling volumes, or linking cost to efficiency were achievable.

SquadStack’s remote workforce is provided with data, AI and the latest technology. It also has cutting-edge data controls and the latest privacy standards. It enables better conversion rates and information security than traditional call centres.


Awign is India’s largest technology-enabled, on-demand work fulfilment platform. It has made it possible to democratise work.

Awign deploys and manages the largest distributed gig workforce with pan-India deployability. It handles several core business functions of clients and takes full responsibility for the work.

Awign trains gig workers and breaks down tasks into simpler chunks for them. This way, Awign has high task success rates and shows long-term customer stickiness or retention.

This company’s workforce comprises gig workers, fresh graduates, retired professionals, blue-collar workers, and domain experts with time on their hands to work on gigs.

For BII, Awign represents an exciting sector to remain invested in. The company’s proprietary tech stack simplifies complex jobs into smaller gigs. The platform has automatic, process-wise quality controls. It helps gig workers do quality jobs.

What makes gig work relevant and exciting?

Indian startups are reimagining the future of work by organising freelancer networks or gigification to address clients’ needs. There is a rapid untangling of complex work into simpler tasks to redefine employability. That is the future of work that BII endorses; its benefits accrue to both employers and employees.

Gig work focuses on building beneficial relationships. The improvement in digital experience improves onboarding. This makes gig workers productive from day one.

Reorganisations are no longer location-dependent. There is an optimisation of the digital experience across the employee journey. Various tools are used to derive insights from the data to benefit employers and employees. This reduces employee churn.

The future of recruitment solutions

Among BII’s areas of interest are recruitment solutions. The new playbook for recruitment will include upskilling, tracking new metrics, and adopting new technologies. Talent acquisition must take on a more strategic and visible role within organisations.

There will be an increased emphasis on workforce diversity and knowledge base. It underscores the need for high-quality tech hiring, which is quite challenging.

Chatbots will start playing significant roles in pre-screening and scheduling candidates. Other aspects of recruitment automation will enter the recruitment process – AI automation, video and digital integration. The use of recruitment data will let candidates get jobs based on their skills as well as potential.

Final word

By now, BII has invested in and mentored many category-defining companies, including Eruditus, Licious, Shiprocket, Pepperfry, and Vymo. The future of work indicates a one-directional shift in how organisations will get their work done. If you are an entrepreneur willing to scale your workforce, get in touch with the BII team.

CTA – Visit the BII website and follow BII on LinkedIn.