As if phraseologies like ‘drug mafia’ or ‘movie mafia’ weren’t exciting the hipsters enough that even a legally run business had to be suffixed with this dreaded jargon ‘mafia’! Flipkart, we know, is the ‘don’ of online shopping in India (only figuratively we mean, don’t you worry!). But do you want to know why and how did this term, mostly associated with crime, got associated with one of the most cherished Indian startups?
Interesting, isn't it?
This term was invented around 2007, to denote a set of former PayPal employees, who teamed up after quitting their jobs to ideate, fund, and found some of the leading tech companies of the world, such as Tesla, Inc., LinkedIn, SpaceX, YouTube, Uber, Airbnb, Yelp, etc., all of which eventually made huge fortunes.
Money talks – as they say – and it sort of yelped in this case because in just a few years half a dozen of those tech-preneurs became billionaires.
Quite a story isn’t it?
A similar thing happened with Amazon, where two ex-employees of the American eCommerce giant, Sachin, and Binny Bansal, dropped the company to found a new Indian eCommerce firm, Flipkart. Little did they know that this new company would be ushering in the new era of online marketplaces for the country, much like the companies founded by ex-Paypal employees.
Destiny worked in similar ways even with Flipkart, whose ex-employees continued to form new businesses and startups. Therefore, when a bunch of former Flipkart-ians aka ‘Flipsters’ did the same, i.e., build bold tech startups by deploying their innovative ideas and investing their genius selves, they were called ‘Flipkart Mafia’.
Yeah! And among these "mafias" some of them turned millionaires soon after if you are wondering!
Flipkart has been a popular cradle to the latest bunch of over 200 startups because it looks for ‘audacity’ in its employees - entrepreneurial spirit and appropriate skill set that is in the words of its ex-COO of Flipkart-
No wonder so many of its employees went on to become successful entrepreneurs, he adds. Apart from that, he also claims that Flipkart has a very open culture. One which weighs ideas above ranks. Also a deeply engineering technology driven outlook which searches for knack for problem solving as a major quality in its people. No doubt such an ambience bred quite a few notable founders & their inventive startups. Let’s take a look.
Not all dreams come true but the Flipkart mafia has more than a few great ones.
It is not us who are proclaiming it merely out of some ‘new India / startup India-themed optimism', nor it is the published data from the Govt. of India, but the market, businesses, and direct customers and consumers, who have placed their faith in these tech startups founded, funded or supported by Flipkart mafia (Flipsters) that says so. The list is long, so we picked some of the most talked-about companies.
Let's look at the startups founded by Flipkart Mafia.
Founders: Amod Malviya, Sujeet Kumar, and Vaibhav Gupta
Udaan was founded by ex-employees of Flipkart employees, Amod Malviya, Sujeet Kumar, Vaibhav Gupta, this startup perfectly fits its name ‘Udaan’. That is to say, Udaan gives wings to millions of entrepreneurs running India’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that are the blood and bone of the Indian economy.
It is one of the largest Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce platforms connecting retailers, traders, wholesalers, manufacturers, importers etc. with the power of the internet.
Udaan can be used by the businesses to:
- Buy and sell on their own terms while the payments, security and logistics are handled by the company.
- Grow and discover by accessing new regions and markets.
- Connect in their own language with prospective buyers/sellers via a personalized real-time chat facility. Thus, it makes doing business easy, convenient and also efficient.
Udaan hailed as a unicorn, has raised around $1.2 billion in just 5 years over the 6 rounds of funding that it received from 13 investors in total.
Founders: Sachin Bansal, Ankit Agarwal
Navi Technologies is an emerging unicorn, which taps into the immense potential of the BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance) sector, having created a lending app that offers paperless personal/home loans to consumers with just a few clicks.
Navi Technologies is founded by Flipkart founder, Sachin Bansal, conceptualized by him right after Walmart bought Flipkart in Dec 2018. Having raised $500+ million in 5 rounds of funding by 14 investors in just 2 years. It sure has vital investor confidence.
Founders: Sameer Nigam, Rahul Chari, and Burzin Engineer
How can we not talk about this mobile payment app, which revolutionized digital payments for Indians?
PhonePe took on Paytm, which simply wasn’t easy when ‘Paytm Karo jingle became synonymous with digital literacy.
It was acquired by Flipkart within a year of existence. This says a lot about its acceptance as a one-stop solution for all kinds of transactions by all kinds of users i.e., individual as well as business users. And it sure is gaining popularity, revealing its growth figures, 25 Crore users leading with 40% share of all UPI transactions. It has raised over $1 billion investment so far, one but all from its parent Flipkart.
Having the privilege to witness India’s growth story so closely Burzin Engineer, Rahul Chari, Sameer Nigam have certainly made something to be extremely proud of!
Founders: Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Ishan Bansal and Neeraj Singh
Investing is a futuristic goal, likewise, a startup in this sector in India is futuristic too. Out of a billion people, less than 1% invest in the share market. Sensing the need of you and me to invest in return rich stocks, mutual funds, gold, and more from the safety and convenience of our homes, this online venture was started by Harsh Jain, Ishan Bansal, Lalit Keshre, and Neeraj Singh.
It has amassed 10+ million users already, and those who vouch for the platform claim that it makes investing simple and fun. What more can one ask for when it comes to managing our savings and finances!
Founders: Sanchit Mittal, Anand Ayyadurai
Rent, ride and return are what Vogo says. Whether you are new to the city, or you don’t want the headache of owning an automobile, or even you are on a short vacation wanting to explore the city without getting stuck in mindless traffic – worry not because Vego will rent you a bike from the word go. All you need to know is how to ride a two-wheeler.
It has seen over $180 million in funding from 21 investors. This dockless rental service is the brainchild of Anand Ayyadurai, Balakrishnan Padmanabhan and Sanchit Mittal. Technology has clearly inspired some great ideas to kick start.
Founders: Mukesh Bansal, Ankit Nagori
Fitness is something that fires the imagination of youth as much as money, fame and love because one naturally flows from the other. A fit body houses a fit mind, is an adage as old and as true as science itself. Yet, the importance of good health can never be overstressed.
Cure.fit takes this into consideration and has designed multiple fitness programs for each type of customer – the dance lover, Yoga enthusiast, meditative type or the diet freak. Online classes as well as physical fitness centres. They have it all.
No wonder it picked up like rage among millennials who have no time or opportunity for health tips from multiple sources but need one wise website to do that for them. Quite a generation shift eh?
Ankit Nagori, Mukesh Bansal are responsible for pushing this shift further. Going by the number of investors showing interest in this venture (32) and the number of acquisitions it has already made (8), this company looks pretty healthy and why not!
Founders: Punit Soni
Suki isn’t a Chinese app or a China-based company. Our very own ex-Flipkart members Punit Soni, Anshu Sharma and Karthik Rajan visualized this next-gen AI-powered, voice-enabled digital assistant for doctors. It is headquartered in California, US.
Suki aims to assist healthcare workers in their routine tasks, such as dictating notes, retrieving information, and other mundane admin tasks. Now, doctors could focus on managing diseases, not files.
Founders: Shivakumar Ganesan, Ishwar Sridharan, and Siddharth Ramesh
Exotel was founded in 2011, by Shivakumar Ganesan, Ishwar Sridharan, and Siddharth Ramesh. Exotel is a cloud telephony platform that empowers small and medium-scale companies to carry on with their usual work seamlessly.
The company was formed by Shivakumar Ganesan, as an offshoot of his previous company, Roopit. While working on Roopit, Shivakumar discovered that he would be needing an automated call center solution to streamline their work processes. This eventually emerged as a standalone company that goes by the name Exotel.
Among the founders of Exotel, Shivakumar Ganesan was initially with Flipkart, where he worked as the Vice President - Products and Technology.
Founders: Khushnud Khan, Rishi Raj Rathore
Arzooo is a retail tech platform that works on a B2B business model. It was founded by Khushnud Khan, Rishi Raj Rathore in October 2018.
Arzooo is known as the fastest-growing tech retail company that is empowering the physical retail business to embrace digital ways. The brand boasts of being connected with 100+, powering 5000+ stores with its business operating in 10+ cities to date.
Both the founders of the platform were ex-employees of the retail giant, Flipkart, making Arzooo a classic example of a company formed by Flipkart mafias. Khushnud Khan, was an Associate Director, Retail and worked for 3 years in the firm whereas Rathore worked in the Product Management department and served Flipkart for 2 years.
Founders: Mudit Krishna Mathur, Parminder Singh, Varun Ramamurthy Dinakar
Hansel.io was founded in 2016 by Mudit Krishna Mathur, Parminder Singh, and Varun Ramamurthy Dinakar. Hansel is built as a B2B enterprise software that resolves the runtime issues of the mobile apps, thereby removing the need to update them frequently.
Hansel derives its name from the famous folklore “Hansel and Gretel.” According to Varun, one of the co-founders of the company, they have named it Hansel because it is quite similar to the story of the novel where two children were left to die in the woods but Hansel founds their way back, bringing him and Gretel to safety He says that Hansel, their company, is to bring the mobile apps, Gretels, safely back home.
All of the co-founders trace their way back to Flipkart, where they work at some point in their lives. Varun worked in the Digital and Mobile department of Flipkart, Parminder Singh worked in the iOS team and Mudit was a developer of the Mobile team in the company.
Hansel was acquired by Netcore Cloud on November 24, 2020.
Founders: Anshu Gupta, Prashant Anand, Akash Chandra
Parrhai is an ed-tech startup founded by Anshu Gupta, Prashant Anand, Akash Chandra. Here, Anshu Gupta, one of the co-founders of the company, was an ex-employee of Flipkart, where he went on to work for 2 years 10 months and resigned as a Product Manager of the company.
Parrhai is an ed-tech company with a difference. Where most other similar companies focus on offering classroom-like sessions, which includes pre-recorded classes, live classes, and other course-related modules, Parrhai aims to demystify key concepts and change their lesson plan dynamically to ease the learning process. Therefore, the platform plays the role of a model teacher leveraging the power of AI to do it!
Founders: Vinay Indresh and Arnab Saharoy
Vinay Indresh and Arnab Saharoy were classmates at NIT Warangal and founded Homefuly in January 2016. Vinay was an ex-Flipkart employee whereas Arnab worked at Myntra from where they resigned and set up their own company. Homefuly was modelled on a marketplace model where the brand connects with the best vendors and the best designers to promise world-class outputs.
Now you might be thinking is that all?
The answer is no. There is over 200 startup business that is launched by the ex-employees of Flipkart, Flipkart mafia, and many more to come!
Here are some more companies by ex-Flipkart employees that are worth mentioning -
xto10x technologies: Yes, helping companies, basically startups, scale their operations from 1-10 is no simple business. Binny Bansal has co-founded this one knowing it fully well with personal experience
Playment: An AI startup for businesses to help machine learning engineers build datasets for training
Runnr: A B2B platform offering hyper-local logistics service, now acquired by Zomato.
GrabOnRent: Yeah! Just grab on rent any furniture, appliance etc. out of thousands to choose from in multiple categories. Currently operating in Mumbai, Gurgaon, Bangalore, and Hyderabad, you sure wish this company comes knocking on your door soon.
A story alone cannot make you think out of the box, but this article here, can make you dare to dream, it can further make you believe that the world does not come to an end if you start with serving in a particular company. Furthermore, it will also remove that little/large amount of doubts or the fears of failure that usually stop you from taking starting your own company.
Inspirations are always helpful, regardless of whether they come right at the beginning or in the midway of our journey, they always tend to gear us up making the outcome far more pleasing than if it was otherwise. When it comes to entrepreneurial ventures, motivations in the form of the stories of the ‘firsts’, who took the risky road and with their passion and dedication, made history out of it, are ever so rejuvenating.
The stories here, of the ‘Flipkart mafias’, who put to use their learning, management skills, and insights to start out with their unique ventures will certainly be added boost to the budding entrepreneurs and quite interesting a piece overall. Wish you all the best for your brainchild in its creation!
Was Flipkart inspired by Amazon?
Flipkart, the e-commerce giant of India is founded by two ex-Amazonians Sachin and Binny Bansal. Amazon was the inspiration behind the inception of Flipkart, which initially began as a bookstore.
How many startups are there in India currently?
India has around 50k startups going by the latest govt stats. Out of these, nearly 10% are tech-based startups making India the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world.
Why do most startups fail?
Approximately only 10% of startups succeed while 90% fail in general. Why do they fail is a matter of in-depth research. Few arresting reasons would be fund crunch, lack of product/market research and an unviable business model.
Why was Flipkart sold?
Apart from Walmart’s $16B lucrative deal which they couldn’t turn down, why did the founders decide to sell it, is open to assumptions and theories?
How soon can a company reach unicorn status?
There’s no absolute number but on average Indian companies/startups are reaching this status much sooner than a decade or two earlier.