Inside the Flipkart Mafia - Five Companies Founded by Former Employees of India's Biggest Tech Startup

Samridhi SinghTop Lists
Flipkart

Editorial credit: Burdun Iliya / Shutterstock.com

Founded by college buddies Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal in 2007, Flipkart is India’s largest homegrown e-commerce platform. Akin to Amazon, it is undoubtedly the country’s biggest success story in tech. Started as a bookseller, Flipkart quickly grew to 200,000 users and 450,000 sellers in a decade. In 2018, Walmart acquired an 81% controlling stake in the company for $16 billion (with a valuation of $20 billion) - India’s largest VC-backed tech exit to date. Following the exit, Sachin founded Navi Technologies, a digital lending app, and Binny is an active investor who helps tech startups scale through his organization, xto10x.

Flipkart’s legacy can be compared to the famous PayPal Mafia - a group of former PayPal employees in the early 2000s who later launched technology companies such as Tesla (Elon Musk), LinkedIn (Reid Hoffman), Palantir Technologies (Joe Lonsdale), YouTube (Steve Chen), Yelp (Russel Simmons, Jeremy Stoppelman), and many others.

Sachin and Binny are both former Amazon employees, and in starting Flipkart, they also similarly nurtured incredible talent that went on to become successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Today, there are 156 companies founded by former Flipkart employees that have collectively raised $10.27 billion in venture funding. Plus, there are 49 additional Indian startups that have been backed by Flipkart, Flipkart Founders, and former and current employees.

This entrepreneurial tendency of Flipkart employees, or “Flipsters,” has a lot to do with the company culture, regarded as highly-collaborative with an emphasis on bringing and executing individual ideas. In fact, this entrepreneurial drive is a key characteristic that the company looks for while hiring. In an interview with The Representative, Nithin Seth, former COO of Flipkart, shared, “When we look into the profile of a candidate - we look for people who have a very high drive for action, execution, and high customer orientation. We look for a thing that we can call ‘audacity’ - they think they are entrepreneurial and they are very good problem solvers.”

From fintech to fitness, here are the five companies founded by Flipsters with the highest valuations.

PhonePe

Founders: Sameer Nigan (Former SVP, Engineering at Flipkart), Rahul Chari (Former VP, Engineering), and Burzin Engineer (Former Director, Engineering)

PhonePe, which means “on the phone” in Hindi, is a card-linked, digital wallet app for consumers that offers solutions for money transfer, online payments, mobile recharging, bill payment, travel booking, and online shopping. With 925 million monthly transactions and over 100 million monthly users, the company is leading the mobile payments market in India.

PhonePe

Started by two former Flipkart employees, PhonePe is the leading mobile payments market in India. Courtesy of PhonePe.

PhonePe’s overarching goal is to digitize businesses across the country and it seems to be well under way. Today, 70% of the company’s transactions come from small towns and villages with less access to technology and innovation. In an interview with News18, founder and CEO Sameer Nigam shared: “We are on a mission to make digital payments a way of life for every Indian citizen, and our next target is to cross 500 million registered users by Dec 2022. In line with our brand ethos, we continue to launch new and innovative products for every strata of Indian society, as well as enable digital payment acceptance across every merchant.”

The company has raised $1.4 billion, primarily from Walmart and Flipkart, and is currently valued at $7 billion.

Udaan

Founders: Amod Malviya (Former CTO), Vaibhav Gupta (Former SVP Business Finance and Analytics), and Sujeet Kumar

Founded in 2016, Udaan is a network-centric B2B trade platform designed specifically for small and medium businesses in India. It is the largest distribution platform of its kind that enables retailers and businesses to source merchandise from manufacturers, brands, white labels, and importers on a single platform. Udaan allows small businesses in underserved regions of India to manage and grow their business and now has over 1 million retailers and 20,000 sellers across 900 cities in the country.

Udaan

Former Flipkart employees Amod Malviya and Vaibhav Gupta started B2B trade platform Udaan in 2016. Editorial credit: sdx15 / Shutterstock.com

Having raised $1.2 billion from investors including Lightspeed India Partners, DST Global, Tencent, Tiger Global and Sequoia, Udaan is currently valued at over $3 billion. The company was also the fastest-ever Indian unicorn, taking just three years to hit that valuation.

Cure.Fit

Founders: Mukhesh Bansal (Former Head of Commerce) and Ankit Nagori (Former Chief Business Officer)

Founded in 2016, Cure.fit, is building the world’s first integrated health platform that brings together all aspects of healthy lifestyle on one app. Under its umbrella, Cure.Fit has eat.fit, cult.fit, mind.fit, and care.fit, apps that offer digital and offline experiences in fitness, nutrition, and mental and physical health.

Cure.fit

Cure.fit has four different fitness and lifestyle apps under its main platform. Courtesy of Cure.fit

In 2020, driven by the pandemic, the company saw over 1.5 million new users adding to its existing 500,000. Cure.fit has plans to reach 100 million in ten years through strong cross usage between services. It also has over 75 Cult and Mind centres and aims to grow this to over 500 centres in three years, while Eat.fit is servicing over 10,000 meals/day and is doubling every three months.

Cure.Fit has raised over $400 million from investors including Unilever, IDG Capital, Accel, and others and is valued at $730 million.

Vogo

Founders: Anand Ayyadurai (Former Associate Director), Padmanabhan Balakrishnan(Former Senior Manager, Business Development), and Sanchit Mittal

Founded in 2016, Vogo offers bike rentals and scooter rentals to address high fuel prices, growing congestion and last mile mobility in urban India. Its IoT-enabled operations offer key-less exchange of vehicles with negligible human intervention and its app enables users to search, discover, lock/unlock, and book on-demand rentals. Vogo currently has 100,000 vehicles across 5 cities in India, 500 scooter stations, and has completed over 3 million trips. On February 18, Vogo raised $11.5 million as part of its Series C to expand its fleet of electric bikes, currently a small portion of the total fleet.

Vogo Scooter

Two of Vogo's three co-founders used to work at Flipkart. Courtesy of Vogo.

The company has raised $180 million in total from investors like Matrix Partners, Lightrock, and Ola Cabs — India’s largest ride hailing company.

Groww

Founders: Lalit Keshre (Former Product Manager), Harsh Jain (Former Product Manager) (Former Software Development Engineer), Neeraj Singh, and Ishan Bansal (Former Corporate Development Engineer)

Founded in 2016, this Y Combinator-backed company hopes to build India’s largest retail brokerage platform. Groww offers an investment platform that provides insights about mutual funds, systematic investment planning, equity-linked savings, and everything else in the world of personal finance. By making investing easy, accessible, transparent and paperless, Groww has been able to scale its customer base to 10 million users, mostly millennials. Groww is a particularly interesting business in the context of India because few individuals invest — of 1.3 billion people, about 18 million (less than 1.5% of the total population) invests in the stock market. In addition to its platform, Groww also runs a countrywide financial education initiative called Ab India Karega Invest, or “Now India Will Invest.”

Groww has raised $59 million from both local and international investors including Ribbit Capital, Sequoia, and Propel Venture Partners.

Groww 16:9

Groww hopes to build India's largest retail brokerage platform. Courtesy of Groww.

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