Just like the PayPal mafia transformed Silicon Valley after the dot-com bust of 2001, giving rise to some of America’s most innovative startups, the Flipkart Mafia, comprised of enterprising former Flipkart employees, has transformed India’s startup ecosystem - and full disclosure here, we did not come up with that term.
Just Google-Flipkart Mafia and you’ll see that people have been talking about this group for years. In fact, as of 2017, more than 200 companies have been created by Flipsters and that number is significantly higher at the time when we are writing this article in 2021. That is why we wanted to highlight some of the most noteworthy and successful startups that have been created by the Flipkart Mafia.
Starting things off at number 1, we have the only startup on this list that isn't Indian, although it was created by Indians in California - SUKI. Founded by former Flipkart Chief Product Officer Punit Soni along with Anshu Sharma and Karthik Rajan in 2017, Suki is an AI-powered, voice-enabled digital assistant that helps doctors to expedite the process of completing administrative tasks so that they have more time for their patients.
Doctors in the United States spend twice as much time filling out Electronic Health Records than they do with their patients, and so Suki’s primary goal is to change that. This digital assistant takes notes, fills out electronic health records, schedules appointments, retrieves patient medical history, and even recommends medicine dosages and refills.
The startup was featured in Fast Company’s list of the 10 most innovative health companies of 2020, and so far, they’ve raised 40 million dollars (₹298 crores) from their investors (Flare Capital Partners, First Round Capital, Venrock, and Breyer Capital) in order to continue making American healthcare more patient-oriented.
Next up at number 2, we have a Bengaluru-based bookkeeping app called OkCredit, which was founded by former Flipkart employees Gaurav Kumar and Harsh Pokharna, along with their college friends Aditya Prasad, and before founding the company, they were regularly buying groceries at their local Kirana shop on credit.
These accounts were recorded in a physical notebook, which they realized was a very popular and also very antiquated way of bookkeeping that was ripe for disruption. In 2016, they onboarded their local Kirana shopkeeper as their first customer, and their user base has been growing ever since.
OkCredit is now used by 23 million (2.3 crores) small and medium-sized businesses across India and has expanded its offerings to include a digital storefront builder, staff attendance, and salary tracker.
Moving on to number 3, now we have Bengaluru-based dockless scooter rental startup Vogo, which was founded by Flipster Anand Ayyadurai, along with Padmanabhan Balakrishnan and Sanchit Mittal in 2015, but Anand’s entrepreneurial journey actually began while he was working at Flipkart.
He was put in charge of launching televisions on the platform, despite the fact that he knew nothing about televisions, or e-commerce for that matter, by working hard and thinking outside of the box though, he was able to do it successfully, and this experience gave him the confidence to start Vogo with his co-founders in 2015, with the goal of providing Indians with affordable, accessible, and convenient self-transportation.
Today, Vogo scooters have completed 10 million (1 crore) rides, and the company is now working on electrifying its fleet with the help of its investors (Matrix Partners India, Stellaris Venture Partners, Kalaari Capital, and Light rock) who have pumped a $180 million (₹1,340 crores) into the startup so far.
Coming in at number 4, we again have Bengaluru-based fintech startup Slice, which was founded by former Flipkart employee Rajan Bajaj, along with Deepak Malhotra in 2016. See, in India, you usually need to be employed before the bank will trust you enough to give you a credit card, but the thing is, most people don’t know how to use a credit card.
The years which you should have spent learning the use a credit card, responsibly under the supervision of your parents have been wasted. That is why Slice launched a credit card for millennials in 2019 with no annual charges, no joining fees, and no hidden costs.
This has enabled them to onboard more than 350,000 (3.5 lakh) customers and they plan to increase that number to 1 million customers by the end of this financial year. To do this, they’ve embraced the support of investors (Blume Ventures, Das Capital, Simile Venture Partners, and Gunosy Capital) who have pumped $73.7 million (₹549 crores) into Slice so far.
Up at number 5, we have a Gurugram-based omnichannel used car retail platform Spinny, which was founded by Flipster Mohit Gupta along with Niraj Singh and Ramanshu Mahaur in 2015. One way in which Spinny stands out is their next-day shipping, which isn’t a big deal for small items like electronics or clothing but we’re talking about cars here.
Many used car marketplaces deemed this kind of delivery speed impossible before Spinny showed up. But because Mohit Gupta was the Associate Director of Delivery Operations at Flipkart, where he handled the “same day” and ”next day” shipping, Spinny is able to do this flawlessly.
Spinny is currently operating across eight Indian cities and they plan to expand to seven more in the next couple of months using the funds that they’ve raised from their investors (Tiger Global, General Catalyst, and Fundamentum), who so far, have pumped $230.5 million (₹1,717 crores) into the startup.
Moving on to number 6, now we have Bengaluru-based fintech startup Navi Technologies. After selling a 5.5% stake in Flipkart for a billion dollars, Sachin Bansal, one of the company’s founders, decided to start something new with former Bank of America director Ankit Agarwal in 2018.
The goal of Navi Technologies is to revolutionize India’s banking, financial services, and insurance industry, and they’re doing this very quickly through an inorganic growth strategy that heavily relies on acquisitions. Since 2018, they’ve acquired four different companies:
- Chaitanya Rural Intermediation Development Services
- DHFL General Insurance
- Mavenhive Technologies
- Essel Mutual Fund.
These acquisitions have enabled them to rapidly launch lending and insurance products like Navi Finserv, Navi General Insurance, and Navi Mutual Fund. So far, Navi Technologies has raised $583 million (₹4,338 crores), some of which has come directly out of Sachin’s pocket, and some of which has been raised from external investors.
Coming at number 7, we now have Bengaluru-based online investment platform Groww. All of Groww’s founders are former Flipkart employees. There’s Harsh Jain, Ishan Bansal, Lalit Keshre, and Neeraj Singh. In 2016, they identified a massive opportunity in the fact that only about a tenth of the people in India who investable income was actually investing it.
To change that, they launched a mutual funds awareness campaign and embraced technology like UPI and eKYC to make investing easy and stress-free for their customers. And these innovations paid off - Groww now has 15 million customers and became a unicorn in 2021. They also recently bought 21-year-old financial services company Indiabulls, which is an acquisition they were able to afford; thanks to their investors, who so far have pumped $140 million into the startup.
Next up at number 8, we have Bengaluru-based health and fitness startup Cure.fit. Flipkart’s former Chief Business Officer Ankit Nagori started Cure.fit along with serial entrepreneur and former Flipkart Head of Commerce Mukesh Bansal. Ankit and Mukesh both share a passion for fitness, and they felt that in 2016, they could turn this passion into a brand.
They came up with the idea of selling the brand to Indians in the form of clean, professional, well-equipped fitness centers. Of course, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all of Cure.fit’s more than 130 centers were shut down, which resulted in the company adopting an omnichannel model where they offer personalized online fitness training.
As a loss-making company, the pandemic may have been the end of Cure.fit if it weren’t for their investors (Tata Digital, Temasek Holdings, and Epiq Capital) who so far have pumped $480 million (₹3,575 crores) into the startup.
Moving on to number 9, we have a Bengaluru-based digital payments platform PhonePe. Back in 2011, Flipkart acquired a startup that connected music publishers with music producers called Mime360 in an effort to build Flyte, Flipkart’s own music streaming service similar to iTunes.
Unfortunately, Flipkart shut Flyte down in 2015, prompting Mime360’s founders to start something new, PhonePe, a UPI-based payments platform that Flipkart actually acquired before it was even launched. See, Flipkart had also unsuccessfully tried to launch a payment gateway called PayZippy, and they felt that PhonePe succeeded where PayZippy had failed. Since its launch in 2016, PhonePe has become India’s market leader in UPI transactions, and as a separate entity from Flipkart, it's currently valued at $5.5 billion dollars (₹40,960 crores).
And finally coming in at number 10, we have Bengaluru-based B2B e-commerce unicorn Udaan, which is another one of those startups where all of the founders are ex-Flipsters. There’s Amod Malviya, Flipkart’s former CTO, Sujeet Kumar who handled operations, and Vaibhav Gupta who was in charge of products, business finance, and analytics.
Together, they decided to do in the B2B space what Flipkart had done in the B2C space by launching an e-commerce platform for traders, wholesalers, and retailers in 2017. Just one year later, Udaan had achieved unicorn status, and today, Udaan offers a catalog of 5 lakh products, and they facilitate more than 4.5 million transactions every month.
Of course, one of the reasons why they’ve been able to build such an extensive network in such a short span of time is because of their investors who so far have pumped $1.2 billion (₹8,942 crores) into Udaan so far.
All right, those were our picks for the top 10 startups that were created by the Flipkart Mafia. Hope you enjoyed the article.