Why Flipkart is the Startup Factory of India?

'Flipkart Mafia' - a term affectionately bestowed upon the cadre of former employees who are disrupting the startup space! But how and why? Check out in this TICE story.

Shreshtha Verma
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Flipkart The Startup Factor of India

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In the bustling landscape of Indian startups, one name resonates louder than most - Flipkart. What began as an audacious venture by Sachin and Binny Bansal has now morphed into a phenomenon, not just for its own success but for the fertile ground it has provided for a multitude of startups to flourish. With its acquisition by Walmart, Flipkart has evolved into the undisputed "Startup Factory of India," a title earned through its remarkable journey from a fledgling e-commerce platform in 2007 to the nurturing ground for nearly 44 startup founders today. Remarkably, 6 of these startups, including PhonePe and Groww, have achieved unicorn status.

At the heart of this phenomenon lies the illustrious 'Flipkart Mafia' - a term affectionately bestowed upon the cadre of former employees who have embarked on their entrepreneurial journeys. These individuals, once integral cogs in Flipkart's machinery, have now become torchbearers of innovation, each weaving their own narrative of success while carrying forward the indelible imprint of their alma mater.

What is Flipkart Mafia?

Flipkart Mafia is a saga of transformation and inspiration. It speaks to the ethos of empowerment and innovation ingrained within Flipkart's DNA. As employees, these individuals imbibed the values of ambition, resilience, and creative thinking fostered by the Bansal duo. Now, as founders of their own startups, they stand as living embodiments of Flipkart's enduring legacy.

This network of Flipkart alumni turned entrepreneurs spans across diverse sectors, from e-commerce titans like Udaan and Spinny to fintech disruptors like PhonePe. The sheer breadth and depth of their impact on India's startup landscape are staggering, with a cumulative valuation that speaks volumes about the transformative power of Flipkart's influence.

From Employees to Entrepreneurs: The Flipkart Alumni Network

The journey from Flipkart employee to startup founder has become a well-trodden path for many ambitious individuals. According to recent data, a staggering 44 startups have emerged from the minds and experiences of these Flipsters, boasting a collective valuation soaring over $25 billion. Among them, the diversity of ventures is striking, with e-commerce, fintech, health, and fitness sectors leading the charge.

Diving deeper, it's evident that the influence of Flipkart's co-founders extends far beyond their initial venture. Binny Bansal, in particular, has emerged as a prominent figure in the startup ecosystem, backing eight of these burgeoning companies. His strategic investments, notably in cult.fit and Slice, highlight not only his confidence in his former colleagues but also his commitment to nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Among the impressive array of startups launched by former Flipkart employees, the diversification is striking. Out of the 44 ventures, 15 have ventured into the realm of e-commerce, while 8 have delved into the complexities of fintech. Additionally, 2 startups have focused on revolutionizing health technology, while 3 are dedicated to innovations in HR tech. Not to be overlooked are the 4 startups in Media and Entertainment, alongside 3 in the realm of SaaS (Software as a Service). Beyond these categories, a further 9 startups have emerged, each carving out their own unique niche in the landscape of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Furthermore, 6 of the 44 startups have attained unicorn status, boasting valuations exceeding $1 billion. Among them are PhonePe ($12 billion valuation), Groww ($3 billion valuation), Udaan ($1.75 billion valuation), Spinny ($1.55 billion valuation),  cult.fit ($1.3 billion valuation) and Slice ($1.3 billion valuation).

What Made Flipkart A Startup Factory?

One cannot overlook the pivotal role played by Flipkart's Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) in fueling this entrepreneurial wave. With two significant buyback exercises in 2017 and 2018, Flipkart not only rewarded its employees but also injected fresh capital into the startup ecosystem. The correlation between these buybacks and the subsequent surge in startup formations is unmistakable, signaling a virtuous cycle of innovation and reinvestment.

From the earliest ventures in 2018 to the recent additions during the pandemic, each wave of ESOP buybacks seems to catalyze a new wave of entrepreneurial fervor. The timing is uncanny, almost as if the spirit of Flipkart's success continues to inspire and embolden its alumni to chart their own paths.

As we gaze upon the landscape of Indian startups, it's clear that Flipkart's influence extends far beyond its e-commerce dominance. It has become the quintessential startup factor, igniting the entrepreneurial spirit in countless individuals and laying the foundation for a thriving ecosystem. As new ventures emerge and flourish under the banner of the Flipkart Mafia, one thing remains certain - the legacy of India's e-commerce giant continues to shape the future of innovation in the country.

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