Flipkart mafia gave us not just Udaan and Curefit, but successfully bootstrapped startups too
Flipkart is known for its entrepreneurial culture since its inception. Like the way Ebay and Amazon sprouted amazing talent, who went on to build great enterprises, Flipkart, India’s most-celebrated startup, has also grown quite a few employees into successful entrepreneurs.
For instance, B2B ecommerce platform Udaan was founded by three ex-Flipsters (as Flipkart employees call themselves) Sujeet Kumar, former President of Operations; Amod Malviya, former CTO, and Vaibhav Gupta, former Senior VP at Flipkart, in 2016. Backed by Lightspeed venture and YuriMilner among others, Udaan has raised $60 million so far.
Flipkart’s Chief People Officer Mekin Maheshwari left the company in 2016 – a year when Flipkart saw a mass exodus of its senior employees. An active angel investor, Mekin went on to launch Udhyam Learning Foundation in 2017, to encourage self-employment and grassroots entrepreneurship.
Ankit Nagori and Mukesh Bansal were Chief Business Officer and Head of commerce respectively at Flipkart before they launched health and fitness startup Curefit in 2016. They have raised about $60 million from investors including Flipkart co-founder and Group CEO Binny Bansal, as well as current Myntra-Jabong CEO Ananth Narayanan.
Besides strong business model and strategies, undeniably, these companies have also enjoyed the network and recognition that comes with the “ex-Flipkart tag.”
Among the success stories from ex-Flipsters’ startups are two such companies, which exited in a couple of years after inception. Omni-channel marketplace management product company Sellerworx, founded by Venkat Potluri and Ganesamurthi in 2014 (both directors at Flipkart), was acquired by Capillary Technologies in 2016.
Pianta, a mobile platform, which connects service providers with customers, was founded in 2015 by Nitin Agarwal, who was formerly a lead engineer at Flipkart and director of engineering at Ola, along with two senior professionals at Ola. The company was acquired by Indonesian logistics startup unicorn GO-Jek in 2016.
Of course, there were a few ex-flipsters who had to shut down their entrepreneurial ventures too. For instance, Xitij Kothi (former manager at Flipkart) launched Parcelled - an online courier booking platform in 2014. Although it raised $5 million, Parcelled shut down in 2016 due to poor margins and cash burn.
Another company was ITiffin, a food-tech startup, founded by nutritionist Ryan Fernando and former VP (Finance) at Flipkart, Tapan Kumar Das, in 2013. Despite raising $1 million in funding, the Robin Uthappa-backed startup shut down in 2016.
But then, there are a few who have stayed away from the big bucks, but managed to build sustainable businesses after their stint at Flipkart. Read more about five such Bengaluru-based startups.
Arzooo: Launched in 2016 by Khushnud Khan and Rishi Raj, Arzooo is a reverse-auction platform that sends demand from customers, who see online prices, to select top retailers. Retailers bid for this customer with their prices and beat prices on other online platforms. Khushnud was an Assistant Director at Flipkart, where he set up large appliances category as well as started Flipkart’s hyperlocal delivery segment for food and grocery deliveries. Rishi has worked with Flipkart as a product manager, leading hyperlocal grocery and logistics platforms on the product front.
Groww: Funded by Y Combinator, Groww offers paperless investing options by letting you buy and sell mutual funds online. Founders Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Neeraj Singh, and Ishan Bansal quit their jobs in 2016 to start up in the wealth management and investment space. Lalit and Harsh were Product Managers, Neeraj was a software development engineer, and Ishan was in corporate development at Flipkart. Groww had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Curefit founders Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori.
Hansel: Launched in 2016, this YourStory Tech30 startup solves a problem that every smartphone user has faced – the apps hang while browsing. The founders of this bootstrapped company are ex-Flipsters - Varun Ramamurthy worked in the product department, Parminder Singh was in the iOS team, and Mudit Mathur was a developer heading the core mobile team at Flipkart.
Homefuly: Currently bootstrapped and launched in 2016, this startup started as a pure marketplace model connecting vendors and designers to customers. Later, it evolved to give in-house end-to-end design solutions by providing furniture through trusted partners. The company was founded by Vinay Indresh, former business finance head at Flipkart, and Arnab Saharoy, digital marketing manager and social media marketing head at Flipkart-owned Myntra. (They knew each other from NIT Warangal where they had both studied.) Interior designer Madhu Sarangi is also a co-founder.
Parrhai: Launched in 2018, this bootstrapped edtech startup was founded by IIT-Kanpur graduates Anshu Gupta and Prashant Anand, who were product manager at Flipkart and software development engineer at Nobroker respectively. Their co-founder Akash Chandra is an IIT-Delhi graduate. Parrhai uses Artificial Intelligence to teach mathematics for middle-school students. The platform understands how good a student is with numbers, whether they make silly mistakes and evaluates the kind of mistakes, and how comfortable they are with previous chapters, etc., which helps plan lessons on a real-time basis.