The median founder salary for media & entertainment sector unicorns was as high as ₹3.5 crore in FY23, followed by ₹1.9 crore for logistics unicorns and ₹1.6 crore in Edtech, according to an analysis by PrivateCircle Research, a private market intelligence platform.

The analysis found logistics unicorns at the top with ₹12.4 crore average salary, which could be because of some outliers as the median is much lower for the sector. The top 7 sectors (by count of unicorns) were picked from the list of 114 unicorns.

Overall, the median salary of a unicorn founder in FY23 was ₹1.5 crore. The median salary of a unicorn founder in FY22 was ₹1.2 crore and around ₹90 lakh in FY20 and FY21.

There were some outliers, like FirstCry’s Supam Maheshwari, who took home ₹200.7 crore in FY23, and Slice’s Rajan Bajaj, whose annual salary was only ₹12 crore in the same financial year.

It should be noted that Supam Maheshwari’s monthly salary dropped by 49 per cent in the first three quarters of FY24, as per the company’s revised draft red herring prospectus. His total remuneration was ₹77.5 crore in the first three quarters of FY24.

Gender disparity

Further, there was a vast gap between the median salary of male and female unicorn founders. On average, male founders earned 8x more than female founders. The median annual salary of a female founder was ₹1 crore in FY23, compared with ₹8.5 cr for a male founder.

The gender disparity in the Indian start-up ecosystem can also be estimated by the lack of female directors at unicorn companies. In a March 2024 analysis, PrivateCircle found that 57 Indian unicorns have zero women on their board.

The report noted that founder salaries vary by location. Pune unicorn founders have the highest average and median salaries of ₹20 crores and ₹3 crore respectively. The city’s average has shot up because of FirstCry’s Supam Maheshwari remuneration.