In the wee years of the millennium, two young former Amazon employees, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, quit their jobs and founded their own e-commerce company Flipkart. The company grew by leaps and bounds and almost two decades later, a good number of Bansals’ former employees followed their paths, to start their ventures. 

Popularly referred to as ‘Flipkart Mafia’, Flipsters (former Flipkart employees) now own 44 start-ups, based on the data by PrivateCircle Research. However, these are only the companies about which information is available publicly and the real number could be higher. Data from the analytics platform YNOS venture engine, on the other hand, shows that of these 44 companies, eight are backed by Binny.

These companies cumulatively have a valuation of $25 billion. Six of them are unicorns, with PhonePe being the company with the highest valuation - $12 billion. The other unicorns are Groww ($3 billion), Udaan ($1.75 billion), Spinny ($1.55 billion), ($1.3 billion) and Slice ($1.3 billion), in that order.

Solid backing

Data from YNOS shows that Binny Bansal has invested in a lot of these start-ups. His earliest investment was in 2018, when he invested ₹41.8 million in the health and fitness platform, founded by former Flipkart employee Mukesh Bansal. Later, he went on to invest in seven other companies including Slice, and Exotel, the oldest start-up founded by a former Flipkart employee. He invested thrice in Curefoods, twice in 2021 and once in 2022.

The ESOP factor

PrivateCircle’s data shows that the formation of new start-ups by Flipsters has a co-relation with the company’s ESOP buybacks. In December 2017, Flipkart bought back ESOPs worth over $100 million from over 3,000 current and former employees. In May 2018, American multinational Walmart acquired a majority stake in Flipkart. That year, the company exercised another ESOP buyback worth $500 million. The year 2018 also marked the creation of six start-ups by former Flipkart employees, the highest until then.

In 2019, the company, yet again, exercised an ESOP buyback worth $100 million. In that year, eight start-ups were created by former Flipkart employees, the highest to date. Amid the pandemic, seven flipster-backed start-ups were incorporated in 2020. Four start-ups each were created in 2021 and 2022. In 2021, too, the company exercised an ESOP buyback.

Familiar road

More than a third of these start-ups (15 in total) are e-commerce platforms. The list includes Udaan, Spinny and RentoMojo. Then, there are eight fintech companies. A few prominent names here, apart from the unicorns, are Navi, Credgenics and OkCredit.

The youngest among these 44 start-ups are Virgio, Volt, Varaha and Onwo, all of which were incorporated in 2022.