Mohit Bedi was a successful banker with a major private sector bank, but the fast-paced activity in the startup sector was a siren song for him. He quit his cosy banker’s job to join a startup as a senior executive and, within nine months, decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge.

“Having worked so closely in the payment sector, I wanted to create something that would leave a legacy behind,” says Bedi. Thus was born credit on UPI (unified payments interface) startup, Kiwi, which was co-founded by Mohit Bedi, who quit his post as senior vice president at PayU and Siddharth Mehta, who quit his post as managing director of the lender’s Freecharge payments platform. Kiwi has raised almost $19 million in funding this year and opened its product to consumers in June.

Bedi is not alone. Similarly Dale Vaz also quit as the chief technology officer at Swiggy and launched his own fintech company, Aaritya Technologies. Vaz’s new venture is likely to be a personalised trading platform, and has already raised seed capital from Elevation Capital and Accel.

Like Bedi and Vaz, increasingly, there are many senior executives in the startup ecosystem who have left their well-paying jobs and started new ventures. In the past, too executives have left to launch their ventures, but this trend which seems to have gained momentum in the recent past.

Corporate-to-startup transition

The Indian startup ecosystem saw a worsening of the investment drought in 2023, with it falling by 73 per cent to 7 billion dollars in 2023 from $25 billion in 2022, according to data intelligence platform Tracxn. However, this hasn’t discouraged several senior executives from leaving their well-paying jobs and starting their ventures. Senior executives across functions of technology, engineering and product have taken the plunge into entrepreneurship in domains such as fintech, healthcare, artificial intelligence and others. What explains this accelerated trend of senior executives quitting their jobs to turn entrepreneurs?

“It is driven by a range of motivations. This trend is often fueled by a desire for greater autonomy, innovation, and the pursuit of new challenges outside the traditional landscape. Additionally, the changing industry dynamics, including the rise of fintech and evolving customer expectations, has provided opportunities for leveraging their own expertise in innovative ways,” says Bedi.

Anirudh A Damani, Managing Partner – Artha Venture Fund, says the experience that the senior executives would have accumulated equips them with patience, innovation, and a unique ability to adapt, distinguishing them from those with more traditional corporate backgrounds.

“Having navigated the challenging and unstructured growth phases of startups, these individuals are adept at handling the chaos and pace inherent in these environments. This phenomenon is underscored by the emergence of ‘founder mafias’ from established startups like Flipkart, PayPal, and Paytm. These groups, comprising former early-stage executives, have successfully ventured into founding innovative startups,” says Damani.

C-suite executives entrepreneurship

C-suite executives, leveraging their extensive experience, are increasingly embracing entrepreneurship for several key reasons ranging from overcoming career stagnation, and the potential for disproportionate financial gains, notes Kartik Narayan, CEO – Staffing, TeamLease Services.

“These seasoned professionals recognize that ascending to the pinnacle of corporate leadership often involves risks comparable to those faced when venturing into entrepreneurial roles. Motivated by a desire to maximize their impact and achievements, they’re taking bold leaps into new ventures,” Narayan said.

Many more executives have been quietly building their new ventures in stealth and are yet to fully announce them, like-- former Flipkart director of product management Amit Velingkar, ex-director of engineering at Razorpay’s Vinay Shivappa and Sanjay Suri, a former CTO and CPO at Nykaa.