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Armed & Ingenious, This Mafia Has the Smarts for Starts

Hundreds of former employees from some of India’s biggest unicorns who have left to start up on their own are creating a ripple wave of internet enterprise in what is now the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem.

Drawing on a record inflow of venture capital in the past decade, 297 founders have set up some 253 startups, igniting talk of a new-look “startup mafia,” as such cohorts of entrepreneurs are termed in industry parlance. These entrepreneurs, who have all raised venture funding, were earlier employed at companies such as Zomato, Zoho, Freshworks, Paytm, Citrus Pay, Snapdeal, Swiggy, Udaan, Oyo and Ola, according to data exclusively analysed by Longhouse Consulting for ET.

SoftBank-backed Oyo led the pack with 60 entrepreneurs, followed by ride-hailing platform Ola, with 51 such founders. They were followed by B2B ecommerce startup Udaan — the founders of which are former Flipkart executives — with 29 founders, and software-as-a-service startup Freshworks, with 28 founders.

For this study, the talent advisory firm considered executives who had spent two years at a startup and launched a new venture within two years of quitting that job.

Longhouse has only taken into account startups birthed out of the mentioned companies, and not the overall ecosystem. In addition, they had to have either raised over $1.5 million in funding, or have hired a team of over 25 people, to be considered for this list.

The data took into account startups formed till end of 2022. Longhouse did not include executives from India’s best known internet startup, Flipkart, which has its own long-established cohort. The list also excludes executives from other Walmart-owned companies, PhonePe and fashion portal Myntra.“For any business, you need deep insights, and (startup) mafia come out of well-established businesses because not only do they get a vantage point on newer opportunities but also find colleagues with whom they can partner to pursue these new opportunities,” said Nitin Gupta, founder and chief executive of fintech platform Uni.

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