Slice Founder Rajan Bajaj Earned Only Rs 12,000 in FY23: Private Circle Research

May 24, 2024: In a shocking disclosure, Rajan Bajaj, the founder of fintech unicorn Slice, earned only Rs 12000 per year in fiscal year 2022–23 (FY23). This substantial disparity in pay was revealed in research produced by PrivateCircle Research, which shed light on the income disparities among unicorn founders in India.

In comparison, FirstCry CEO Supam Maheshwari earned a stunning Rs 200.7 crore during the same period, highlighting the enormous discrepancies within the startup industry.

Despite its founder’s modest income, Slice generated an impressive Rs 847 crore in revenue from its payments and loan operations in FY23. This tremendous rise, a threefold increase over the previous fiscal year, demonstrated the company’s tenacity in the face of regulatory hurdles, including the discontinuance of its flagship product, a revolving credit line for prepaid cards, in the first quarter of FY23.

The survey also highlighted the gender pay disparity among unicorn founders, finding that female founders’ median salaries were roughly 44% lower than their male counterparts, equivalent to Rs 1 crore vs. Rs 1.8 crore in FY23. 

PrivateCircle’s survey of 114 unicorns revealed diverse wage trends across sectors. Media and entertainment unicorns had the highest median founder pay of Rs 3.5 crore, followed by logistics unicorns at Rs 1.9 crore and edtech enterprises at Rs 1.6 crore.

Furthermore, the survey investigated geographical variations in founder pay, revealing that Pune had the highest average and median wage among the top six startup hubs, which included Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. Maheshwari’s high salary has a significant impact on Pune’s overall average.

However, the gender imbalance goes beyond compensation, with a worrying paucity of female directors at Indian unicorns. According to PrivateCircle’s March 2024 report, 57 Indian unicorns had no female representation on company boards, revealing deeper structural concerns.

The investigation, which was based on managerial salaries given in firms’ MCA filings, acknowledged constraints in obtaining founder wages from foreign-registered companies, notably in the SaaS sector.

As the Indian startup ecosystem evolves, addressing these gaps will be critical to creating a more inclusive and fair environment for both founders and employees.

In FY23, Rajan Bajaj received Rs 12000 while Supam Maheshwari received Rs 200.7 crore, indicating a founder salary disparity.

Revenue Growth: Despite regulatory obstacles, Slice recorded revenues of Rs 847 crore.

Gender Pay Gap: Female founders’ median salaries are roughly 44% lower than their male colleagues.

Sector-wise Trends: The media and entertainment industry had the highest median founder income, followed by logistics and edtech.

Geographical Disparities: Pune emerged as the city with the highest founding salary.

Gender Representation: The lack of female directors at unicorns remains a worry.

The research emphasizes the need for coordinated efforts to overcome these disparities and create a more inclusive startup ecosystem in India.

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