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slice CEO Rajan Bajaj received just Rs 12 in salary as losses grew nearly 60% in FY23: Report

ISN Team
New Update
slice CEO Rajan Bajaj salary

In a striking contrast to the hefty pay packages of other unicorn founders, Rajan Bajaj, the founder and CEO of fintech unicorn Slice, took home an annual salary of just Rs 12 in FY23.

This is in stark contrast to FirstCry CEO Supam Maheshwari, who received a staggering Rs 200.7 crore remuneration in the same period, as revealed by a recent report.

Rajan Bajaj's minimal salary vs. Supam Maheshwari's high remuneration

The report, released by PrivateCircle Research, a private market intelligence platform, highlights the significant median and average salary gaps among unicorn founders, with Maheshwari and Bajaj being notable outliers.


Interestingly, as per the company's revised draft red herring prospectus, Maheshwari's monthly salary dropped by 49% in the first three-quarters of FY24, reducing his total remuneration to Rs 77.5 crore. 

Additionally, Moneycontrol reported that Maheshwari offloaded 6.2 million shares in the company 10 days prior to filing for an initial public offering in December.

Slice financial performance

Despite Bajaj's minimal salary, Slice reported an impressive Rs 847-crore revenue from its operations in the payments and lending business during FY23, marking a three-fold increase over the previous fiscal year.

The fintech unicorn's revenue growth came despite regulatory challenges, including the scrapping of its flagship product, a revolving credit line on prepaid cards, in the first quarter of FY23.

However, the startup's losses also saw a significant rise, growing nearly four times during the same period.

Employee benefits and non-performing assets (NPAs) spiked, leading to a 59.8% increase in losses, which amounted to Rs 406 crore in FY23 compared to Rs 254 crore in FY22.

Gender disparities in unicorn founder salaries

The report also sheds light on gender disparities among unicorn founders. The median salary of female unicorn founders was almost 44% lower than their male counterparts, with women earning Rs 1 crore compared to Rs 1.8 crore for men in FY23.

On average, male founders earned eight times more than their female peers.

The gender disparity in the Indian startup ecosystem is further highlighted by the lack of women directors at unicorns. A March 2024 analysis by PrivateCircle found that 57 Indian unicorns have zero women on their boards.

Sector and location-based salary variations

Among the 114 unicorns analyzed, media and entertainment sector unicorns had the highest median founder salary, Rs 3.5 crore, in FY23, followed by logistics unicorns, Rs 1.9 crore, and edtech firms, Rs 1.6 crore.

The analysis also found that logistics unicorns topped with an average salary of Rs 12.4 crore, likely influenced by outliers given the much lower median salary in the sector. The median salary of a unicorn founder in FY22 was Rs 1.2 crore, and around Rs 90 lakh in FY20 and FY21.

Salaries also differed in terms of location, with unicorn founders in Pune having the highest average and median salary of Rs 20 crore and Rs 3.7 crore among the top six cities, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

Pune's average is notably higher due to Maheshwari's remuneration. The analysis is based on managerial remunerations disclosed in the companies' MCA filings. PrivateCircle Research noted that it could not access the founder salaries of foreign-registered companies, which was the case for many SaaS companies.