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The bad boy of India’s startup ecosystem is back

By Manu Balachandran & Shelly Walia

A little over two months after Rahul Yadav—the 26-year-old co-founder and former CEO of Housing.com—was unceremoniously ousted from his job, the enfant terrible of India’s startup ecosystem is readying a new venture.

The IIT-Bombay dropout is setting up a data visualisation firm that will help companies predict consumer behaviour. Media reports previously suggested that Yadav was building a data analytics firm.

“It’s not a data analytics company. It’s a data viewing company that will visualise data in 3D and virtual reality formats,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of Paytm, India’s largest mobile payment company, told Quartz.

“I have officially not yet invested, because the company is still being formed,” Sharma added. “But yes, I will be an investor.” The investors in Yadav’s new venture could also include the founders of e-commerce company Flipkart and India’s homegrown phone maker Micromax, the Financial Express newspaper reported.

Yadav declined to comment. “I will make an announcement in the next ten days,” he told Quartz over phone.

First innings

On July 01, Yadav was ousted from Housing.com, the real-estate listings company he had founded along with 11 others in August 2012. Much of that had to do with Yadav’s multiple run-ins with the investors, and his frequent outbursts on social media.

Soon after his exit from Housing.com, Yadav wrote on his Facebook page:

I’ll be back…this time with 100x… [10x of last formula (10x)]… 30 days to go… Is the world ready?

Meanwhile, a number of senior officials from Housing.com have reportedly quit the firm to join Yadav on his new venture. Among others, the company’s chief of staff Azeem Zainulbhai, chief marketing officer Pratik Seal and chief design officer Suvonil Chatterjee have put in their papers.

However, in an emailed statement to Quartz, Housing.com said that its senior management team is “very much intact.”

Yadav also claimed to have met Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani—India’s richest man—though it’s not entirely clear what was on the agenda.

“The most exciting day of my life was IIT-JEE result. Getting similar and strong awesome feelings again for the upcoming meeting with Mukesh Ambani. Confession: he’s my hero!” Yadav wrote on his Facebook page on Sept. 07.

So why is Paytm’s Sharma investing? “He (Rahul) has a great sense of product,” Sharma told Quartz. “There’s a lot for him to learn in terms of how to deal with the stakeholders, but he is one of the top product builders right now.”

(Quartz has emailed Flipkart and Micromax for comment, and will update this post with any responses.)