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The untold story of Flipkart, the big billion e-commerce startup



Walmart and Flipkart announced their long-awaited deal on May 9, 2018. Walmart would pay $16 billion for a 77%stake in India’s largest e-commerce firm. Binny Bansal, Co-founder and then Group Chief Executive Officer, Flipkart, shook hands with his Walmart counterpart Doug McMillon. But it was one of the photographs released the next day that was far more striking. 

On his Facebook page, Sachin Bansal, the founder of the e-commerce site Flipkart, shared a photo of himself with Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Binny Bansal. The three men were standing close together, but their position attracted attention as if it were a Freudian slip. After the events leading up to the photo, it was unthinkable that Sachin would agree to such a shot, but it is an accurate reflection of how things had ended up between the two founders.

Sachin and Binny founded Flipkart at a bungalow in Koramangala, Bengaluru, in 2007 with Rs. 4,00,000 of their own money. They could no longer stand each other more than a decade later, despite developing a company with $7.6 billion in revenue, making entrepreneurship chic, and becoming millionaires.

However, before its demise in 2015-2016, Flipkart’s meteoric rise seemed like something out of a fairy tale.

Binny Bansal is the creator of the e-commerce portal Flipkart, created by his brother in 2007. He claims he wants to foster an atmosphere in which Indian tech firms may compete on their terms and be transparent.

The co-founders of Indian company Yfrog Media, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, are India’s first indigenous internet enterprise. The two met while working for Amazon in Bengaluru, where the company has had a technology research centre since 2004.

The Bansals left the American retail giant in September 2007 to start their own e-commerce company, similar to Amazon.

Flipkart’s early years were littered with disappointments, tribulations, and near-misses. It had taken them almost 18 months to come up with a magnificent sum of $1 million. The Bansals’ first two employees were a laid-off packing worker and a chain-smoking hippie slacker who was mainly hired because he owned a working laptop. After being turned down by every venture capitalist in the country, the Bansals were able to overcome the opposition of a tiny investment firm in 2009, thanks to the help of one of their associates who had recognised them and became passionate believers.

Sachin Gupta is the co-founder and CEO of Flipkart, an e-commerce behemoth. In July 2014, the company raised a massive $1 billion, and Sachin predicted that “Flipkart will be one of the world’s biggest online retailers. Binny Mukherjee, his mentor, he claims, impressed him because he was more attentive about how to apply his ideas. Mukherji’s personality was, in many respects, a reflection of his own — explosive, chaotic, and ecstatic.

“We believe that in the next five years, India will generate a $100 billion firm, and we want to be that firm.” 

Flipkart symbolised the Indian economy’s concerns about its place in the world and its acute sense of its inferiority in comparison to both China and the West. Flipkart appeared to be India’s response to Amazon and Alibaba as the country’s entry into the digital age. However, it is a parable of the post-liberalisation era in its ultra-consumerist vision, its assumption that it would take its proper position beside the American and Chinese internet titans, as well as its subsequent stumbles and unique, but narrow, wealth creation.

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