MEN WHO MATTER: The flip side of the Flipkart man – Binny Bansal

They’re ambitious, diligent, driven and have found the key to unlock innovation. RITZ Magazine meets these promising men of substance from Karnataka who have made a mark in their respective fields and are making waves not just nationally but also across the globe. They reveal what kept them going and how they carved out a niche for themselves…

BY NAMITA GUPTA

From a small online bookstore, IIT graduate Binny Bansal has come a long way in just over a decade with Flipkart, one of India’s largest online retail portals and the most valuable startup. With many ups and downs, lows and highs, his journey from working out of a tiny flat in Koramangala in Bengaluru to building an estimated 20 billion dollar company, made the world’s largest retailer Walmart to sit up, take notice and purchase a majority stake (77%) in Flipkart. Binny shares his entrepreneurial story.

TURNING POINT: It wasn’t a Eureka moment, but something that was at the back of my mind since my college days. For a middle class kid fresh out of college, getting into a decent job is probably the logical thing to do, and I did it as well. But I wanted my work to matter, and when I didn’t see that happening, I decided to shift track.

PURE PASSION: I wish I could say I had it all planned out! But, I didn’t. We weren’t even starting out in e-commerce initially. And even after Flipkart launched, there were problems we hadn’t fathomed. How to build trust? How to accept cash payments? Solving these India-specific problems have been the clear highlights of my journey.

CROSSING HURDLES: When Flipkart launched, e-commerce was virtually non-existent in India. So, to build customer trust and ensure a delightful experience, we had to create the entire value chain. We set up from scratch a supply chain and logistics unit, eKart, and introduced Cash On Delivery and easy returns — innovations which catalysed the adoption of e-commerce. None of that would’ve been possible without a team of disruptors at Flipkart, people who think outside the box, and who continue to innovate relentlessly for India.

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY: There’s no doubt I work really hard, but my work title can sometimes betray the fact that I have my fair share of fun too. Just that my idea of it may be a little different. I love sports, for example, and for several of Flipkart’s initial years, we regularly played football after office. My co-players may dispute it now, but I think my team rarely lost a game.

BENGALURU, A STARTUP CITY: Bengaluru epitomises the youthful India, one that is welcoming, inclusive, digitally savvy and enterprising. The city’s tech and business ecosystems are unparalleled. I can’t say with certainty that we could have started Flipkart anyplace else and been just as successful. Bengaluru is Flipkart’s home and mine too.