It is no secret that the era that we live in is the age of the startup boom in India. If you are a graduate student or a working professional, you will continuously feel the startup buzz around. Isn’t it inspiring to see so many professionals trying to start something on their own? After all, it takes confidence, faith, and a good business sense to begin one.

Now the question arises – How did this start? Who initiated this butterfly effect that is presently driving the Indian economy? Quick hint – The answer is none other than the startup that participated in the biggest e-commerce deal in the world. Should we not understand first what a butterfly effect is?

Flipkart– The Beginning

The story started when two engineers from IIT Delhi working with Amazon decided to quit their jobs in October 2007 to start an internet business that sold books. This was a time when people were skeptical about online businesses.

Despite the resistance- with great service, reasonable pricing, and customer-friendly policies they overcame the stigma of unreliability that was associated with E-commerce. They changed the way Indian e-commerce worked and the rest is history.

They faced several hurdles, overcame them, acquired companies to expand their functions and product portfolio. Almost two years back, they were acquired by Walmart for $16Bn which was the biggest deal in the E-commerce industry. They continue to grow- in the recent festive sale- Flipkart tops the chart with 68% GMV share.

Flipkart had its share of trouble and mistakes, but it set the ball rolling. I won’t take you too much into Flipkart’s history as there are many sources you can refer to. There is a book also you can read Big Billion Startup: The Untold Flipkart Story.

But what I am going to tell you is how many ex-Flipkart employees (or Flipsters, as they call themselves) ventured out to open their startups, some even became investors and funded other startups. 

Let us have a look at the scale of impact Flipkart had on the Indian Startup Ecosystem. According to the data by Nucleus42 in 2017, 233 Flipsters turned into Entrepreneurs, 207 startups were founded by Flipsters, and 48 startups were funded by Flipsters.

Let us delve deeper and look at the startups and companies founded/funded by ex-Flipsters.

PhonePe

It is a fintech startup, that provides digital wallets and online payment services. PhonePe is founded by Sameer Nigam (Former SVP Engineering and VP Marketing at Flipkart), Rahul Chari (VP Engineering at Flipkart) and Burzin Engineer. Moreover, Binny Bansal (Cofounder at Flipkart) will be joining the board of directors at PhonePe.

They recently raised around $700M and is primarily funded by Walmart and Flipkart. It is currently valued at $5.5B, and recently launched Insurance and curated MF category products. Currently, it has 40% market share in UPI transactions. PhonePe becomes most downloaded fintech app in India in Nov’2020.

Read: How PhonePe has become India’s leading digital payments platform?

Source: PhonePe

Cure.fit

It is a fitness and wellness startup, founded by Ankit Nagori, Former Chief Business Officer at Flipkart, and Mukesh Bansal co-founder of Myntra (acquired by Flipkart) in 2016.

As per TechCrunch, Cure.fit has raised more than $400 Million of capital and is funded by Chiratae Ventures, Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, and Oaktree Capital.

Covid 19 had a severe impact on the startup, most of their gyms and fitness centers were closed, but it pivoted and started conducting online classes that can be attended at the comfort of one’s home. Moreover, business verticals such as Mind.fit through which it offers therapy, medication, and yoga sessions experienced a surge in demand due to the pandemic. It has even expanded globally to US markets.

Source: CureFit

Udaan

It is a B2B Ecommerce platform that brings together manufacturers, traders, retailers, and wholesalers. The startup is founded by Amod Malviya (former CTO at Flipkart), Vaibhav Gupta (Former VP at Flipkart), and Sujeet Kumar (former President of Operations at Flipkart).

In 2019 they raised around $585M in Series D funding round from Footpath Ventures, Tencent, Hillhouse, GGV Capital, Citi Ventures, DST Global, and Altimeter. The startup reached unicorn status in a short time and is valued at around $2.8B.

Source: Udaan

Navi Technologies

It is a credit finance company, co-founded by Sachin Bansal (Co-founder at Flipkart) and Ankit Agarwal. It raised around $582M from Gaja Capital, Sachin Bansal, Ankit Agarwal, and other investors. Aspiring to make it as leading fintech platforms- they launched the lending application in June 2020 amidst the pandemic. They intend to scale it up into a financial services platform, offering insurance, mutual funds, and loans. Sachin also invested in Ather Energy, Ola, Vogo, and Bounce.

Groww

It is an investment platform, which allows users to buy and sell Mutual funds and stocks. The startup is founded by Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Neeraj Singh, and Ishan Bansal. All of them were employees at Flipkart and resigned in 2016. It is one of the best free investment platforms in India, suitable and intuitive for millennials and people who are new to investing. It raised around $30M from Y combinator in September 2020.

We just touched the tip of the iceberg. The list of startups founded by Flipsters is endless- Rapido, Playment, Homefuly, Pianta, Arzooo, Parrhai, and many more.

Source: Groww Mutual fund

What’s the reason behind the entrepreneurial success of so many Flipsters? What inspired them to leave the organization and start their businesses?

Company culture sets a tone for the work ethics of its employees in every organization. Flipkart has a very open culture, where each individual takes ownership with a collective goal- to do the right thing for the company. Another reason could be their selective hiring process since most of their employees are from premier colleges and are individuals with great drive.

Moreover, working for Flipkart- the pioneer of the startup ecosystem in India is bound to be inspiring. To add to the entrepreneurial spirit, the company recently launched its startup accelerator program called Flipkart Leap.


Sachin and Binny Bansal started working together with an idea- selling books online. Never in their wildest dreams would they have imagined that their small venture would give rise to hundreds of startups and create a butterfly effect on the Indian Startup Ecosystem.

If you give creative freedom to people, this is bound to happen. You know, this just shows that people are backing each other up, they have worked together in that entrepreneurial culture. There are so many ideas to pursue and everyone is trying to do that and while some would fail, some succeed, and some would try again and this is exactly what was needed and this is Flipkart’s biggest contribution to the startup ecosystem – giving inspiration to hundreds and thousands of entrepreneurs.

Ankit Nagori, founder of Cure.fit

Flipkart is a lesson and an inspiration to all budding entrepreneurs. If two graduates can start a company in their 2BHK with Rs. 4 lakh and build a multibillion empire- so can you.


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Manasvi Govindayapalli
Author

Manasvi is an aspiring entrepreneur - always on hunt for problems she can solve. She’s an education, business and public policy enthusiast. She loves spending her weekends teaching underprivileged children or on her couch reading books.

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