When the curtains lifted up for the much anticipated fireside chat between Sachin Bansal and Rahul Yadav at the IIT Bombay ESummit 2016, the crowd burst into cheers and applause for the two most talked-about boys of the Indian startup ecosystem. The duo reacted to the applause in their own different ways. Sachin, the seasoned entrepreneur, was a picture of repose, genuinely delighted by the enthusiasm. And Rahul Yadav, was his usual brash self, a picture of smugness. The contrast between the two – a seasoned player of the ecommerce space and the brash – was evident from that very moment.
So no wonder, when Bloomberg’s Abha Bakaya, started off the conversation with the firebrand duo, the difference in their responses and approaches became much more visible. While Sachin spoke out of a solid experience of seven years of Flipkart’s journey of becoming one of the top five ecommerce companies, Rahul spoke from the limited, but prized experience, that came from founding and then, rather unfortunately, exiting one of the most spoken about startup Housing.com last year. Nevertheless, it seemed that somewhere Sachin’s sobriety and belief in Rahul’s next venture Intelligent Interfaces, had rubbed off on the once overtly brash ex-CEO of Housing.
The IIT Magic
When asked about what it is in the IITs that give birth to so many entrepreneurial journeys, Sachin was all full of reverence for his alma mater. He said, “IITs is a place where you learn a lot of humility. You learn that the world is a much bigger place; that’s the first thing that hit me when I joined. People are always pushing boundaries here. Everyone who goes into IITs enters after a lot of hard work and that helps in startup companies as well.”
Rahul meanwhile joked that, for him, IITs mean the best minds put in one place with really bad infrastructure in hostels. For him, IITs were reminiscent of small rooms, free movies on the internet, sports, lots of activities minus academics.
Challenges In Starting Up – From Then To Now
Speaking about the challenges in starting up seven years back and the changing scenario now, Sachin pointed out that some challenges still continue, such as the fact that it still takes 45 days to incorporate a company. He added, “We launched Flipkart in 10 weeks after quitting our jobs. It was practically impossible but we worked around it as we had my father’s company. But apart from the starting up challenge, the other side of ecosystem has changed fast.”