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From a $5.9K Entry to a $16 Bn Exit: The Awe-Inspiring Journey of Flipkart

From a $5.9K Entry to a $16 Bn Exit: The Awe-Inspiring Journey of Flipkart

A Timeline to Take You Through The Trials and Tribulations, Smiles and Successes of India’s Ecommerce Beacon, Flipkart

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses” — Abraham Lincoln.

For now, the Indian ecommerce industry seems to be as divided on the impact of the Flipkart-Walmart deal as Lincoln’s quote above is on roses and thorns. However, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that the Flipkart exit, at $16 Bn valuation, is a moment of pride for the country’s entire startup ecosystem.

The fabled tale of two IIT graduates who left their jobs in Amazon to start an online bookstore with a capital of $5.9K (INR 4 Lakh) and turned it into a company with a valuation of more than $10 Bn in a span of 11 years has been told and retold numerous times. However, the Flipkart founders, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, and the ‘Flipkart Group’ have an identity greater than this.

It’s a company which made Indians trust online shopping.

A company which carved out a place in the hearts of Indians with its witty advertisements.

A company where the founder went from door to door as a “Wishmaster” to give customer Big Billion Day surprises.

A company in which the two founders created their own mafia of startup entrepreneurs, who lead their way to more than 250 startups in the country.

A company which planted its roots at 447-C, 12th Main, Koramangala in Bengaluru and branched out to 11 offices spread across Koramangala, ORR, and Hosur Road in the city before finally moving to one campus, spread across 8.3 Lakh Sq Ft in the Embassy Tech Village (ETV).

We at Inc42 felt it only befitting of the moment to take our readers through the 11-year journey of the poster boy of Indian ecommerce. But, before we dive into Flipkart’s exhaustive (and that’s an understatement) timeline for the period between September 2007 and May 2018, here’s a glimpse of the era in which Flipkart made its humble beginning — inspirational enough for any startup to think beyond and into the future.

2006: The Year Flipkart was Born

According to an IMRB report, till March 2006, there were only 21 Mn active Internet users (approx 2.4% of the population) in India, of which only 4% were using the net for ecommerce activities.

There were only 90 Mn mobile phone users (wherein smartphone user percentage can be assumed to be lesser than this number). Besides, online travel was the most-sought category rather than fashion or electronics like it is today.

These numbers went up significantly between 2007-2013. The number of Internet users reached over 15% of the total population, making India the third-largest smartphone user base with 117 Mn users in 2013 and further fuelling the growth of Internet companies and ecommerce in this period.

As analysts say, the latter companies were unable to crack the business model and ensure cash flows in their ventures. This further led to either shutdowns or consolidations. By October 2012, of the 193 ecommerce companies launched during that period, 87 were shut down.

However, the ones that survived came to understand the business metrics and played their game more carefully. Flipkart was one of the survivors.

While most people know how Bansal and Bansal started out small in September 2007 from a Bengaluru apartment, they might not know that the duo bootstrapped for two whole years. They even managed to open their first office within a year of the launch in Bengaluru PIN code 560034 with 24×7 customer service before raising their first round of external funding.

Check out the timeline below to delve into Flipkart’s interesting, colourful, and inspiring history, for some more interesting nuggets of information, and to learn about the ups and downs of the beacon of the Indian ecommerce ecosystem.