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Building India’s Amazon: Flipkart CEO Sachin Bansal (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Oct 4th 2010

[Also check out my Entrepreneur Journeys book, Seed India – How To Navigate The Seed Capital Gap in India]

I first learned about Flipkart when I discovered that Flipkart is the only e-commerce company in India that is selling my books online. Subsequently, they became the only company in India to sell all five of my books, since I have chosen not to sell the publishing rights to Vision India 2020, Entrepreneur Journeys Volume Three: How To Test, Validate and Bring Your Idea to Market, and Entrepreneur Journeys Volume Four: Innovation, Need Of The Hour to my original publisher, Hachette India, because they offered me horrible terms.

Today, it is my pleasure to bring you our next Entrepreneur Journeys story, a conversation with Sachin Bansal, one of the pioneers in e-commerce. Sachin and his partner Binny are working on building India’s Amazon.

Sramana: Sachin, let’s begin by exploring the genesis of your story. What is your background?

Sachin Bansal: I am originally from Chandigarh, which is the capital of Punjab. My business partner, Binny, is also from Chandigarh. We are not related in any way, it just happens to be a coincidence that we are now working on Flipkart together. We both grew up in Chandigarh and went to the same schools yet did not know each other well. I went to the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, where I studied computer science, and that is where I really got to know Binny because he was studying computer science as well.

We graduated from IIT in 2005, and we took different jobs in Bangalore. I joined a company called Techspan. Our paths converged again in 2006 when we both joined India. Amazon was building Amazon Web Services ,which is very big now. We built things like Amazon S3. Their services have powered more than half of the startups in the United States.

Sramana: When did you begin thinking about doing your own startup, and was your original concept Flipkart?

Sachin Bansal: We started thinking about that in the middle of 2007. That was driven by the fact that everybody we knew in Bangalore was working hard building great technologies, but they were building them for U.S. companies. We could not relate to that. Amazon is a great business, but as users we could not relate. Benny and I decided to start something on our own and see how it went.

Sramana: You wanted to build a company that catered to the Indian market?

Sachin Bansal: Yes. We wanted to have customers we could relate to. We thought about our parents, friends, and cousins. We wanted to build something that they could use.

Sramana: Once you had decided what type of company you wanted to build, what path did you take to build it?

Sachin Bansal: We both approached the problem from a typical software engineering mentality. We felt we could write some code and make a million dollars. We did not want to make something that requires a lot of running around. We wanted to write some code and make a successful company, and we felt we could do that with a comparative shopping engine.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Building India's Amazon: Flipkart CEO Sachin Bansal
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Where is part 2

Venkatesh Vedhakumar Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 11:35 PM PT

I recently used flipkart , their process from ordering of book to delivering at doorsteps was smooth.

Rajeev Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 11:39 PM PT

Probably a day will come when people will say Building China’s Flipkart or something like that. Flipkart is a brave venture considering consumption in India. It is no equivalent to Amazon. But it is very Indian. The largely suspecting Indians who wouldn’t pay on the Internet and would be the first ones to loudly protest shoddy service have been effectively addressed through Flipkart. I have ordered several books and got the deliveries instantly as promised. In fact, I have had books delivered the very next day. This is a success story worth propagating to the world because they have crossed a mindset of Indians who read books very less compared to US and who are suspicious to do business on Internet. I admire Sachin Bansal for his courage and his execution.

Venkatesh K Monday, October 4, 2010 at 5:17 AM PT

Tha is great.I am a new ebook publisher and this opens my eyes to the vast India english reading public,
Thanks Samantha

john lynch Monday, October 4, 2010 at 7:36 AM PT

Waiting for Bootstrapping II

Arumugham S. Monday, October 4, 2010 at 7:30 PM PT

Henceforth I have decided to buy books on line from flipkart online only

vijay kulkarni Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 9:52 AM PT

I purchase phone samsung guru Rs 1700/ by this order no OD11019180944 .recived 24 oct11 but there a problum Head free no mach . Meany time conservation THEY NOT CHANGE OR SANDED OTHER SET .So ple do so that I purchase many product but this time i h arras My Ph No 9350205145 Thanks

Sudhir K Sharma Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 3:33 AM PT

It’s not just about books… it’s about taking a risk on an emerging way of doing business.

Flipkart is nearly topple-cart

Arvind Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 7:15 AM PT

Unlike The regular eCommerce sites like Flipkart, MyDeals247 totally focuses on personalized offers based on the consumers’ preferences in the olocal cities. To start experiencing the real-time marketplace in your local city, visit

Nikita Monday, April 2, 2012 at 7:58 AM PT

Hi All,

I would like to share my experience with Flipkart. 1st Time I have purchased a product through Flipkart and what a pathetic experience I had. The biggest mistake I have done is I made the payment in advance where there was an option "Cash on Delivery". When I have gone through the shipping details, I saw they have mentioned "the product will be delivered in 2-4 business day", without any hesitation I purchased that and made the entire payment (Rs.3690) on 28th of Feb. It was suppose to deliver by 2nd of April which is still not delivered and whenever I call to customer care they are saying "Sir it will be delivered in 24 hrs".

Kanchan Ghosh Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 11:03 PM PT

I'm totally faded up listening this from last 3 days. I have written an e-mail on 2nd April which they have replied immediately telling their famous sentence "Sir it will be delivered in 24 hrs". After that I have written another couple of follow up mails but no response from Flipkart. Now when I'm calling to their customer care they are not even bother to talk to me and telling "will call you back in an hour" which never comes, when I ask my money back they are telling “It will take 10 business day to credit the amount in your account”. They just want to play with your money and their customer care dept. is best in giving false commitment, even you talk to their supervisor or floor manager or whoever it is. To be frank I do not feel these guys are professional at all.
Guys, my hearty request to all of you, think twice before you purchase anything through Flipkart.

Kanchan Ghosh

kanchan Ghosh Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 11:03 PM PT

hello nice to listen your invoice of you through the interview about the flipcart, no doubt its providing the smooth delivery of the products to the consumers with in time but i have a concern to share with you that is recently one of my friend got a timex watch through flipcart as a gift without signed over the warranty card becuse of that she wont get free service for one year i dont about the others who are taking mobie or electrical gadgets.
have a look over these kind of issues also…

Thank you,
Padmaja KVS

padmaja Monday, July 2, 2012 at 4:33 AM PT