Flipkart to go slow on startup funding: Bansal

Bengaluru, Jul 9: Fresh from the Walmart deal, Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal has said the homegrown ecommerce giant will no longer proactively look to invest in companies, unless it is strategic to the business.
“Flipkart will look at investing less in companies. There was a time probably when there was more cash than we needed. We have been investing in non-series A (funding rounds),” Bansal said in a discussion with Subrata Mitra, partner at venture capital firm Accel, at an event organised by angel investing platform LetsVenture on Saturday.
Flipkart has previously invested in startups, including Silicon Valley-based AI company F7, home rentals venture Nestaway, peer-to-peer marketplace WeHive, and online freightbooking service Zinka. It was reported earlier this year that it is looking to invest $25 million in at least one other AI company in Silicon Valley.
Binny said their learning has been that you must use cash to further your interest and for differentiation, “and for that purpose you can look at strategic investment which will give you exclusivity or business upside which you won’t get otherwise”. The capital you raise is not for investing, he said. “We are not in the business of investing. The investments we make will be strategic in nature,” he said.
In May, US retail giant Walmart acquired a 77% stake in Flipkart for $16 billion in the largest online commerce transaction in the world.
Bansal also spoke about how his founding partner Sachin Bansal and he didn’t have defined roles in the company early on. “It was very fluid. We used to try everything. I did marketing, so did he. He would also try to do back end for some time. We went through the journey and he was clearly better at doing somethings like designing the website, looking after marketing and search content marketing (SCM).
I had tried it before and failed miserably. Our roles transformed. I was on the other side — meeting vendors, how to automate and customer support. There I was more intuitive. Within 4-5 months, roles themselves transformed,” he said.
Bansal talked about some of the things that worked and those that didn’t in hiring. “We found that the right fit for Flipkart in the first 3-5 years of growth were young, passionate individuals – with probably very little experience, but a high ability to learn and loads of common sense.