The book talks about walking the extra mile, maybe a hundred miles, because e-business is not all about valuations and revenue model.
New Delhi: If you are looking for deep discounts, Flipkart is your answer. The company’s story is not just a big buck success story of a billionaire, it is a story of India’s biggest internet startup shaped by two of India’s relatively unknown dream merchants who want Indians to get deep, deep into cybersurfing at office and home.
The Untold Flipkart Story by seasoned business journalist Mihir Dalal is a wonderfully crafted journey of Sachin and Binny Bansals who continue to remain in the headlines despite their big bucks sellout. India’s biggest e-commerce success story started from a small office in Bengaluru and then slowly moved through layers and layers of work to eventually reach the summit.
Dalal’s research is brilliant, he shows why he is considered among the top business journalists in India. He writes in detail about the inexpensive name and why (shopping) cart was not written as cart but kart. The idea was to get the customers and offer them more than they expected. And yet, the Bansals showed they were not greedy, nor they were ambitious. They were not seeking instant big money like a lottery winner but wanted their masala plot to cook well. Their dreams were laced with reality, says the book.
The site was launched from a Koramangala apartment, and slowly things started moving and the Bansals started aiming for the sun. I loved the chapter where Dalal lucidly writes about the birth of Amazon in India, a blue blood rival to Flipkart and what it meant for the Bansals when they realised Amazon’s headquarters were also located in Bengaluru. Dalal does not go overboard in praise, he hates idol worship and does not call Bansals India’s answer to Steve Jobs. He makes it clear that his book is not about dreams, it is about what you do when your dreams come true. I remember Dalal telling a selected audience in Delhi how he rejected the idea of writing about India’s e-commerce companies way back in 2015 because he could not find the real story.
But Walmart’s 77% acquisition of Flipkart last August pushed him to take a serious rethink and relook, and the Untold Flipkart Story took shape. Dalal, who had been covering Flipkart for almost four years, found the story compelling—the cover says it will soon be a film—and finished the book around the time when Walmart took over, a very challenging assignment.
So what does the book tell us? It talks about walking the extra mile, maybe a hundred miles, because e-business is not all about valuations and revenue model, the most common term in the market. Flipkart to Dalal was not just business, it was about growth, empowerment and even liberalisation. It was India’s answer to the internet world which has its own rules. And then, the book is all about Amazon’s entry and the way it impacted Flipkart. Now it’s common knowledge that Amazon had a slow start. Till 2014, they were just a marginal player. In 2015 and 2016, the US giant expanded and almost came close to toppling Flipkart. But Flipkart still holds a slender lead, a slight edge over Amazon.
A brilliant read, no wonder Silicon Valley author and writer Brad Stone called the book Deeply Reported and added a smiley on the cover.