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Flipkart: From A to Finish First

Smruthi Kishore

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Flipkart From A to Finish First,Startup Stories,Startup News India,2018 Latest Business News,Flipkart Business News,Indian Ecommerce Ecosystem,Indian Online Retail Market,Global Enterprise Clients,Flipkart Indian Market,Flipkart Founder

Close to 11 years ago, when the Indian ecommerce ecosystem was still in the nascent stages, one company, with an investment of Rs. 4, 00,000 did not know it would become India’s leading ecommerce player. Launched by IIT Delhi alumnus Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, today, Flipkart is valued at $11.6 billion. Slowly but surely, the firm gained investors such as Tiger Global Management, Tencent Holdings and Naspers.

But, the company faced some major competition in these ten years. From Snapdeal to eBay, the Bengaluru based ecommerce firm fought tooth and nail to gain a majority of the Indian online retail market. After a long drawn out battle, last year Flipkart and India’s next ecommerce major Snapdeal almost joined hands to become one entity. However, the deal didn’t come through as the Gurgaon based startup, Snapdeal, wanted to pursue an ‘independent path.’ The silver lining of this merger was Flipkart gained one of it’s biggest shareholders after ending the merger talks with Snapdeal.  With backing from Japan’s venture firm SoftBank, US based Microsoft and eBay among other investors, Flipkart was finally prepared to take on the world. However, the company faced a bigger threat in the form of the American retail giant Amazon led by Jeff Bezos.

The Flipkart versus Amazon battle was always present from the very word go. The real war, however, started back in 2015, when both Flipkart and Amazon decided to move into the online smartphone market. At that point, Amazon lost its foothold in the Chinese market, with other ecommerce platforms figuring out they could do what Amazon was doing in a faster and cheaper way.

With that happening on the side, founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, decided to do whatever it takes to keep their foothold strong in the Indian market. This included signing a cheque worth $ 2 billion to anyone who stood in its way! While this matter in itself was worrisome for Flipkart, the fact that Amazon was entering into the world of smartphones made things exciting.

Over the years, the Flipkart and Amazon war gave rise to a lot of exciting eyeballs, making everyone stand on edge with excitement. Flipkart wanted to be the reason Indians bought products on the Internet. Its focus on technology to solve product ecommerce for the domestic market put it in a league of its own. Even the storied Indian IT and BPO industry derived nearly 90% of its profitable revenues from global enterprise clients.

What makes the two ecommerce platforms stand neck to neck is the fact that the number of coders, as well as the technology used by both the companies. Refined to its core, this battle is a classic “homegrown pioneer vs. giant multinational” story on the grounds of  Nirma vs. Hindustan Lever, Thums Up vs. Coca Cola, or Mahindra & Mahindra vs. Toyota Motors; with technology as the mid ground. Flipkart has the scale and local footprint. Amazon has staying power and a platform it has seasoned globally for 21 years.

With SoftBank’s recent investment into Flipkart, the battle stands at an interesting level. As of 2017, the homegrown ecommerce platform raised $ 3.9 billion in two rounds of funding from SoftBank and Tencent. At such a time, even the idea of a potential investment from the biggest retail giant, USA based Walmart would give the boost it requires to beat Amazon once and for all. However, before that could happen Amazon decided to show its hand in the game as well.  The Seattle based company recently offered Flipkart a breakup fee of $ 2 billion to convince it to discuss an offer which analysts say would bring with it substantial antitrust challenges, as Flipkart and Amazon dominate the online shopping space in Asia’s third largest economy. Furthermore, Amazon is interested in buying about 51 to 55 % stake in the ecommerce platform. Whichever way the deal plays out, it is safe to say Flipkart has garnered a great deal of attraction from the international ecommerce marketplace.

Whether the deal goes through between Flipkart Amazon.com Inc., or with Walmart and Flipkart, it will be the biggest deal made by a US based company in terms of buying out another similar online platform. Regardless of how this flips, it would also be a win win situation for the Indian ecommerce company!

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Myntra Launches Its Own Wearable Platform

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The online fashion platform Myntra which is owned by the e commerce giant Flipkart, recently launched its software platform specifically for wearable devices. The wearable platform is called Myntra Wearable Platform which is developed by Myntra’s innovation labs unit. This online platform will offer its own line of wearable products as well as those developed by third party device makers. Just two months ago, Myntra acquired the Bengaluru based smart wearables startup, Witworks. Looks like the launch of the latest wearable platform was on Myntra’s cards already!

According to reports, the Chief Technology Officer of Myntra, Jeyandran Venugopal said,

The intent behind this platform is to not only allow our wearable products to co exist and leverage each other’s data to provide meaningful insights but also enable external developers to build apps or device manufacturers to integrate their own offerings to the platform

The platform would also allow wearable devices that could discover and talk to each other.

Myntra Blink Go Fitness Tracker, Myntra’s first smart wearable device.

The smart wearable device Blink Go, features a colour organic light emitting diode (OLED) display, heart rate sensor and activity tracker as well. The device tracks notifications, alerts and sleep patterns. Blink Go comprises of a sports mode to track specific exercise and workout routines. Other specifications include a battery life for more than three days, activity tracker and leaderboard to compete with friends across the world. This smart wearable device would be available for the latest versions of Android and iOS devices.

Blink Go would go on sale on 22 June during the Myntra’s End of Reason Sale. The product is priced at Rs. 1,679.

Venugopal added we are looking at building a line of wearable products that can complement with each other in an integrated manner. We are planning to bring in smart features through a combination of varied sensors and connectivity modules for audio wear, footwear, eyewear and apparels and are looking at acquiring 10 to 20 % of the wearables market over the next three years.

With technology reaching new heights, Myntra is aspiring to enter into the tech platform with its innovative products!

 

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OYO Flourishes Its Hospitality Business In China

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India’s largest operating hotel chain OYO Rooms, is now expanding its business in the hospitality industry in China. The company which is owned and operated by Oravel Stays Pvt., Ltd., subsists more than 11,000 rooms across 26 Chinese cities including Hangzhou, Xian, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Kunming. Lately, OYO has been busy investigating new growth opportunities and boom! The expansion of the hotel budget aggregator in one of the fastest developing countries China is one big achievement for the homegrown startup.

The young lad who is the founder and CEO of OYO, Ritesh Agarwal said, after our successful overseas expansion and operations in Malaysia and Nepal, we are thrilled to offer OYO hotels’ hassle free and standardized stay experience to guests in China.

The company has been growing exponentially and it claims around 100,000 rooms in India.  Ritesh added, the expansion is in line with our mission of creating beautiful living spaces by empowering hotel owners to become better hospitality players while ensuring an end to end controlled experience for our guests. Apart from the newest China, OYO’s foreign market presence includes Dubai, Malaysia and Nepal.

Another fascinating news for OYO is that the well known investor SoftBank Group is keen on doubling its investment in the budget hotel aggregator. SoftBank has been part of four funding rounds worth $ 512 million in OYO, since August 2015. Recently, the Chairman and Chief Executive, Masayoshi Son of SoftBank, called OYO Hotels a ‘next generation hotel company using the internet service’. Mr. Son also revealed his plans to support OYO Hotels in its foray into China through a joint venture.

OYO was founded in the year 2013 by Ritesh Agarwal who was a teenager then. He also happens to be a Thiel Fellow who got the idea for the business after a not so satisfying experience of staying in budget hotels in India. The hotel budget aggregator provides various convenient services to the customers that include bringing the long tail of small hotels online to generate bookings by ensuring minimum standards for travellers such as hot water, clean towels, linen and internet services.

The company would soon enter the unicorn club when it would raise fundings in the next round of capital. A unicorn startup is valued at $ 1 billion or more! At present, OYO is valued at around $ 260 million. 

With its latest diversification, OYO is definitely aiming high!

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These Two Powerful Women Own The Couch At 2018 Forbes Women’s Summit!

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The 2018 Forbes Women’s Summit kicked off at Pier Sixty, New York on June 19, making an immense impact. The event notices influential women including leaders, policymakers, entrepreneurs and artists from across the globe. These ladies come together to discuss how women surface the path toward an extraordinary future with courage and enthusiasm. The summit was initiated with a welcome note delivered by Moira Forbes, EVP, Forbes Media. Not only that but India’s most influential women, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi and actress cum activist Priyanka Chopra, both conveyed the last keynote of the day.

In conversation with Priyanka Chopra and Indra Nooyi!

Speaking about Priyanka Chopra, from Bollywood to Hollywood, she is the first Bollywood actor to lead a major drama series on American television. Also in 2017 Forbes’ ranked Priyanka on the 15th spot on the list of Most Powerful Women In Entertainment And Media. Apart from her acting prowess, Priyanka is also well known for her contributions as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Whereas, Indra Nooyi comes second on the Forbes’ list of most powerful women in business in 2017. Being marked among the highest ranking women of Indian heritage in corporate America, Indra Nooyi spoke about the beginning of her career in America at the 2018 Forbes Women’s Summit. She said, In my early days working in corporate America, I never really fit in. I worried about how I was perceived. I decided after a while that I’m never going to win the looks battle. So I’m going to focus on the brains. I focussed on doing the job better than anyone else could do it. Nooyi spoke her heart out to the women out there saying, If you struggle with these choices, you’re not crazy. You’re human. Moving over, Priyanka Chopra added, You may not know me, I’m an actor from India. I’ve done 50-something movies. But I’m also someone who is not defined by my ethnicity or where I come from. I’m a woman, I’m an actor, I’m an artist and I’d like to see where that takes me.

The conversation was packed with extremely intellectual talks and inspiring stories from their lives. The actress later spoke about how marriages in India have an impact on women’s careers. She added, Because I’m in my 30s, which is obviously over the hill, my mother said to me, you’ll get married the day you find someone who appreciates how hard you worked to get where you are and no one is the decision maker in my life. From marriage to interesting lifetime experiences, the two powerful women came out with their fierce stories.

Be it the corporate world or the entertainment industry, women have emerged as the modern day heroes and are still going strong!

 

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