• Supriya Panchangam


Binny Bansal talks about his

Interview Transcript

Supriya: Hi everybody, I am Supriya. I am from Udhyam Learning Foundation. I am super excited to be here today because I am with Binny Bansal. Thank you so much for being here and for giving us this time.

Binny: Thank you, super excited to talk to you guys as well.

Supriya: So much of you and your work and this success has been written about. This success of Flipkart literally is the benchmark for success in the country today. I am hoping, we can make this conversation, little about the learning journey, about what it was like to create Flipkart.

Binny: It was kind of a journey of self-discovery and having parents who are very supportive, but they never pushed me that you go do this, or go do that, so I grew up in a very, sort of environment which fostered ideas and independence. And to sort of do what I felt, I wanted to do, rather than being forced to do things. By 6th ,7th I realized, I was good at mathematics and science. That’s when I started on my own, becoming a better student. One thing I was different from most others, which again I have picked up on my own, is the love for coding and so I was the only one in the entire school, who could code, back in Chandigarh where I grew up.

Senior schooling years, I was clear that I was good at math, science, and computers. If you are good at these 3 things, then you want to be an engineer, and obviously you want to be a computer science engineer. So when I reached college, I was good at coding, but there were people who were great at it. Again, I did my own thing. Like I liked some courses, I took them up, did a few things independently. What I thought was, things I like. I wanted to work and work in India and see how that goes. That’s when Sachin, who is my co-founder, was also in my team and there were some aspects of doing a startup in the background, but once these things came together, there was a potential co-founder and there was nothing great happening at work and then it just evolved into a mission of starting something.

Supriya: You know, I heard you say aspects of self-discovery and just independently pursuing what you wanted to do, what you thought you were good at. Tell us a little bit more about how that mindset, sort of evolved, in you, once you started Flipkart.

Binny: Going on an entrepreneurial journey, with the massive ambition of scale, I needed to take a lot of risks, I mean it is, you can’t, you have to experiment a lot, it involves a lot of risk-taking. I think the mindset of discovering, learning and risk-taking, a combination of them, was super super helpful, because we had started a business that we had, which involved dealing with the vendors, operations, things like that, and the only thing we knew was coding.

Supriya: Not a lot of us, who go through the formal education system are really exposed to this kind of mindset. We operate from the mindset of, we will learn how to do this and we will do it.

Binny: Yeah, I think the education system that we have hasn't changed, since last 50 40 years, in the country. What we learn in school is basically, you have to just be in a way, work hard, not take risks, and take a job. A lot of it is optimised towards landing a job, finally.

Supriya: Would you think, we can do differently at scale, so young people, who are exiting the education system, are willing to take a lot more risks, are willing to stick to their ideas.

Binny: Basically, having a very entrepreneurial mindset in the youth of the country at scale, at a massive scale, which is, I feel is very much required, given where and how the structure of the economy is going to be. How technology is going to change things, that will become more and more important.

Supriya: Yeah, yeah, as you rightly said. In the last 2 decades, what technology has done is enable a lot less people, to create a lot more value. How do you see this landscape changing and evolving in the next decade.

Binny: I think in the next decade, we will see a lot of this technology, sort of revolution happen. Technology is going to change all industries. I mean it started at B2C with Flipkart, Ola, Swiggy and others and it is now seeping into the B2B areas as well with Udaan and in the fintech area with a lot of other companies. That’s going to create opportunities for micro entrepreneurs to do business on these platforms in the future in a massive way and i think the skills and mindset required to do that is very different from the kind we learn at school.

Supriya: You know the first time I saw you, you were in Mekin’s office, you finished your meeting in our old office and I saw you coming out and I was like, hey I know this guy and that’s when Mekin told us, that you will be getting involved with us and you will be contributing. What’s special about it though. What is it that we do, that excites you.

Binny: I just associate with him and your mission in a big way and then obviously i have worked with Mekin very closely over many years and I think the way Mekin and Udhyam team has gone about in executing this, with a deep design approach to the problem is wonderful. I am really deep into understanding how to change mindsets and how to inculcate these mindsets, specifically in that type of a customer segment, I think has been mind blowing.

Supriya: The time that you spent with us, is really pushing us to be a lot more ambitious about the impact we want to create and just how to problem solve for it.

Binny : I have learnt a lot. I continue to be very excited and supportive of the whole Udhyam team.

Supriya: Thank you so much. Before I end this conversation, I want to do a little but rapid-fire with you. Yeah, are you ready?

Supriya: Thank you so much. Before I end this conversation, I want to do a little but rapid-fire with you. Yeah, are you ready?

Binny: Yeah, I don’t like them, but okay.

Supriya: I am gonna throw like a couple of phrases at you, and then you tell me what comes first to your mind.

Supriya: Impact at scale.

Binny: Flipkart

Supriya: Human potential

Binny: Massive change for good

Supriya: Entrepreneurship

Binny: The Future

Supriya: Youth of the country

Binny: Massive potential needs to be directed correctly

Supriya: Education System

Binny: Needs to be overhauled

Supriya: Mekin Maheshwari

Binny: Man on a great mission, great friend

Supriya: I am gonna throw a bonus one here and say Udhyam Learning Foundation

Binny: My favorite non profit organization

Supriya: Thank you so much for being with us and spending your time.

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