Flipkart launches startup promotion programme; may invest from its fund

Topics Flipkart | Startups | Lockdown

India currently has the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world, with consistent annual growth of 12-15%.
Flipkart announced the launch of ‘Flipkart Leap’: the e-commerce giant’s first startup accelerator programme to help new and upcoming firms.

The Walmart-owned firm said this would, in turn, contribute to India’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and boosting ‘Start-Up India’. 

Flipkart Leap will identify business-to-consumer and business-to-business startups and help them scale through an intensive 16-week virtual programme. Shortlisted firms will win an equity-free grant of $25,000. 

Flipkart’s leadership from business, operations, product, and technology will mentor the selected companies. It would share best practices, in addition to master class sessions hosted by industry experts.

“With innovations and disruptions in the field of technology coming about each day, we want to be at the forefront of driving scalability and helping these startups bring value to the industry as well as Indian consumers,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive officer, Flipkart Group. “Flipkart Leap is aimed at unlocking this potential and nurturing new ideas that bring innovation, curiosity, and unconventionality to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem while boosting the government’s ‘Start-Up India’ initiative."

The firms applying for Flipkart Leap should be based out of India. They should have a working prototype with early adoption metrics. Post the completion of the programme, the final participants of Flipkart Leap will pitch their successful model to investors, corporates, and other ecosystem players on the demo-day. They may also be considered for funding by Flipkart from the company’s $100 million fund that is being managed by an internal investment committee.

“When these startups graduate out of the programme they will be eligible for being considered by the investment committee if they align with the thesis that the committee is looking for,” said Jey Venugopal, chief product and technology officer, Flipkart. “They (startups) would have some level of preferential access to the larger investment programme.”

Flipkart was initially looking to provide a physical acceleration programme including offering co-working space within the company’s campus. But Venugopal said that the company would now likely conduct the programme “completely virtually” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the Covid-19 crisis has thrown up a lot of interesting challenges and therefore opportunities for companies to innovate.

“Covid-19 being such a large change to society in terms of how people interact and function, there will be some level of product strategy thinking and reconfiguring of the vision,” said Venugopal. “When the startups are thinking through it, they may benefit from the insights from our strategy teams and product managers.”

Flipkart Leap has identified five themes to shortlist relevant high-potential startups. These include design and make for India, innovation in digital commerce, and technologies to empower the retail ecosystem. The other areas include supply chain management and logistics, and enabling relevant deep tech applications. These themes have been identified to tap into the most innovative solutions in the technology and consumer internet space, uniquely built for Indian consumers. 

The focus is on bringing digitization and tech advancement in these thematic areas. These also include any firms that will be working on disruptive solutions that have the potential to transform the landscape of e-commerce in the next five years.

India currently has the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world, with consistent annual growth of 12-15 per cent, according to industry reports. There are 2-3 tech startups born in India every day. Flipkart said with growing governmental support and an improving regulatory environment for starting up, the segment is well-poised to effectively tap into the next billion consumers.

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