Business Standard

Flipkart CEO wanted to be a gamer, Snapdeal chief a food and film critic

Five founders of e-commerce start-ups, four of them Bansals, say they had alternative ambitions chalked out

Sachin Bansal
Sachin Bansal
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and Binny Bansal, the now-famous founders of Flipkart, had closely-linked in case this did not happen. In fact, the five founders - four of them Bansals (not related to each other) - of the top-three companies (Flipkart, and Snapdeal) said they had alternative ambitions chalked out.

What would they have done in life, if didn't happen? To that question posed by Business Standard, Flipkart chief executive officer (CEO) Sachin Bansal said he would have wanted to become a professional gamer. Software engineer and chief operating officer (COO) of Flipkart Binny Bansal's reply was not far off: "I would have liked to build computer games."

Flipkart's Bansals, both 32, now valued together at an estimated $1 billion, did many things together. They were classmates at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and worked at Amazon at the same time before founding the online bookstore, now a diversified e-commerce company pegged at $7 billion according to industry estimates.

Mukesh Bansal
Mukesh Bansal
Another well-known Bansal in the e-commerce space, Mukesh Bansal, 38, a computer science engineer from IIT Kanpur who founded fashion portal Myntra, now acquired by Flipkart, said he would have turned to academics.

Kunal Bahl, 30, CEO and co-founder of Snapdeal, another leading e-commerce company, would have opted to become "a travelling food and movie critic, and eventually make documentaries". Bahl's long-time friend and co-founder and COO of Snapdeal, Rohit Bansal, also 30, however, pointed out: "If not Snapdeal, we would have been running some other business. The entrepreneur 'keeda' (worm) existed in us since childhood," said Rohit.

Besides the surname being common for four of them, all five come from northern India. Sachin and Binny are from Chandigarh, Mukesh from Haridwar, Kunal from Delhi and Rohit from Malout (a small town in Punjab near Bhatinda).

Their background is somewhat diverse though. Sachin's father has been in business and mother a homemaker, his brother runs a consumer goods company, he's married to a dentist and has a four-year-old son.

Binny's father retired as chief manager at a bank and mother is with the government; has no sibling; and is married to a home-maker.

Mukesh, who worked in the Bay Area (San Francisco) of the US for 10 years with early-stage start-ups in engineering and product management roles, said he has been "able to bring back the apparel trade back to his family in the form of Myntra". His father was into apparel trade and then shifted to a government job. There's another Bay Area connect in Mukesh's life - one of his sisters works for Google at Mountain View, a city in Santa Clara County in the Bay Area. The second sister is employed with HCL.

Other than Kunal, who's a Wharton graduate, the four Bansals studied in IIT. If Kunal keeps busy in the promising online retail business, he said his wife, Yashna, ran a confectionery business. COO Rohit's wife, Parul, is an architect and has also designed a couple of Snapdeal offices. While both Kunal's and Rohit's fathers have been in business, Kunal's mother is an interior designer and Rohits mother a home-maker.

When you ask them about their goals, these entrepreneurs prefer to stick to the companies they have founded. Sachin and Binny said it was "to position Flipkart as a world-class Indian technology company". Mukesh said he wanted to "change the way people shopped for fashion", while remembering Myntra as the ultimate destination.

As for Kunal and Rohit of Snapdeal, they wish to create "life-changing experiences for thousands of small businesses and millions of consumers in India using technology as a great socio-economic equaliser", just like China's Alibaba.

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