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The road less taken: Udaan co-founder on working for Flipkart, starting his own company & success in B2B space

Udaan’s co-founder sheds light on the company’s success story.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 29, 2020, 12.35 PM IST
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Kumar who worked at Flipkart shared how he did not know anything about starting a business as he came from a small town in Bihar.
Kumar who worked at Flipkart shared how he did not know anything about starting a business as he came from a small town in Bihar.
At the TiECon in Mumbai on Tuesday at the Tata Theatre at the NCPA, Ranu Vohra, MD of Avendus Capital had a fireside chat with Sujeet Kumar, Co-founder of Udaan. The session between the two IIT Delhi men who studied 10 years apart explored India and the B2B story.

Kumar who worked at Flipkart shared how he did not know anything about starting a business as he came from a small town in Bihar. He told Vohra, “I tried for almost a year to get through the UPSC exam. It was what my parents wanted. In 2005, startup was not so popular. KPOs and BPOs were big – you joined a project and got money.”

Sachin Bansal who was Kumar’s junior by a year and stayed in the hostel asked him to join Flipkart. “I went to Bangalore from Delhi and saw that they started an e-commerce company. I decided to stay and work with Sachin and Binny,” he shared.

Challenge

Starting a new company with his co-founders Vaibhav Gupta and Amod Malviya in the uncharted B2B space was a huge challenge for all. “We started our journey together and the investment started coming in, we started seeing growth, capital looking more real. The model had great potential. We had to solve the B2B problem from the supply chain angle. Internet penetration was not there, so goods dealers were not using the internet. But data now has gone to the village level, with people using WhatsApp. The timing worked for us,” he said.
Agencies
Sachin Bansal who was Kumar’s junior by a year and stayed in the hostel asked him to join Flipkart.
Sachin Bansal who was Kumar’s junior by a year and stayed in the hostel asked him to join Flipkart.

Shedding light on the fundamental difference between B2B and B2C, Kumar said, “I realised that there are two kinds of growth when you concentrate on pricing. The internet, consuming things – pricing affects behaviour in B2Cs. In B2Bs, it is about supply chain, how to handle cash, solving catalogue problems, training.”

Overcoming

The Udaan co-founder explained how he and his other co-founders set the stage for the Bengaluru-based B2B e-commerce platform to grow. “In 2016, for the first six months – we just analysed the market. Went on the ground, spoke to retailers, suppliers and tried to understand their roles. We launched our beta in November 2016 after all the research. For seven months – it was used by all our retailers, manufacturers and then a year later in 2017, we started our company,” he said with a big smile.

The company today has grown to almost 27,000 people; Kumar shared which was applauded by the audience. This includes many who are not on Udaan’s payroll but are still employed by the company.

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