Mekin Maheshwari, Flipkart, On How To Give Wings To Your Startup Dreams

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Life has been the best guru for Mekin Maheshwari, teaching him to constantly face change and master uncertainties from a very early age. “My father had a transferable job and so we shifted cities every three years. I was admitted into a new school every time, and I had to constantly adapt to new environments,” reminisces Maheshwari. And today, he does just that. The challenges that Flipkart throws at him are varied and more often than not without precedence, but he definitely knows how to chart innovative and successful strategies to overcome those challenges.From a young lad, fresh out of PESIT, Bangalore, to being the President (Engineering) at Flipkart.com, Maheshwari’s career growth has been phenomenal and inspiring. In the course of a decade, he has worked with giants like Yahoo, where he brought in patents for technologies like an SMS-based short code platform. And now at Flipkart, he is busy dreaming big. Mekin says that “no fear and ambition” is what drove Flipkart from the very beginning, which was clearly reflected through the attitude of founders Sachin and Binny Bansal. “Working on a product ‘for India, built in India’ provides a high … there is a sense of ownership as well as responsibility and the impact of what you create is direct and tangible – it’s like being a harbinger of change. Also every time you get it right, the customers’ expectations move up another notch throwing up another exciting challenge,” he adds.

Mekin believes that Flipkart as a company has the ability to change mindsets and impact lives. “We set out with a challenge to change buying behavior online and we have, to a large extent, managed to do that,” he remarks. Flipkart now sells 7 lakh items monthly and has witnessed a phenomenal 100 per cent growth Quarter on Quarter. And Mekin has played an important role in its success. “The key is the right attitude”, says Mekin personifying a humble yet curious approach to seeking solutions.Mekin has experienced his share of highs and lows while working at Flipkart since he joined the firm in 2009, but he has always made sure that he learnt from challenges and used these experiences to steer Flipkart towards much success. “As an early stage venture, especially one without precedents, you need to accept you are going to make mistakes. The idea is to take your faults and pitfalls in your stride and come up with improvised solutions. It is the only way you grow professionally,” says Mekin. He believes in being flexible and smart enough to work with any technology.

Mekin’s work mantra is bringing together business, product and engineering in an organization and this reflects across the organization at Flipkart, “The engineering team in Flipkart is top notch because they have a very high sense of involvement and commitment ... they are not specialists but generalists who are ready to learn what it takes to build a superior product ... ready to explore … make mistakes ... learn and improvise”.

It seems the theory, ‘If you want to do something, just go ahead and do it,’ is what makes Flipkart stand out from other similar players in the sector, which has fueled its growth.

My key takeaways as a Startup from this conversation with Mekin -

  1. Make mistakes, learn fast and improvise on it faster
  2. Build a venture where all the employees have a sense of high ownership/involvement - they should know what they are creating and be aware of the impact they create
  3. Uncertainties and Challenges are great opportunities in disguise, if you have the right attitude
  4. Having No Fear while starting up is a liberating state of mind - you can be most productive when you don't have the fear of losing

Shradha Sharma