TechSparks 2019: Kalyan Krishnamurthy says his big dream is to take Flipkart to ‘a real exit’ in the next 3 years

At the 10th edition of YourStory's TechSparks, Kalyan Krishnamurthy spoke about the ecommerce industry, its growth, the customer story, his investments in startups, and exits.

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, the man at the helm of ecommerce giant Flipkart, may be the Chief Executive Officer of the company, but in his mind the key role of a CEO is being an enabler, or more precisely the Chief Enabling Officer.

During a rapid fire at a fireside chat with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma, the investor-turned-executive announced that his ‘big dream’ was to take the ecommerce giant to an IPO, or what he called ‘a real exit’, in three years.

At the 10th edition of YourStory's flagship event Techsparks, Kalyan revealed that the secret to being an effective CEO was having a high-level vision, a solid team, and grooming talent.

He added that 50 percent of his time was spent on hiring and grooming talent, and focusing on inculcating values and behaviour of employees; the remaining was spent with investors and government.

“I wasn’t a professional CEO. I was not a typical fund manager either. I was working with startup founders,” he said, addressing a packed and enthusiastic crowd at India's largest startup conference.

The focus on value creation

Claiming that Flipkart was a value player for the consumers it serves in both larger cities and smaller towns across India, Kalyan explained, “If you look at the US geographic spread versus its people spread, 11 percent of its land mass sees 75 percent of the local demand coming out of it. Even in China, roughly 75 percent of its demands comes from its 30-35 percent of its land mass. In India, 70 percent consumption comes from 55 percent land mass. India is really a distributed country."

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart, chats with Shradha Sharma, Founder, YourStory.

He added, “Adoption of ecommerce happened quickly in the top seven or eight cities of India. But that doesn’t represents the consumption in the country. This year, product ecommerce is going to be anywhere between $27 billion to $30 billion; five years from today, it would touch $80 billion. And 70 percent of that increase would come from Tier II and III towns."

He added that the growth in transactions from the non top eight cities was 3x of the growth of the country's top eight cities.

Winning Tier II and III cities

On how to win over the mushrooming Tier II and III market, Kalyan, said, "Consumption – from the starting point, i.e. device, UI, UX, form of language, form of speech, the way customer supports happens, the way payments and logistics happen – each and every aspect of these issues has to be solved. So far, technologies and ecommerce have been solved for the top eight cities.

He added that everybody has to come together to solve these issues. "The government has to partner with ecommerce companies to solve this," Kalyan said .

Focus on long-term growth

When asked about how Flipkart continued to step up on its growth even after its founders had left, Kalyan said, “The company has been built on strong fundamentals. We have extraordinary teams and we focus more on values and behaviour. We are not short-term focused; we are focused on the long term. And partnering with Walmart, it is now about the next 10 to 15 years of focus”.

As part of that long-term focus, for Kalyan, the ‘big dream’ is to take the company public in the next three years. Despite the exit Flipkart gave its investors last year when Walmart acquired the company in a multi-billion-dollar deal, the CEO claimed that the ‘real exit’ is not yet done.

"The meaning of exit means the stock of the company is fully liquid and anybody can sell or buy easily. We are not at the stage. Work has to be done on our exit."

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)

YourStory's annual extravaganza TechSparks brings together the best and the brightest from the startup ecosystem, corporate world, policymakers and, of course, the investor community. Over the past decade, TechSparks has grown to become India's most loved tech and startup platform for knowledge sharing and networking. A big thank you for all your support over the years and a big shoutout to our sponsors.


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