After Sachin Bansal, co-founder and executive chairman, and Binny Bansal, co-founder and CEO of Flipkart, Ankit Nagori’s was perhaps the most well-known face at the e-commerce company. Starting off in 2010 as a 24-year-old manager at India’s hottest consumer internet company, Nagori rose to become chief business officer in 2015. Along the way, he spearheaded some of Flipkart’s biggest triumphs – launching fashion and electronics as new categories, scaling the marketplace as he on-boarded 50,000 sellers, flagging off Big Billions Day 2015, and more. However, working for one of India’s biggest internet companies wasn’t enough for this IIT Guwahati alumnus. He wanted to start his own venture. He had once tried his hands at entrepreneurship and burnt his fingers. That was way back in 2007, when he had started a social network called Youthpad.
But the startup spark refused to die. In February this year, Nagori resigned from Flipkart and soon after, announced he was setting up a healthcare, sports and fitness company with Mukesh Bansal, co-founder of Myntra and head of marketplace at Flipkart, who, too, had quit the e-commerce company. Their departures followed a restructuring at Flipkart the previous month when the company named Binny Bansal its new CEO. While many connected the rejig and the resignations by Nagori and Mukesh Bansal, the two maintained they had the Flipkart founders’ blessings for their new venture. In this interview with Techcircle.in, Nagori speaks about his new firm, his innings at Flipkart and the learnings from India’s biggest homegrown e-commerce company that he plans to apply in his startup. Edited excerpts:
Why did you choose to enter the healthcare, fitness and sports space? Was it triggered by customer insights you received while at Flipkart?
The top sellers in Flipkart, as I knew it, were mobile, fashion, technology and books and getting insights for my venture from that was actually difficult. However, If you look at the top five industries in our country, healthcare is one of them. We also wanted to target a sector that could be disrupted through technology, and I believe the time is now ripe for intervention.
I would rather take an insight from the Indian scenario where health and medical care accounts for a major part of an individual’s monthly expenditure. This also includes health and medical insurance. I believe India will build a solution for healthcare which will be adopted across the globe. We do not have the baggage of older solutions.
What is the size of the total addressable market for healthcare, sports and fitness?
Healthcare is currently close to a $100 billion market and will be a $200-250 billion opportunity within the next five years. This also includes sports and fitness, which is a small subset of that. I also believe that the sports and fitness market in the country is currently under-penetrated and there is scope for a lot of disruption.
Can you outline the contours of your new venture?
We are still figuring out the synergy. While we are clear that it will indeed be a health, fitness and sports venture, whether it will be professional sports or just leisure sports, as part of active fitness, is something we will eventually decide.
When will you roll out the new platform?
We are still in the process and yet to finalise a name. It is going to take another 4-5 months for the launch to materialise.
Your second entrepreneurial plunge follows top-level changes at Flipkart. Your ex-colleague Punit Soni had told VCCircle that it had a role in his decision to quit. Were you also unhappy with the way things were being run at Flipkart?
My entrepreneurial plunge is totally independent of the developments in Flipkart. I have worked in Flipkart for a long time and always had a cordial relationship with the founders. I had been contemplating entrepreneurship for a very long time and things just fell in place now. To be able to convince them, I had to show that I had the right idea and team in place. There is also this problem of inertia involved when you try to do something new. Luckily, I had the right idea in place and Flipkart agreed to let me go.
How was it working with Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal? Can you list five things that Flipkart taught you?
Both the bosses gave me a lot of freedom to operate. They have this knack of backing talent to the hilt. The freedom one gets in Flipkart, the kind of market in which we were operating with the size of the opportunity being so big, it was like operating a new entrepreneurial venture on a daily basis. It was a new lesson every day on growth and sustainability.
I may not be able to give you five takeaways but Flipkart has taught me to take risks and think big. I can also say this in the context of the problem I am now trying to tackle, which is very much different and much bigger in scope than my first venture. I have seen the growth of a rapidly scaling company and also the challenges that come with it. There’s no doubt I am more ready now, than ever, to handle the challenges of entrepreneurship.
Is it true that the Flipkart founders may back your new venture. Are you looking to rope in other new investors?
Right now, we are not looking to raise any external funds. Mukesh and I have bootstrapped the venture with $5 million of our personal money. However, we will definitely talk to investors at the right time.
You have been an angel investor, backing startups such as Rapido and Flashdoor. Which are the sectors that interest you?
I think the offline food and beverage industry will come up in a big way. There is a huge opportunity to create an Indian equivalent of a McDonald’s or a Burger King. Likewise, transportation and logistics, which is more of an unorganised industry at present, is a very promising sector and we will see multiple disruptive companies coming up in this space.
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