2015, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, collegemates from the Indian
Institute of Technology, Delhi, expect their online venture Flipkart to
reach gross sales of $1 billion. None of this would have been possible
if the two Bansals, who are not related to each other, had not teamed up
six years ago says Sachin, the chief executive officer of the company.
Why are co-founders considered so important in the start-up world?
biggest advice I have given to entrepreneurs is not to start alone. I
always tell them to find a co-founder with whom they have good chemistry
and with whom they share similar goals and vision for the venture.
Having a co-founder helps get through the ups and downs of starting up.
How did your partnership with Binny Bansal come about?
In IIT-Delhi we
did have a number of courses and projects together but did not know
each other very well. When we moved to Bangalore for work and shared an
apartment with a number of other friends we got to know each other
better. In 2007, when we were in Amazon and part of the same team, we
started talking about doing something on our own and discussed it with
other friends too. Soon, Binny and I noticed that we think alike and decided to start together. In the early days we had no real role definition.
late-2008 when we were talking to the major investors in the country
they kept asking us who was the chief executive. That is when we realized we
needed to figure that out. We went back, looked at what a CEO and a COO
does, spoke to advisors and then in quite an ad-hoc manner decided I
would be the CEO and Binny the COO. We did not really follow these designations and did whatever was required at a start-up.
sweeping the floor to hiring, the founders should be ready to do
everything. It was when we began to grow and started hiring senior
managers that we realized that we needed to define our roles better as
it was leading to confusion.
Personally, what is the advantage you feel you have with Binny Bansal as a co-founder?
A shoulder to cry on. A co-founder is
a person who can hold you together. We were a small company growing
rapidly in a new industry. There are mistakes we have made.
We did not blame each other when we made these mistakes.
How have you made your partnership work?
consult each other for almost everything. The interesting thing about
us is that though we might have similar backgrounds — both grew up in Chandigarh, went to the same college and worked in similar companies — our working styles are very different and complementary. Binnyis very organized, while I am impulse driven. I am more emotional and intuitive and Binny is very rational and is able to assimilate a lot of data.
What should entrepreneurs keep in mind when trying to decide on a co-founder?
People don’t realize how difficult this is. There is no rule; there is no job-description for a co-founder. It all depends on personalities. The basic requirements are patience, respect and understanding.