Sujeet Kumar might be the founder of B2B industry leader, Udaan, but the beginnings and the journey to founding the firm was humble. For the uninitiated, Kumar also served Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal-founded Flipkart as the President of Operations. The journey leading up to joining Flipkart, in his own words, was strife with concerns and non-committance. He was also not keen on relocating to Bengaluru from Delhi, where he was since his IIT-Delhi days.
In the podcast with Nikhil Kamath, Sujeet Kumar, who appeared with Future Group founder Kishore Biyani and Meesho founder Vidit Aatrey, said that he was unsure about joining Flipkart but was coaxed by Sachin Bansal into visiting Bengaluru and learning about the company.
In 2004-05, some friends introduced him to an individual who agreed to take on Kumar as the co-founder of a KPO (knowledge process outsourcing), where they would take on projects and deliver them. However, in 2008, recession happened and the projects stopped coming, leaving the KPO that had 25-26 people, with no money.
It was around then that Sachin Bansal, who was Kumar’s junior by a year at IIT-Delhi and resident of the same hostel, Jwalamukhi, got in touch. He asked Kumar to move to Bengaluru, where they were working on a startup. That startup would eventually go on to become the e-commerce giant, Flipkart.
“Maine kaha start toh hum ne bhi kiya hai (I said, even we have started),” said Kumar. Kumar then told Bansal that he did not want to relocate to Bengaluru. “Bangalore mujhe nahin jana (I didn’t want to go to Bangalore),” he said. “I was in love with Delhi… Delhi toh chodna hi nahin hai…I was settled there (I didn’t want to leave Delhi),” said Kumar.
They eventually decided to shut down the KPO. And in early 2008, Bansal urged Kumar to at least visit Bengaluru. He then asked Bansal what they were up to. Bansal said, “We sell books.” “Is it like Amazon,” questioned Kumar, to which Bansal answered in the affirmative.
Kumar then decided to visit Bansal in Bengaluru but was not clear on what Bansal was up to, who used to be a quiet kid in IIT. Kumar told Bansal that he would not commit, but would like to meet the “doosra wala”, indicating Binny Bansal, who was two years junior to Kumar.
Kumar returned to Delhi and met the publishers, who told him that no one would buy books online in India. It is then he decided to read Kishore Biyani’s book ‘It Happened in India’, to learn how to solve retail issues.
The Udaan founder said that when he joined Flipkart, there were only two people in the firm, and they would get orders of 7-8 books.
In the podcast, Kumar recalled that when he joined, Flipkart was not a company, but a proprietorship. In 2009, Flipkart was registered.
“I took care of the supply chain, operation, category for the first four years. After that I focussed on building supply chain capability and operations, and then we started Ekart in 2010,” he said. Ekart is courier delivery services company, and a subsidiary of Flipkart.
Sujeet Kumar left Flipkart in 2016, following which he started Udaan with Amod Malviya and Vaibhav Gupta. Malviya and Gupta were both senior executives for Flipkart with Sujeet Kumar.