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Flipkart launches its first accelerator program to mentor startups

Flipkart has supported the entrepreneurial ambitions of its employees, but this is the first time it’s formally getting involved in a mentoring activity.

Startup accelerator photo. Source: Shutterstock.

Walmart-owned e-commerce major Flipkart said it has launched a startup accelerator program Flipkart Leap to mentor technology startups in B2C and B2B space with an aim to help new and upcoming companies grow, scale, and navigate the challenges of building a company. The company said that at the end of the program, it might invest in select participants.

This is one of the few similar programs launched by major e-commerce companies operating in India, the other one is Amazon’s Launchpad, an initiative aimed at helping Indian vendors reach out to Amazon’s vast customer pool.

Selected startups will be eligible for an equity-free grant of USD 25,000 to support their business. These startups would go through a 16-week mentorship program led by Flipkart’s leadership teams in operations, business, and product and technology segments. Flipkart said, this mentorship program would help “create world-class value-driven products by supporting them in building market-ready solutions” with a focus on bringing digitization and tech advancements in e-commerce related sectors.

It hopes to identify startups that are working on disruptive solutions and have the potential to change the landscape of Indian e-commerce in the next five years.

Flipkart Leap will select startups based on their relevance in five themes including design and make for India, innovation in digital commerce, technologies to empower the retail ecosystem, supply chain management & logistics, and enabling relevant deep tech applications.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India has the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, which is expected to grow at 12-15% annually. It said that, out of 50,000 new companies, over 9,000 are technology startups. It estimates that about two to three tech startups are launched every day in the country.

One of the criteria to be accepted for the Flipkart Leap program is to have a working prototype of the product with early adoption metrics. At the end of the program, the selected startups would pitch their model to investors, corporates, and other eco-system players. Flipkart might also make an investment, it said.

Much like other technology companies, Flipkart has a history of supporting entrepreneurial ambitions of its employees, but this is the first time it’s formally getting involved in a mentoring activity. In its 13 years of existence, a dozen Flipkart employees have started their own entrepreneurial journey with a handful of them able to scale their companies. A few well-known names include payment company PhonePe, B2B e-commerce unicorn Udaan, health and wellness company Cure.fit, and hyper-local delivery startup Runnr.