This column is about two things – a book review and my astonishment about a book that mesmerises from the word go. I try and read a book a month or at least 10 a year. I know I need to improve on that number. But when I start reading a book I complete it in two to three days or give up in as many. I had heard of the book a couple of weeks ago and got lucky to be invited to the book launch by the author himself thanks to a common friend. I bought the book at the launch thinking I would start reading it over the weekend. But even before the weekend could dawn I had completed devouring the 274 pages of pure delight.
The book is a behind the scenes account of how Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal started off in 2007 with Rs 4,00,000. They ended their ride at the empire they built eleven years later with a valuation of $20 billion. They both made a billion each as the deal closed. And they both had unceremonious exits. The 24 chapters start off with the story of one Ajay Bhutani in absolutely filmi style. It concludes with one of the co-founders sitting at a bar called Sathyas with Tapas Rudrapatna – one of the first employees at Flipkart. Quite an anti-climax to a journey that was quite the roller coaster. I recommend this book to students of business and communication, to shoppers and consumers, to start-up founders and investors. Basically, to everyone. It has drama, mystery, intrigue, politics and much more. No wonder the author has already sold rights for a web-series or motion picture.
My five takeaways from the book –
- No dream is to be discarded. If one has the courage to pursue them, do so. Whether it is about the boys who had the courage to start this company or the author who wrote a book that is already on the best seller stands, just do it
- An eye for detail. The way Binny and Sachin built the organisation with focus or the way the author has shared the smallest of incidents as if he was present when they happened is an eye-opener.
- Believe in yourself. How the two co-founders believed in themselves and later how Lee Fixel and Kalyan Krishnamurthy dug their heels deep is similar to how the author spoke to hundreds of people connected with the company to recreate the happenings spread over a decade and more.
- Storytelling is an art. One realises that the founders needed to tell the story of their idea and at times they had takers and times they did not. The book is a collection of many short stories weaved into a giant corporate tale by a master storyteller.
- Money can’t buy happiness. As the start-up grew from strength to strength and the valuation rose from $20 million to $20 billion it came with its set of challenges and pain points. Many sleepless nights and angsty moments would have been faced by the Founders. Similarly, the author would have not been able to bring out this magnum opus without going through many an ordeal.
Well, enough of this column. Time for you to head to Flipkart or Amazon and buy yourself a copy. Read it and you may thank me later for the recommendation.