Era of Swadeshi is back: Five young Indians take on global biggies like Amazon and eBay for top honours in the country's exploding market for online retail.
Online marketplaces Flipkart and Snapdeal, apparel retailer Myntra and eyewear retailer LensKart all have Bansals at the helm. Such is their clout that they account for nearly Rs 10,000 crore of the total online retail pie of about $2 billion.
But their adeptness at trade and commerce is not a state secret. As a sub-sect of the Aggarwal community, the Bansals are known for running a tight ship when it comes to business and entrepreneurship.
"We (Bansals) have the math, finance and data skills that are extremely important for e-commerce," said Rohit Bansal who teamed up with schoolmate and Wharton alumnus Kunal Bahl to set up online marketplace Snapdeal in 2010.
The Bansals of the new economy also sport degrees from IIT and IIMs. The five Bansals with their four companies - Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal and LensKart - set up shop within the last seven years and control about 85% of India's entire e-tailing industry.
But they have to contend with the might of $75-billion (Rs 4.5 lakh crore) Amazon, which entered India last year and is investing heavily.
Heading the fightback are Sachin Bansal, 32, and Binny Bansal, 31- founders of Bangalore-based Flipkart - who met each other while studying at IIT-Delhi. Their company today generates about Rs 6,100 crore in sales, half the industry total.Flipkart is also the biggest challenge for Amazon, a company where both the Bansals honed their skills before setting up on their own in 2007. Coming second is Snapdeal, whose Rohit Bansal, 31, graduated ahead of Sachin and Binny from IIT Delhi.
"My ancestors from my paternal and maternal sides have all been businessmen," said Rohit Bansal, who is from Malout, a small town in Punjab, just four hours from Chandigarh where the Bansals from Flipkart grew up.
Snapdeal's turnover is now half of Flipkart, and it is expected to cross the $1 billion mark next year. The Bansals are making a mark not just in horizontal marketplaces, but also single-category retail. Bangalore-based Myntra Designs, founded by another IITian Mukesh Bansal, is giving stiff competition to Flipkart in apparel, one of the highest-margin categories, where profits range from 30% to 50%.
"It has come full circle with me getting in fashion retail online," said Mukesh Bansal, CEO at Myntra, who hails from Haridwar. His father had opted for a public sector job over joining the family business — ironically, clothes trading. "No family influence made me think of entrepreneurship. But the startup bug bit me in Silicon Valley," said Myntra's Bansal, 38, who moved to India to start Myntra in 2007. His venture is targeting sales of Rs 1,500 crore next fiscal from apparel sales, the largest in its category.