Amazon isn’t alone in wanting to use drones for delivery of small payloads. Flipkart, India’s largest e-tailer, wants to use the vehicles for delivery to rural areas, however, civilian drones are not allowed in India yet. Flipkart, based in Bangalore, founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (no relation), is hoping to convince their government that the remotely controlled vehicles provide a necessary service in remote areas of the country.
According to Forbes, Flipkart closed a funding round on May 18 for more than US$500 million, at a valuation of $15.5 billion. The paperwork for this round was for existing investors, most prominently Tiger Global. This bumps the net worth of both Bansals to $1.16 billion each, making them the first e-commerce billionaires in India. Sachin Bansal told the Hindustan Times that the company is keeping its options open to deploy robots, too. Flipkart is paperless in large parts of its logistics and views itself as more of a technology and engineering company, with expertise in the supply chain.
“We do all our technology in house,” Bansal said. “We don’t rely on third-party companies. We don’t look at technology as a support.”
Flipkart is contemplating raising more capital and borrowing anywhere from $200 million to $500 million this year. The company hopes to acquire some start-ups, increase market share through discounting, expand its logistics team, ramp up its technology and product teams, and add more high-profile Silicon Valley talent. It just moved into a new property in Bangalore, billed as India’s largest commercial real estate deal.
Photo: Sachin Bansal, CEO of Flipkart