I have just transplanted myself from Flipkart Bangalore to Flipkart Delhi, and I wasn’t the least bit prepared!
I joined Flipkart when we had but one office, the one in Bangalore … it was also the office Flipkart had relocated to from its earlier home, a room in the house of first one Bansal, then the other. Since then, we relocated again to another part of Bangalore … and also went on to set up an ancillary center in Delhi.
We are in the heart of the Indian Publishing Industry, on the main artery which is Ansari Road. I had often heard the fairytales from others; Oppressive heat and books as far as the eye can see. Finding myself there now … I see the earlier comment as an understatement. The heat is not oppressive, it’s crippling. As for the books, well, you can shut your eyes and throw a stone on Ansari Road, you’ll hit a book. You walk into a random office on Ansari Road, 10-1 it’ll be stuffed with books. You trip on Ansari Road … it’ll be because a book stubbed your toe … and it’ll be books again that’ll cushion your fall.
I was unprepared on all counts: the scale of Ansari Road, the Delhi heat, and one crucial factor … the address of Flipkart Delhi!
Now I don’t use a cellphone (but I’m not a Luddite either) and had no contact details of anyone … apart from the Customer Service number. And it was past 6pm, around when customer service shuts shop.
So I found myself at an STD booth soaked through, calling CS, hoping they were around. They were, but are one persistent bunch! They kept insisting it was pointless going to our warehouse in Delhi – we don’t really have an over-the-counter section. All orders are placed online and get processed so.
I follow, completely. But I persisted … I have come all the way from Bombay (which I had, I did a Bangalore-Pune-Bombay-Delhi route), I’m sweating here in Delhi’s Darya Ganj, and I really need to get to the Flipkart office.
Customer Support was sympathetic, but didn’t let up. We don’t sell books at our warehouse. Period.
Fair enough. I’m glad they stuck to their guns … but as a Flipkart employee traveling to Delhi on work, I HAD TO GET TO THE OFFICE. I’m glad they finally realised it was me! I was promptly given the number of someone here, who I called next.
He was in splits when I told him what happened … and he asked me where I was. I searched for a suitable landmark, which turned out the be a huge board of one of the biggest Publishers around. A second round of laughter at the other end of the phone … “Why didn’t you just walk in to their office and ask for where Flipkart is, they’d tell you!”
10 minutes later I finally found myself in Flipkart. Which is where I find myself now.
And the phrase “Same Difference” comes to mind.
What is truly amazing is that the “Flipkart Culture” has taken root here is well. Phenomenal, really! It’s hard to explain, but If you worked at Flipkart, you’d know exactly what I was talking about.
What has also followed is the damned power cuts! Someone* just sent me a link that he thought I should take a look at.
*Is there a better word to replace “someone”? Essentially, a customer who is now less of a customer and more of a friend. Or I could just call him Ravi.
Bezos is talking about Amazon in a nutshell, and later a bit about Zappos. Some of the anecdotes he recounts are common ones (if you follow stuff like this). What brought a smile to my face was the bit at the beginning where he talks of setting up Amazon in a room with a bunch of computers and a tangle of wires – and power surges and cuts if you tried connecting a vacuum cleaner.
It was exactly the same in our old office! I have a feeling Sachin and Binny researched this and took notes: “We must start small just like Bezos and must have enough computers and not enough power. We will then rule the world!” For Bezos and Amazon, it was a hurdle. For Bansals and Flipkart, it was reality. We are in India, and power cuts are common.
… and about the UPS, I can’t explain it better than Fly, You Fools and the UPS Power Supply
Here’s the whole video: