This is a case study for the hypothesis: Utility vs Community - How to kick start a new startup. → Flipkart is a general purpose ecommerce marketplace → Flipkart took the same path as amazon, starting off as a book store and slowly/iteratively evolving into a marketplace → Many new startups assume that it's okay to start off as a marketplace on day 1



If you didn't know already, The original version of flipkart only sold books. With a twist that flipkart was willing to deliver books anywhere in India and so they did.

Flipkart's name derives from page "flip" of a book and the "cart" of and e-commerce site.

Flipkart in 2008


Flipkart sold books to readers. That was it's utility and that's how flipkart built an audience.

When someone tried buying a book online in India, they were probably buying from flipkart.

Flipkart started in 2007 and in 2008, flipkart was selling about 10 books a day.

In 2009, flipkart had a working business model to raise money and I personally feel that a startup should only raise money when it has proven a business model with a few 1000 paying customers. Indiehackers can get 500-1000 paying customers.

Flipkart raised money and started buying other small businesses to integrate into itself. From music to electronics.


It was only in 2013 that flipkart moved into it's marketplace model.

Flipkart had an audience of buyers now regularly visiting flipkart and revenue to expand into other channels to acquire more audience.

A subset of this audience were sellers too.

Flipkart captured that audience and turned it into a network of sellers who could leverage flipkart's existing audience. Thus solving the second utility problem for sellers - Sales.

At this point you can argue that flipkart doesn't have a community

but a network that exists only when both sides, viz, buyer and sellers are part of the audience is a community.

Flipkart is a venue to for buyers(identity) to find sellers(Identity)

2013: Flipkart marketplace