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Flipkart launches accelerator program to back early-stage startups

E-commerce major Flipkart has launched its accelerator program ‘Flipkart Leap’ to back early-stage startups. Flipkart Leap will shortlist companies in both consumer Internet and B2B for its 16-week virtual program. 

The program has identified five themes – design & make for India, innovation in digital commerce, technologies to empower the offline retail, supply chain management & logistics and enabling relevant deep-tech software or apps.

In a nutshell, Flipkart Leap will pick up startups that suit its ecosystem. The Walmart-controlled company appears to be the first large scale e-commerce company to launch an accelerator program. Amazon also has an accelerator program, but it’s primarily centred around its merchant ecosystem.

“Flipkart Leap is aimed at unlocking this potential and nurturing new ideas that bring innovation, curiosity and unconventionality to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, while boosting the government’s ‘Start-Up India’ initiative,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Chief Executive Officer, Flipkart Group.

Selected startups will be mentored by Flipkart’s internal teams across business, operations, product and technology verticals. Besides mentorship training, shortlisted startups will get an equity-free grant of $25,000 and the program will be managed by the company’s product team, led by Naren Ravula.

Several venture capitals and angel networks run accelerator programs in India, but Sequoia Surge has emerged as a preferred destination for startups. Its community in India grew to 27 in the past 18 months. Last year, Blume Ventures also launched Arka Venture Labs to facilitate the global transition of B2B startups in India.

Flipkart Leap appears to be an attempt to find startups that could help the company in strengthening its infrastructure and nurture early-stage ventures with experience and expertise. The program will act as a catalyst for startups who don’t get ample support in the niches as mentioned earlier. Going forward, it would be interesting to observe how Flipkart creates a push for the growth of early-stage startups in the Indian ecosystem. 

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