Bengaluru: Walmart-backed Flipkart will launch a venture fund to back early-stage startups within e-commerce, fintech and the payments space.
While the the fund would be reporting into Flipkart Group CFO Emily McNeal, it is expected to be headed by Flipkart’s head of corporate development and strategic partnership Nishant Verman, according to two people familiar with the matter.
“This is for Flipkart to get access to nascent and cutting-edge technology, relevant to accelerating e-commerce in India," said one of the persons cited above. “The companies could be related to cataloguing images, artificial intelligence, voice, etc. The idea is to grab global talent to benefit the Indian consumer and Flipkart."
This will be the first time that Flipkart has launched a dedicated fund to invest in startups. Prior to this, the company made several startup investments and acquisitions including the likes of Myntra, PhonePe, among others.
Mint couldn’t immediately ascertain the fund size.
Flipkart’s foray into investments underlines a global trend where several tech companies have launched their venture arms to tap into early-stage technology and talent.
These include the likes of, Google, Alibaba and Tencent — all of which have made several investments over the years. Flipkart’s parent company Walmart itself launched a startup incubator in 2017. Called Store No. 8, the incubator was launched to incubate companies developing next-generation technologies for the future of retail.
As for Flipkart’s new fund, the idea is to tap into innovations that are being created for smaller cities with over 400 million internet users, who lack trust, affordability and access.
“We are seeing startups today trying to solve unique challenges that could help bring millions more into the digital fold," said McNeal. “The aim is to seed innovation that is good for India and which promotes digital inclusion in a variety of spaces, by enabling startups to focus on bringing their ideas to life and scaling them."
'The Economic Times' newspaper was the first to report the development.