Flipkart Labs ー Investing in ideas and talent to shape the future of customer-centric commerce: Q&A with Naren Ravula

To offer Flipkart customers across the country a gamified, interactive and immersive shopping experience in a digital world, Flipkart partnered with eDAO to launch Flipverse, a Virtual Shopping Experience in the metaverse enabling brands to organize unique product launches and create engaging experiences for users within the photorealistic virtual world. Flipkart Labs, with its focus on tech-based solutions for commerce, played a key role in the development and actualization of Flipverse. In this Q&A, Naren Ravula, VP, Head of Product Strategy at Flipkart and Head of Flipkart Labs, explains how.

Flipkart Labs

In April, 2022, Flipkart launched Flipkart Labs, an in-house innovation capability to evaluate, build, and learn from initiatives that redefine the e-commerce ecosystem. Today, Flipkart Labs explores Web3, Metaverse, NFTs and more, to build and create technology-based solutions for India. With this in-house innovation lab focused on the mission to accelerate the future of commerce from India, for the world, Flipkart is actively involved in shaping the future of customer-centric shopping in India.

In this Q&A, Naren Ravula, VP, Head of Product Strategy at Flipkart and Head of Flipkart Labs, shares insights and reveals how Flipkart is investing in the future of commerce in India with Flipkart Labs.

Excerpts from a Q&A:

Flipkart Labs has been key to Flipverse getting to where it is today. What was the idea behind Flipkart Labs? Where is the conviction coming from to build in the market today?

Innovation has always been foundational to everything Flipkart has done. If we turn back the clock 15 years, since the launch of Flipkart in India, if you told people we are going to build an e-commerce app in a country where, back then, there was little credit card penetration, no logistics capability in the country, people would have thought it is doomed to fail. But the founders took a leap of faith. That DNA exists within Flipkart even today.

Flipkart Labs

As the years have progressed, we have achieved many milestones in India’s e-commerce ecosystem, and we have zeroed in on the Web 2.0 opportunity, but we have always, at the back of our minds, realized that we need to pay attention to emerging trends. The intention behind Flipkart Labs is to be that one team in the company that can give its undivided attention and focus, on emerging trends and the impact of those trends on the business. When we envisioned Flipkart Labs, we did not want to develop an academic team in a corporate setting solely conducting research. We wanted to index on entrepreneurs. People not just innovating, but innovating in the context of a real market opportunity and putting the customer first, in everything they’re doing.

We started thinking about the most impactful trends for our business in the next 20-30 years, and Web 3.0 and Blockchain were clear opportunities for us. There was also a lot of organic interest in the Flipkart Labs team for the organization to go down this path. We want to be part of the conversation and help the ecosystem grow. In typical Flipkart fashion, we are not looking to do everything alone. We are looking to our ecosystem partners because good ideas and innovation ー nobody has a monopoly on those. We want to work with a broader ecosystem and Flipkart Labs is our vehicle to bring these ideas and innovation to the masses.

Flipkart Labs has gone from idea to launch in no time. What were the challenges faced? What are some of the lessons for other companies in the Web3 space?

At Flipkart, we wanted to invest not just money in these ideas but also recognize talent within the organization and invest their focus on these ideas and trends. To me, it comes down to ensuring that in everything we do, we need to have a forward-looking approach. We also need to incentivize our talented workforce and understand their success metrics.

In teams like Flipkart Labs, we can’t use the same metrics that other teams at Flipkart would chase. For us it’s about the ideas we generate and how we build on those. Determined entrepreneurs showcase the qualities and the startup DNA we are looking for. None of this would also be possible without the support of the top leaders at the organization. Hopefully, there are more companies out there, big and small, willing to take this journey, because there are still many uniquely Indian problems we can solve and build e-commerce for India.

Read more Q&As on Flipkart Stories and browse relevant news coverage in our Newsroom section

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