Punit Soni is an engineer, investor and advistor to startups. He is an ex-Googler and the former Chief Product Officer of Flipkart, an Indian ecommerce company.
We sat down with Soni to talk about his journey to America from Mumbai, India. What prompted him to pursue a MBA degree after working as an engineer in Silicon Valley for a few years? He did not succeed the first time around in getting into a MBA program. So, What prompted him to try again and again? What did he do differently that got him into Wharton’s MBA program? Armed with a MBA degree Soni joined Google.
LISTEN: PUNIT SONI ON WORKING IN SILICON VALLEY& COMING TO AMERICA:
Disrupt yourself is a mantra that Soni follows and he credits his mother for instilling that thought in him. After working at Flipkart for a year Soni is back in Silicon Valley.
This interview was originally aired on TV in the USA.
Disrupt and linear are two favorite words of Soni. We sat down to speak with him how he disrupted his life and pulled away from a linear career growth. How did he do it? What was the role of his parents, especially his mother, who encouraged him to take risks in his career.
Soni grew up in Mumbai (Bombay), India and studied engineering in India and the US. He got his masters at University of Wyoming and moved to Silicon Valley on the advise of his graduate advisor. He was all set on an engineering career when he decided to get a MBA degree. He did not make the cut the first time he applied to business schools. It took him 2 more attempts before he got into Wharton. What did he do differently the third time around that got him into Wharton?
While in his final year at Wharton Soni set his goal on becoming an investor in Silicon Valley. He quickly realized he was unprepared for the role. He joined Google instead and that changed his life.
Google played a pivotal role in Soni’s career. At Google he worked on search, social and mobile. In 2015 Soni quit Google and left for India to become Chief Product Officer at Flipkart. Earlier this year Soni quit Flipkart and returned to Silicon Valley.
What is next for Soni? How does he want to disrupt his life? Tune in to find out.
It is boom time in Indian e-commerce space. The heat is on for an epic race between Snapdeal, FlipKart and Amazon India. All 3 major players are vying to corner a piece of the lucrative Indian market that a Goldman Sachs report pegged at $100 billion (FY20201) reports the Economic Times.
FlipKart and Amazon have invested hundreds of millions dollars to expand and improve their operations in India. And now comes this news that Snapdeal has snagged $200 million in a fresh round of funding from Canada’s Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund and Iron Pillar according to LiveMint. SnapDeal’s valuation is now $6.5 billion according to The Wall Street Journal.
Snapdeal was founded in 2010 by Kunal Behl and Rohit Bansal. In 2011 the startup landed its first two investment rounds of $55 and there has been no looking back since then. Snapdeal, which is owned by Jasper Infotech has so far raised $2 billion in investments according to The Economic Times.
Snapdeal and FlipKart have yet to make a profit. Amazon with its deep, deep pockets is infusing a lot of capital to capture a valuable slice of the Indian e-commerce space.
Dr. Ashish Gupta of Helion Venture Partners is one of the earliest investors in India. About 10 years ago he moved from Silicon Valley to Bangalore, India and started investing in startups. Helion is one of the leading investors in Indian starups. Dr. Gupta has seen the evolution of the startup landscape in India and in Bangalore in particular. Helion Venture has raised over $600 million so far and is in the process of closing another new round of funds.
We sat down to speak with Dr. Gupta to find out about the current investment trends in Banglaore, India. Bangalore is the startup capital of India and has more startups than other any other Indian city. Has Bangalore stepped out of its world back-office as James Crabtree of The Financial Times put in? What is the startup scene in Bangalore like? How are startups exiting in India? It seems like acquisition is one of the exit strategies for Indian startups. Why is that? For example, Gupta’s Helion Ventures decided to exit Flipkart, an Indian unicorn company and we wated to find out why.
Dr. Gupta now divides his time between Silicon Valley and Bangalore, India.
This interview aired on TV in San Francisco bay area.
Former Googler Punit Soni has left Silicon Valley to join Bangalore-based e-commerce company Flipkart as its Chief Product Officer according to The Business Insider. This is an interesting development since Soni has left a high-profile job at Google to join Flipkart, another high-profile company, whose valuation is over $10 billion. Flipkart raised $700 million in its latest round of funding in December 2014.
The e-commerce space in India is pretty competitive with Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal duking it out and trying to capture the market.
Soni joined Google in 2007 and worked on Google news and archives for 2 years. And from 2009 he worked in Google’s mobile division and rose up to become VP of Product, Motorola Mobility according to his LinkedIn profile.
This is what Soni wrote in his Google Plus post on joining Flipkart:
“My goal and mandate will be to help build the world’s best product company with a global ambition. Over time, we will build programs to attract the best talent to Bangalore and also establish a significant presence back home in the Valley.”
But, given Soni’s strong, hands-on experience in the mobile space at Google – could it be that mobile will be one of his top focus at Flipkart? Mobile is a key factor in giving a competitive edge to any e-commerce company in India. If Flipkart wants to snag the top spot then the mobile piece becomes pretty crucial. It will be interesting to see what Soni brings to the table at Flipkart.
You can read Soni’s post on why he is joining Flipkart and NYT’s post on Soni joining Flipkart.