India—Flipkart Internet Pvt., tops among India’s startups with a valuation of $11 billion, is on track to become profitable in two years, the online retailer’s finance chief said.
Even as more people start shopping online in India, “it will take time for us to get to profitability,” Sanjay Baweja said in an interview.
The company would consider going public once it turns a profit, he said, adding that Flipkart is looking at acquisitions of smaller technology-driven companies.
Flipkart, India’s largest online marketplace by sales, has been operating at a loss because of heavy investment to build its back-end and delivery infrastructure. Because it is private, the company doesn’t disclose its financial results.
Founded in 2007, Flipkart got its start selling books and then added electronics before becoming a retail platform for businesses to sell their products. In 2013, Flipkart began selling its own branded products, such as tablet PCs and wearable gadgets, a course similar to that taken by Amazon.com Inc.
By early 2015, Flipkart had 40 million registered users and hosted 30,000 merchants selling millions of products, from electronics to clothes to sporting goods. The company has more than 30,000 employees.
The startup, founded and still led by two former Amazon employees, Sachin Bansal andBinny Bansal, has been maintaining a lead in India’s small but fast-growing e-commerce market. It benefits from substantial financial backing from international investors including U.S.-based Tiger Global Management and South African media company Naspers Ltd.
However, competition has been intensifying. Amazon is building up in India, hoping to take advantage of the surge in Internet use. Last year, the Seattle-based company said it would invest $2 billion to expand its Indian operations.
Mr. Baweja said that as more people shop online, each delivery by Flipkart will include more products, cutting the company’s relative costs and aiding its profitability.
India had nearly 300 million Internet users last year, and that number is likely to double in the next five years as the use of cheap mobile devices rises sharply. Flipkart is aiming more than double its annual sales volume to $8 billion this year.