Over a decade ago Ambur Iyyappa, a young man from a town in Tamil Nadu famous for its biryani, moved to Bengaluru for an apprenticeship. Some time later he landed a job at a courier company where he spent the next few years working.
Today 32-year-old Iyyappa, the first employee of India’s largest e-commerce company Flipkart, is a multi-millionaire. Iyyappa, who was given shares when the company was in its nascent phase, is now the associate director of managing customer experience at Flipkart.
"When I joined the company, I didn't know I was the first employee. I had no clue what e-commerce was back then either," Ambur told The News Minute.
Iyyappa joined Flipkart in 2008, a year after it was found by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, two former Amazon employees. It was at that time that Iyyappa lost his job at First Flight Couriers, where he was employed as the Key Account Relationship Manager with the firm’s branch in Madiwala, Bengaluru.
After working for nearly four years with the courier company, Iyyappa took the risky decision of taking a break from work to pursue a three-month diploma course. When he returned, his bosses informed him that his position was no longer available.
Meanwhile, Flipkart had expanded rapidly and the founding duo realised that they needed an extra hand. On learning from one of the delivery boys from First Flight that his colleague was looking for a job, the Bansals took Iyyappa on board.
"We were not looking for much. All we wanted was a person who could speak some English and use a computer,” said Sachin.
"He was out of a job and had no prospects. He came at a very low salary of about Rs 8,000," Binny added.
But Iyyappa proved to be more than just a helping hand. With his photographic memory of all business transactions, Iyyappa went on to become an indispensable part of the team.
"Within the first week, he knew everything about everything we were doing. We did not have an order management system at the time. Iyyappa was our order management system. He remembered every status, every order," Sachin said.
The Bansals would later give the person, who recommended Iyyappa to them, a referral bonus of about Rs 5,000.
Like in his previous jobs, here too he looked after operations including planning the delivery routes and timings and handling customer support.
While Iyyappa's salary might have been meagre but today the shares that he earned at the company are valued at millions of dollars.
A man of few words, Iyyappa, who lives with his grandmother, mother and wife, enjoys addressing customer feedback and says his experience at Flipkart has been an absolutely enriching one.
"There is a clear focus on learning and development here," Iyyappa says.