In an unexpected way both co-founders quit their jobs and moved to Bangalore in 2015 to start the new venture—Meesho.

Founded in 2015, the Bangalore-based start-up, Meesho, is an ecommerce platform that undertakes retail distribution by enabling small retailers to connect and sell their products online via various social media channels.

The platform has over two million resellers and more than 20,000 manufacturers from various parts of the regions who get distribution through Meesho

How it all started?

Sanjeev Barnwal, an alumnus of IIT Delhi, moved to Tokyo, Japan and started working for Sony Corporation but he got fascinated by the start-up growth in India and wanted to join the start-up. He called up his classmate, Vidit Aatrey who was working in ITC as Supply Chain Manager, to ask if there is any start-up that he can join, but Aatrey was interested in creating the start-up rather than joining one. That’s how it all began.

In an unexpected way both of them quit their jobs and moved to Bangalore in 2015 to start the new venture—Meesho.

Initially, both decided to start a fashion-based platform where they would remap all the marketplace for customers via an app that would allow them to try on the dress before buying it. It was named as Fash Near but it did not work out as expected.

Then, they came up with another start-up idea in the same year and created a platform where offline retailers can take their business online and sell their products over different social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp etc. that was Meesho!

Where Meesho stands today?

Meesho, in a very short span of time, has received a robust appreciation from the customers of India as well as the investors. In recent times, the start-up has raised over $200 Mn funding and all set for the next stage in its journey. Besides the fashion vertical, the start-up is also looking to enter into other platforms like travel, beauty and FMCG.

Meesho is backed by big investors like Prosus & Naspers, Facebook, Sequoia Capital, RPS Ventures, Saif Partners and many others. The company shares a common vision of empowering women in India to help become financially independent with Facebook.

And, recently Facebook has invested $ 25 Mn in Meesho, it just shows the power of calibrating a brand and vision that aligns the VC criteria.

The idea for change

The idea is bit different here. They ascertained the scope in India’s rural and semi-urban market. The local kirana stores, the street side sellers play a significant part of India’s unorganized retail market which has largely been ignored by Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm Mall and other major ecommerce players in the country.

The fact of the matter is that the sector which is led by unorganized players holds the country’s retail market worth $700 Bn. Despite people using digital platforms to buy food, fashion and other stuff, people are still accustomed to the mode of conventional buying because that comes up with bonuses such as bargaining and relationship building. 

The bigger question here is to see if there is any room left for such a shopping culture on an ecommerce platform?

Sanjeev Barnwal, co-founder and CTO, said there are two types of Indian consumers: -

First are intent buyers and other are impulsive. He further said that it is not like customers are not buying online but they are buying from these resellers too. 

In the era of Amazon and Flipkart, Meesho offers different e-commerce experiences not only for customers but for resellers too. The platform allows the reseller to shortlist the product according to the availability or demand and share the photographs of the products with their network of customers that includes their family, friends or people they know. They have the flexibility to adjust the prices that they feel is fit for the targeted audience.

The Challenge

Hiring the right talent has always been a challenge for the start-up but due to the rise in market reputation of Meesho, it is now easy to acquire talent. The company believes it is important to convince the candidates about the vision of the company as to share the common objectives .

They look for candidates who have problem-solving as a key skill because it is a crucial part of the culture at Meesho.

Market Strategy: The 10X growth target

Meesho currently has a team of 750 people and over 21K suppliers and 2 Mn resellers, and by the end of 2020 it targets to bring 20 Mn resellers on the platform. The 50 percent of audience come from Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities and the company have its presence in around 1000 cities.      

To expand its market reach by 10X, the company is now looking to attract those people who always wanted to do something but have inadequate resources like home-makers that will allow them to do part time work with injecting capital investment. The company is also looking to experiment with new categories on the supply side.


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