The Man Who Pioneered Social Commerce We as a platform want to enable 100 million small businesses to succeed online: CEO and Co-founder, Meesho

By Punita Sabharwal

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Meesho is a small business e-commerce platform that enables small businesses and individuals to start off their online stores. The founders started off with a very broad vision in 2016 wherein they wanted to bring all small businesses online but they didn't know where to start. During their initial two years of starting Meesho, they were doing a lot of experiments. Vidit and Sanjeev started by trying to get the local commerce for small businesses, then they pivoted to giving a "Shopify" kind of mobile shop that people would use to sell and this was targeted at existing small businesses. While doing that they discovered a very big opportunity which is one of the biggest small business formats in India especially in Women's apparel and lifestyle space, which is women running boutiques at home. Meesho came from "Meri Shop" put together as they wanted to give a shop of their own to each and every small business. A lot of Meesho's users are people who are coming online to buy for the first time. They wanted the product to be intuitive, very simple and always made sure to localize all the possible languages that people speak in India. Meesho now has localized supply, localized content, and a simplified app which has made it very easy for people to come online. The co-founders have done it by solving this with a very technology-first mindset.

Meesho has been unit economics positive for most of its journey and has scaled rapidly despite having less capital. Aligning the company's employees to the vision of the co-founders and the kind of people the company is hiring is crucial to their DNA.

Vidit on how he has changed as an entrepreneur says, "In the beginning, as a founder, a lot of your role is to get product-market fit for the company so I used to be a lot more hands-on and doing a lot of daily stuff like building products. Over time as we've become larger and larger, my focus has shifted to building the right team, growing the right culture within the organization, making sure everyone is adopting that, setting the right direction and vision so that people are aligned with what we are doing. I think that's how I'm spending my time today which is very different from what I was doing 4 years ago and that is quite normal as the company scales so I have changed my skills."

2020 has been a torrid time for the markets. However, for the D2C brands, it has been a blessing in disguise. Meesho has grown substantially in the last year as they gained about 10x in terms of Women Entrepreneurs on their platform and 6x in terms of orders on the platform. People were more willing to come and try out the online channel as well as the suppliers' willingness to adopt the online system has benefitted them. The constraints of traditional commerce somewhat gave Meesho a boost as the reach of the platform increased massively. Suppliers and entrepreneurs that work with Meesho found this period profitable as the sales were high even though the whole country was on lockdown. The company also gave out microloans in times of peril during the pandemic as the entire nation was on lockdown which meant the entrepreneurs could not sell the products and make money.

Vidit on future plans of Meesho says," We as a platform want to enable 100 million small businesses to succeed online. Our goal is to enable these small businesses to find it very easy to come online and then find the right tools and policies so that they become successful. That is our future plan, category by category, geography by geography we want all kinds of small businesses to come online, become successful and we want to be the platform that enables that."

Punita Sabharwal

Entrepreneur Staff

Deputy Editor, Entrepreneur India Magazine

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