Raising Capital is a Long-term Game: Meesho Co-founder and CTO A day after closing a successful round of funding, Meesho's Founder and CTO, Sanjeev Barnwal shared how interacting with a lot of shopkeepers made them recognize the core problem in the industry

By Bhavya Kaushal

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Bengaluru-based social e-commerce startup, Meesho, has raised US$125 million in Series D funding round led by Naspers with participation from Facebook (with whom it led a US$25 million funding round in June) and existing investors SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway and Former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin who also participated in the round.

The social e-commerce startup has been attracting the investor's eye and has successfully led funding rounds since the last few months.

Founded by IITians Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal in 2015, reports have been rife that the next round of investment in Meesho is supposed to come from Japanese Conglomerate, SoftBank.

The new funds will enable the company to make inroads in areas outside India's major metro regions, by creating more entrepreneurs, and as a result reaching remote customers not serviced by traditional e-commerce marketplaces. The latest investment, Meesho's co-founder and CEO, Vidit Aatrey believes, will strengthen Meesho's aim of growing its community of women entrepreneurs who have dreamt of running their own businesses but lacked the funds and expertise to do so.

Aatrey, who was also featured on Entrepreneur's 35U35 list 2019 always had grand plans for his startup, "Millions of Indians have not been able to start their shop offline because of lack of access to capital. For the first time in India, we have been given the tools to the common individuals to realise their dreams by taking away the need of capital." Keeping up with the same spirit, Meesho has given wings to housewives, students, young professionals and many others to fulfill dreams of entrepreneurship at the micro level and has provided stepping stones to climb the ladder of business.

Stumbling on Social Entrepreneurship

Meesho is an online marketplace that supports micro entrepreneurs. In India, starting a business involves several concerns. Apart from approvals and registration, the biggest block is that of raising capital. The platform endeavours to erase any worry a budding entrepreneur has with respect to capital. The application enables people from all strata to connect with sellers on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

One of the reasons why Meesho is a unique start-up is because of the fact that it is carving a niche among millennials as "social commerce" site. Recently, Meesho's Founder and CTO, Sanjeev Barnwal, shared at Startup Summit of Entrepreneur held at Bangalore, just a day after raising the funds, "We didn't start with social problems. We started with a hyper local fashion marketplace. That didn't work out. But the good thing about that was we got to talk to a lot of shopkeepers who has been leveraging WhatsApp to stay connected to their customers."

And Barnwal feels that start-ups should talk to their potentials customers a lot before anything. After stumbling through various blocks, the founders finally realized the core problem which was "to discover and fulfill the supply because these smaller sellers have no leverage on suppliers." Once they recognized this, they started scaling growth especially after raising Series A and now they are at Series D, with potential of becoming unicorns.

He also said that high valuation and good investors are paramountly important because "it's a long term game."

Other than Meesho, platforms that are spearheading the sector include Shoperts, Shop 101, GlowRoad, Zepo etc. According to reports, the firm values at US$700 million post this funding round and is soon to enter the billion-dollar unicorn club joining the likes of FlipKart and Quickr.

Bhavya Kaushal

Former Features Writer

I am a work-in-progress writer and human being. An English graduate from Delhi University, writing is my passion and currently, I was Entrepreneur India's start-up reporter. I love covering start-ups and weaving their stories into unforgettable tales with the power of ink! 

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