Entrepreneur Watch – Personalized Gifting

I said I had a fun interview coming up and here it is! In the previous instalments of the Entrepreneur Watch series, we met an off-beat travel firm and a mid-sized company in the business of editing and related solutions, catering mainly to the East Asian market. This time, we have a relatively new launch, that promises to spice up the gifting market with its creative, personalised solutions. Most people like to give and receive gifts, the trouble being that we often end up scratching our heads as to how our gifts could possibly stand out, among the hoards of things available off supermarket racks. That is where Myntra comes in. Here is my chat with Mukesh Bansal, a co-founder of the company, where he talks about the genesis of Myntra, why competition is good, and what people want from gifting, among other things.

Let’s begin with the idea for Myntra. Why customized design? Where do you think it fits into the market for gifting?

People want to use or gift personalized items, something that reflects your personality. Or – even apart from gifting, use things that reflect who they are, for example, if you support a cause and would like to express that. The idea then is to put the decision making in the hands of the people. Let them design, decide. This basically is the idea of Myntra. Gifts are about memories and they are personal. We want to provide a platform for personalization and we also want to provide a service of printing and delivering, because one without the other is incomplete.

Who are the heads behind Myntra? What skills/background do they bring?

There are 5 heads, some work, some don’t! So we have a good backup strategy in place!!
But seriously, we have a great team of passionate people who have worked in big companies before and have come together to build something. There is a great commonality of goals and purpose. All of us have degrees from some big name colleges but what we bank on is not the name but the drive and the energy to build Myntra. There are 3 core areas to our business where we put our heads together, in the product development, in our operations and in our marketing and sales.
I have 10 years of experience working in various development and marketing roles in 4 different early stage start-ups. Vineet has architected multiple systems in his career. Ashutosh has managed various teams for software development.

Did you face any troubles starting up?

You know what they say about having a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail. You look for trouble, you will find trouble. Sure there are issues that we have had to face and we will have to face. But what we have managed to do reasonably well so far is focus on execution and this is our number one priority. So every “trouble” is basically a test of our execution capability and we hope we will be able to manage most of these risks.
It was self funded by one of the founders so funding hasn’t been any issue. If there is any issue, it would be to execute faster than our resources allow at the moment. We see a big opportunity in front of us and we just can’t go fast enough!!

How big is Myntra now?

We launched in the end of May and we are still in Beta. Our registered user base has grown 100% month-on-month and our orders are up 50% month-on-month. We have also handled a few big corporate orders so far.

What is the biggest challenge you face now? How do you plan to address it?

Our biggest challenge is to get our customers to love us and get us more customers. We want to delight our site visitors and customers; the only way we can do this by exceeding their expectations over and over again, and our plan will be focused on providing the best value to our customers.

Some critics may say that with the number of gifting options available at malls and boutiques , your service isn’t really unique. What exactly do you think is the edge you have? What is your toughest competition?

The critics are right! There are a plethora of options and it is actually a very good thing. This shows that people want options and every option is unique like everything else! When you analyze gifting, what is it that people want? People want options, convenience in finding the gift, and most of all, something that is personal. We provide all that in 12 letters and 2 dots – http://www.myntra.com.
Our edge is in being able to provide all that people are looking for online. And our toughest competition is every creative item that is available in places not named Myntra.
Our biggest differentiator is a vibrant community of designers that are actively and continuously publishing designs at our site so that buyers can always find most current, trendy and relevant designs for their gifting needs.

Its interesting that not only are you offering customized products, but also a space for designers who want to sell through your site. Why? What was the rationale behind that?

That is a very good question. We are living in the world of user generated content on the web. But we know that the folks that make money out of this content are the aggregators not the creators. Our content creators are very creative, talented people. We wanted to give them a place where they could put their designs up for sale and get paid. And we now know, thanks to the Long Tail* thingy, that it is not only the hit designs that matter. Even if one person likes a design and buys it, it is good business for us.

On-time delivery is a critical issue for many Indian online services today. How are you tackling that?

Yes, it a very important issue. We have established a partnership arrangement with DTDC, one of the leading logistics providers for all our shipping needs. So we have been able to get a high level of reliability through this partnership. We are constantly improving our order fulfillment process and this has helped us meet our delivery timelines.

What next? How do you plan to grow?

Our growth plan is about scaling up, in our marketing efforts and in our operations capabilities. We will invest heavily in technology that will put us at a new level with respect to product quality. We will be adding a couple of new products every quarter and our design catalog will continue to grow as well. So we will be offering customers more choices.

Thats how the third instalment of the Entrepreneur Watch ends. If you do have any interesting firms or ideas you’d like featured here, drop me a note at aputhebird@yahoo.com

* For more info on Long Tail Theory

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7 Comments

  1. You know, Myntra looks a lot like http://www.threadless.com (threadless), especially with their core ideas when it comes to users submitting their own designs. Interesting concept, nevertheless.

  2. except that on threadless the focus seems to be mainly clothing?

  3. True. I was merely commenting on the similarities between the user submitting the design aspect. 🙂

  4. ah yes. i think its a very good idea to involve users…

  5. we just had our first contest for designers, we called it the “public ka picasso” contest! we ran it from aug 1 to aug 31 and we received an incredible number of quality designs and we will be announcing the results shortly…we will also update our blog with more information on the winning designs/designers and our future plans for contests.

  6. hey thank you for dropping in! sounds like a nice idea, though eventually, maybe you need some more noise….all the best!

  7. Hi! I dont think Myntra is doing anything that is unique. Even http://www.pringoo.com is doing the same stuff and their website looks much better than myntra and have a larger product portfolio.


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