Myntra going “Great to Greater”

Yesterday marked my last working day @Myntra, the market leader in fashion vertical e-commerce in India (a part of Flipkart, the largest online retailer in India)

This post is about what I learnt being in this start-up to market-leader journey and especially the key moments. I strongly believe, we as human beings are as much worth as what people remember about us when we go to the grave. It is just the relationships we leave behind that form these memories, and nothing else. I may be taking this too philosophical… still, isn’t it true?

Early in 2012, seeing the e-commerce evolution in the country for the second time, I wanted to start on my own in the e-commerce space and I was looking around for partners. It is in that context I met Mukesh Bansal, now the head of the commerce platform at Flipkart. It is the warmth of the person and vision to make great things happen that made me join Myntra in April 2012. I moved in from the world’s largest company into a 3000 sft start-up office. What amazed me was the way the company ran its business. I took a while to settle into the new culture which was very free, empowering, transparent and demanding. Most of our discussions revolved around what was not working well, rather than patting ourselves on what was working well. This was a fundamental shift for me. We were in a business where rules were not defined, and in fact we were defining the rules.

Our first task was to build a great selection for our customers. Whenever I met my friends, relatives or acquaintances , they used to ask, “Which company is this?”, “Who would buy clothing online ?, see it needs touch and feel! ”. We were very convinced on what was possible. We called all our partners to our new office in Bangalore to share the possibilities in e-commerce in the next few years. We were privileged to host the senior leadership from over 100 partners in the fashion industry. After the meeting, though the partners got a good idea on the e-commerce industry and its future in India, they were still not sure whether they were putting their money and brand in the right place. From there on, it only needed actions to demonstrate what we said. Rest as they say, is history, and it is for the world to see. Brands from all over the world now want to partner with Myntra.

Looking back, and reflecting on what did work for Myntra, I can think of a few key call outs,

1-Business is all about people. Get the right people. We have been fine tuning the way we acquire talent and this is an ongoing process.

2 -The only thing that scales is culture. It is also the key strategic advantage which can not be copied. The founders had a very clear vision of building a company that stands on key pillars of values. It is important to make it the bloodstream of the organisation. Easier said than done. The workplace at myntra is a reflection.

3- Focus : As we travel the path, there will be lots of temptations to deviate. While its worth experimenting, good to stay on a single course and do that really well.

4- Experiment: Particularly when we travel the road less travelled, good to experiment, what this needs is a mind of a “scientist” and not worry about “failures”. In fact consider “failures” as a part of the process.

5- Customer Focus: Relentless focus on customer experience. Push the envelop by visualising the “future of …..”.

6- Partnerships: In retail and in any business we are as strong as our partnerships. A strong belief here guided us to nurture with a focus on customer value proposition.

7- Make your next big move when nothing is broken. Defy the logic of fixing things when it is broken.

Having seen an organisation grow more than 30–40x, one important aspect is to tool the organisation with the right capability at the right time. It is always a good practice to resource for future goals, than for what is needed today. With an organisation that is growing exponentially, this is imperative.

It is not very common to have groups of people having disagreements in a room, and still leave the room comfortably. In my view this is a very important cultural trait, fast growing organisations must have and this is one of my key take-aways. Myntra is also a place I have seen a lot of intellectuals, more so intellectually honest.

Moving on to my last day, the team wanted a few minutes of time for a “Thank You”. I went in very casually and was taken aback by the amount of work they did to surprise me. Some of what they gave me,

best certificate ever !!

In closing, I was privileged to be part of this truly amazing journey, which I will remember for a long time. Personally, the learning has been immense. Now I know, to some extent, what it takes to build a great company. While we had walked only a few miles and there are many more miles to go.

In our early days, we used to read books like “Good to Great” as a pre-read for our leadership offsites. We read a lot about the culture at companies like Google, Amazon and always got inspired. It is time for Myntra to start writing a book on its own “Great to Greater”, may these be the few lines in that new book !!