Founded in 2015, Meesho is India's fastest-growing reseller platform. The online marketplace connects small and micro business owners with customers via social media sites like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. Over the past 6 years, it's achieved remarkable growth. This year, it became just the fifth Indian startup in history to join the exclusive Unicorn club after hitting a valuation north of $2 billion following its latest funding round. Find out more as we reveal 20 things you didn't know about Meesho.
1. It was formed in 2015
Meesho was formed in 2015 by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal. They shared a dream of helping entrepreneurs across India develop their micro and small businesses by taking their ambitions online and leveraging new technologies to turn their dreams into reality. They named their business Meesho, which is short for 'My Shop.' In essence, it allows businesses to attract customers, develop a brand identity and sell products online using the power of social media, including Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Since its launch, it's grown phenomenally and now ranks as India's most popular online marketplace for resellers.
2. Its CEO is Vidit Aatrey
After founding Meesho, Vidit Aatrey took on the role of CEO. Like fellow co-founder Sanjeev Barnwal, Aatrey is an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - Delhi graduate. He graduated from the university in 2012 with a degree in electrical engineering. During his time at IIT, he proved himself a talented student, earning the IIT Delhi Director’s Merit Award in 2008, the Game Design Contest at Techfest in 2011, and the Best Team in Annual Inter-College Debate at Miranda House in 2011. He was also privileged with a J.G. Memorial Scholarship. Prior to funding Meesho, he served for two years at ITC Limited as a Supply Chain Manager, and later as a Sales Manager for Tier 1 OEMs/ Telcos across US, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, China, and India at InMobi.
3. It's breaking new ground
Since its inception, Meesho has been winning awards and breaking new ground left, right, and center. In 2016, it was chosen as one of the first three Indian startups to ever be selected by Y Combator to participate in its three-month summer program. It was also one of the first companies to participate in Google Launchpad - the Solve for India program.
4. It's empowering women entrepreneurs
As yourstory.com highlights, one of Meesho's biggest achievements is empowering women in India to run their own home-based businesses and create a new professional identity for themselves. “When we started Meesho, we realized that a large number of women aspire to have a professional identity. But for any business, you need money on day one to start, something which is not easily accessible in India. By solving this problem for tens of thousands of women, we are enabling them to be entrepreneurs, and make a name for themselves,” CEO Aatrey has explained.
5. It's attracted the attention of Facebook
In June 2019, Meesho made headlines when it received investments from Facebook. Google and Twitter had already seen the potential of the county's start-up ecosystem and had either invested in or acquired Indian-based businesses. However, this was the first time Facebook had invested in an Indian company. Although the size of the investment wasn't disclosed, the fresh capital was significant enough for Meesho to expand its business even further. Speaking via vccircle.com, Facebook India vice-president and managing director Ajit Mohan explained that Meesho had caught his eye as a result of its growth in tier-II and tier-III cities as well as the number of women resellers on its platform. “The lens to the investment was fuelling a model that has serious impact and can transform lives,” he said.
6. The COVID pandemic hit it hard
When the Covid pandemic began to ripple across India, millions of entrepreneurs, and by extension, Meesho, were hit hard. Keen to help its resellers as much as possible, Meesho looked at the problems being faced by its community and tried to find a solution. Some of its efforts were ingenious, including its decision to ask sellers to make masks that Meesho then bought, ensuring at least some income for its sellers during the hard times. Yet no matter how sterling its efforts, the effects of the pandemic were still felt. “This year was the toughest the company has faced, and it was even tougher for our women entrepreneurs. In the first few months of the lockdown, we started offering small-ticket loans to them; we also reduced our commission massively on the platform,” Aatrey later said.
7. It bounced back bigger than ever
If Aatrey and Barnwal were concerned that their business would be irreparably damaged by the pandemic, they needn't have worried. As soon as the restrictions were lifted, people began to use the platform to buy and sell like never before. According to the latest figures, its entrepreneurs have experienced a 20-30 uplift in business compared to pre-pandemic levels.
8. It's achieved $515.2 million in funding
At this point in history, it's clear that the founders of Meesho were on to a good thing when they decided to launch Meesho. Although it's always good to have confidence in your own business, it's even better when others show their faith... especially when they show that faith with their checkbooks. Over the past 6 years, Meesho has raised a total of $515.2 million over 9 rounds of funding. Some of the main investors to participate in the funding include Facebook, Prosus Ventures, Shunwei Capital, Venture Highway and Knollwood Investment.
9. It's achieved Unicorn status
As entrpreneur.com writes, Meesho's latest round of funding closed at a mammoth $300 million. The round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Existing investors such as Prosus Ventures, Shunwei Capital, Venture Highway, Knollwood Investment, and Facebook also participated. The round puts the company's valuation at $2.1 billion, making it just the fifth Indian start-up to ever achieve elusive Unicorn status (i.e startups with a valuation of $1 billion or more).
10. It's about to get even bigger
Meesho has already grown at an extraordinary rate, delivering orders to over 100,000 suppliers in over 5000 cities and generating a steady income for its community of entrepreneurs. With the cash injection from its latest round of funding, it's planning to grow even more. “We take pride at the rate of speed and the scale at which Meesho has grown, positively impacting millions of lives, and creating exponential learning along the way," it announced via a statement. "We are focused on expanding our vision — from helping aspiring women entrepreneurs to creating Meesho as a single ecosystem that will enable all small businesses in India to succeed online. In the last one year, we have seen tremendous growth across small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to move their businesses online. And with our new vision we will enable 100 million small businesses to start, succeed and lead their operations online with Meesho as their partner in their journey.”
11. SoftBank is a major investor
The latest round of funding has seen the Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company, SoftBank, jump on board the Meesho bandwagon. Speaking about the company's decision to invest, Sumer Juneja, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, told Tech Crunch that they had been monitoring Meesho's rapid growth over the previous 18 months and had been struck by its huge potential. “We believe Meesho provides an efficient platform for SME suppliers and social resellers to onboard the e-commerce revolution in India and help them provide a personalized experience to consumers,” he confirmed.
12. It simplifies the process of becoming a supplier
One of Meesho's central aims has been to make the process of establishing a business as easy as possible. To become a Meesho supplier, you simply need to download the Meesho app or open the website. Once you select the option "Become a Supplier," you'll be directed to a short form to complete your details. To create a profile, you'll just need a GST Identification Number, PAN Card, and a bank account. Once your account is set up, you can start promoting your business and delivering orders via Meesho straight away. As added value, you'll be allocated a certified account manager who can provide advice on managing and improving your online store and business.
13. You can earn an income with zero investment
Meesho has more than 100,000 products available for resellers to advertise through their accounts and social networks. According to their policies, resellers can begin making a profit straight away without investing a dime. For each sale that a reseller makes, Meesho takes a small commission with the remainder going straight to the reseller. To join the hundreds of thousands of resellers making an income on the platform, you'll simply need to establish a reseller account and begin reselling through Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Support and advice is provided on an ongoing basis, and there's also the opportunity to watch instructional videos through the Hub section of the Meesho website to understand more about the process.
14. It was named one of LinkedIn's top 25 startups
Each year, LinkedIn scours India from top to bottom looking for the most promising startups in every sector to include on its 'LinkedIn Top Startups List for India'. In 2018, Meesho scored high enough in areas such as employment growth, engagement, job interest, and attraction of top talent to make the top 25. Considering India has the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, it was a huge achievement.
15. Its founders have been named to Forbes 30 under 30
One of the most extraordinary things about Meesho's success is just how young its founders are. Both Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal were in their mid-20s when they launched Meesho, something that was celebrated in style in 2018 when they were both voted to Forbes 30 under 30 in the Retail and Ecommerce category, a list of the 30 most promising young entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers in the industry.
16. It's been making acquisitions
Over the past few years, Meesho has started buying up smaller businesses. In September 2019, it acquired Bengaluru-based fintech firm Altiore Capital for Rs 9.2 crore. Just a month later, it confirmed that it would be splashing out Rs 253.6 crore for the Chennai-based wealth management company Wealth Advisors India Pvt. Ltd. It's also bought both Ashburton India Equity Opportunities and PE firm India Alternatives.
17. It's been named one of the best apps for social commerce
Just two years after it launched, Meesho got a nice little publicity boost when Deccan Chronicle listed the company among its Top 5 apps for social commerce in July 2017. The following February, it got another boost when Forbes Asia named the startup to its list of the most promising developing Indian businesses.
18. There's room for improvement
While Meesho may be a big hit with huge segments of the Indian entrepreneur community, there's still some room for improvement. On Glassdoor, former and current employees have given the company an unremarkable 3.6 out of 5. Only 61 percent would recommend the company to a friend, although a healthy 78 percent approve of their CEO, Vidit Aatrey.
19. It's been accused of selling fake goods
In January this year, news emerged that Meesho was facing a police probe after a complainant named Kunwar Vivek Singh alleged that he had received two fake products after ordering from the marketplace. As digitalvarta.in reports, Singh alleged that the goods, which were Rolex and GUCCI-branded, were of such poor quality, it raised doubts about their authenticity. Responding to the complaint, a spokesman for Meesho said: “We have rigorous processes around quality checks and also elaborate training programs for our Suppliers. We take down such products whenever they come to our notice…We (also) remove such (fake) products whenever they come to our notice and also delist Suppliers who are repeat offenders.”
20. It covers over 5000 cities
According to its website, Meesho now covers 5000 cities and counting. As of 2021, it has over 100,000 resellers using the platform, most of whom generate an average income of 15,000 Rubies.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee