Failures made me succeed

Source: The Economic Times

Published on 6th June, 2014

It’s been a busy few months for Myntra founder Mukesh Bansal.

E-commerce star Mukesh Bansal on what it takes to win in the tricky game of start-ups
E-commerce star Mukesh Bansal on what it takes to win in the tricky game of start-ups

The ecommerce venture merged with India’s leading ecommerce site Flipkart recently. Bansal, 39, also ensured his employees received stock options after the merger. ETPanache spoke to Bansal over phone about his decade-and-a-half journey with startups, what early failure taught him and his take on powerful rival Amazon. Excerpts:

Advice on smooth mergers

Set clear expectations. There should be no surprises because they can derail things. In order to maintain your identity, understand why the merger is taking place in the first place. In our situation, close integration was difficult. So, we kept the two firms independent. Lastly, it has to be a win-win for everyone. We made sure that Myntra employees also benefitted with E SOP S etc.

Lessons learnt from past failures

Tons. I worked in four startups, of which two failed — eWanted and Centrata. I learnt a lot from Centrata. It failed despite having the best V Cs (venture capitalists) and a lot of smart people. Many of them were not in touch with the market or did not have conviction for the product they were building. Failure taught me that if you don’t understand your market, it will not work. You cannot keep changing your mind as nothing great happens in six months or nine months.

Lessons from success

The importance of longterm focus, strategy, committing to it and taking everyone along. Building a great culture is also important to ascertain that people have a shared sense of vision.
Tracing the path to Myntra’s success from past experiences

Thanks to my earlier experiences, nothing that went wrong surprised me. I knew how difficult it was to hire people, arrange funds, understand customers and business models. So, I was prepared and that allowed me to keep an even keel during good times and bad. 

Money or a great idea?

It’s always about great ideas as they attract money. But great ideas also need great execution. As an entrepreneur, it is very important to have keen eyes and ears and observe a lot around you. Sounding boards in the business I brainstorm with some of the core team in Myntra — Ashutosh(Lawania, co -founder ) , Prabhakar, the finance head, and few people from our board — L ee Fixel from Tiger Global, Subrata Mitra from Accel, Vani Kola from Kalaari Capital.

Things learnt about India

The biggest learning was about the state of the internet in India and Indian consumer behaviour. O therwise, M yntra is modelled after the typical startups in the Bay Area (US).

How Flipkart stacks up against Amazon

Flipkart has a strong understanding of the Indian consumer. They understand the mobile space much better and have technical expertise. With this acquisition, they have a powerful game in the fashion and lifestyle segment. 

Ways to unwind

I hit the gym everyday at 5.30 am for a one hour workout. I have been doing this the last five years. Reading also de-stresses me. Some of my favourite authors are Ray Kurzweil, M ichael Monroe L ewis and Jared D iamond. That apart, spending time with my kids — nine-year-old daughter and four-year-old son — is a great stress-buster.

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