Mr. Mukesh Bansal, Founder/C.E.O., Myntra Designs Pvt. Ltd.

For the last three years a single Indian company Myntra Designs Pvt. Ltd has been surging through the ranks of the product personalization arena. Their stellar rise has been driven by Mukesh Bansal the entrepreneur behind Myntra Designs, which is India’ largest personalization brand. Mukesh spoke of his entrepreneurial dreams and experiences while also elucidating on how Myntra.com has managed such phenomenal progress in so short a period of time.

“Myntra is India’s largest on demand personalization brand for products, gifts and cool merchandise. Myntra enables individuals and corporates to create their own products by adding content of their choice. Currently Myntra offers personalized products across 33 product categories and has a Designer Community with over 3500 designers.”

“A first to Myntra’s credit is powering the Yuvraj Singh Brand Store which is India’s first Online Celebrity Merchandise store. Myntra also has India’s largest collection of Corporate Gifting & Promotional Products catalogues catering to the Corporate & Institutional clients. Another Myntra innovation is designing and setting up exclusive Brand Shops for large corporates like Tech Mahindra, ING Vysya etc. Myntra has been funded by top tier Venture Capital funds like NEA, IDG & Accel.” Says Mukesh

Their reach and popularity are a clue to how attractive their concept is to the consumer. Mukesh stated some facts and figures that point to their appeal saying “Myntra ships products to over 900 locations across 40 countries worldwide. In addition, Myntra has provided corporate gifting & promotional products to over 300 companies in India. Myntra’s website – Myntra.com – is the top personalized products website in India and is ranked in the top 1000 websites in the country.”

They rank among the best at what they do and their strength has been that they chose to be flexible and adaptive in every sphere. Mukesh explains how that works for them saying “Myntra is differentiated from other personalization players in virtually every aspect.”

“Brand – India’s first and largest personalized products brand. The first brand in India to introduce the concept of personalization. The most recognizable brand vis-a-vis competition due to some sustained media & PR initiatives. The most visited website in the personalization space in India. Also among the Top 1000 websites in India as per Alexa rankings.”

“Product – A complete range of consumer & gifting products that cater to virtually every occasion or gifting needs. Has the widest range of products vis-a-vis competition with over 33 product categories. The first to launch various product categories like personalized IPL & Team India Cricket Jerseys, Personalized premium branded pens.”

“Technology – The first to leverage user generated content through an innovative concept called “Designer Community” wherein designers can monetize their graphics & designs by uploading them on the Myntra website which is in turn used by buyers to personalize their products.  Among the earliest to start an online affiliate program through which users of partner sites could use their content on those sites to personalize products of their choice on Myntra.com.”

“Customer Service – Offers exceptional customer experience in this category leveraging dedicated Client Servicing team, multiple payment methods, money-back guarantee, tie-up with top notch courier providers and investment in latest personalization technology.”

“Business Model: Myntra operates on an almost zero-inventory model with a focus on supply chain automation and fulfillment. The company has partnerships with several suppliers, who fall under two categories – raw material suppliers who supply the products and personalization technology suppliers who execute the personalization on the products.”

“While Myntra has the personalization technology for many of its products in house, for some of the more complex personalization technology it partners with external partners. With the cost of the personalization technology coming down, the customer ends up paying only a 10-20% premium for personalization. Our business model ensures that for most of the personalized products we offer, there is no minimum quantity required. Hence we accept orders even for a single unit quantity.”

The road to success does not end there for Mukesh and he plans for bigger and better things in the days to come. He states his plans of expansion saying “We are planning on aggressive growth and wish to reach the $5 million mark in revenues in the next couple of years. We also plan on expanding our employee base to about 150 from the existing 85 in the next couple of years.”

“We are also concentrating on the B2C business aspect by foraying into the ‘offline’ retail space as we believe there exists a large untapped market for personalized products which is currently not being serviced by traditional retail. We already have close to 30 offline retail touch points and are in talks with prominent retail chains and independent stores to take this number to 150 by March 2010.”

Mukesh undoubtedly has considerable acumen when it comes to entrepreneurship and attributes it to his experiences in Silicon Valley. He says “I’ve always been passionate about starting a venture of my own and chanced upon the ‘personalization’ opportunity when I was working in the U.S. In my eight year stint in the U.S., I worked for four different start-ups in Silicon Valley and learned the various aspects of entrepreneurship. Two of these four companies did very well and the remaining two failed which gave me a wide exposure to the different challenges involved in building a new business. After working in the U.S., I came back to India to form my own firm and founded Myntra.”

Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing too as Mukesh came to learn. He says “The biggest challenge we have faced is prioritizing among a number of possibilities. At times we have tended to do too many things simultaneously which diluted our overall effort. We have been learning to stay more focused on key priorities rather than get distracted by every opportunity that comes our way.”

Mukesh started Myntra with Rs. 30 lakhs of personal investment in his idea. The initial going was tough for them but as soon as their concept caught on there was no dearth of capital or investors. “We were in the bootstrapping mode for the first 9 months of the business before we raised our first round of funding from an early stage fund called Erasmic and a few other angel investors.” recalls Mukesh.

Myntra has validated Mukesh’s faith and certainly must have made his investors exceedingly pleased. Their numbers are very promising and are a feather in their cap. He says “We crossed the $1 million annual revenue run rate in December 08 and are growing at a very healthy rate.”

However he is most proud of the fact that his core team will stand by him in any storm. He says with pride “We have built a great team which is committed, passionate and believes that they can build a very large and meaningful business here.”

Mukesh has also presented the Myntra story during Proto.in which is a premier entrepreneurship and startup event. His love for entrepreneurship has grown unabated and he credits it to “The excitement of creating something new everyday, seeing Myntra grow into a million $ company in a short span of 3 years are just a few things that keep me on the edge.”

Mukesh has many a lesson that would benefit the amateur entrepreneur but focuses on the most important saying “My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to realize that entrepreneurship is also a career with a 10 to 15 year horizon at least. The failure rate is high, so you need to be able to adapt and be prepared for the long haul.”

“The most important thing is to have a core team that believes in the vision. Otherwise, the journey becomes lonely and painful. The chemistry between the team members should work. There were 5 members in our initial team and they are still there. Our total employee strength is 70 now. Also, clarity about the business model is important. Some entrepreneurs get excited about the technology, but it is important to ensure that the business model works, else the funding will not come and it becomes difficult to grow.”

Mukesh has many great accomplishments to make on his entrepreneurial journey and we at Yourstory are honored to have gained a glimpse at the man behind Myntra. We wish him success and luck with his dreams.