[Exclusive] “Our main challenge – cultural differences between the two teams” Abhishek Goyal, CEO of FashionAndYou & UrbanTouch

Abhishek Goyal is not new to change. From being a pure techie to becoming an associate with a Venture Capital firm to starting up; he has done it all and done it well. That was the reason for Fashion and You’s recent acquisition of UrbanTouch. One other such acquisition that comes to mind is Apple’s acquisition of NeXT computers for Steve Jobs. Enough said!

In a conversation with YourStory.in, Abhishek Goyal, CEO of Fashion and You and UrbanTouch shares his mantra’s for success, team and people management and his goals and targets for the future.

You were an associate at Accel Partners, prior to which you held various tech roles. How different was this shift from being a techie to a business guy? Did not having an MBA affect the way you did your job at Accel?

It was very different. From being involved with technical stuff, suddenly I had to look at markets, and how it behaved, work with the portfolio companies, and look into the investment opportunities that it presented. Having said that, I don’t think not having an MBA was that big a deal. I was involved in the internet market, where I think you need to understand the technologies well. MBA’s are very useful, but not having it for this job wasn’t that much of a handicap.

So after Accel, what led you to startup with UrbanTouch? How did your tenure at Accel help with starting up and what are some of the key learnings from this venture?

Its not known to a lot of people, but I had a product startup before. Furthermore, I was always an internet enthusiast and I recognized its potential from a very early stage. Accel was very supportive of my decision to startup. They helped me with the business model and fund raising.

As far as experience is concerned, I think for the success of a startup, three things about a team are very important

  • Firstly, it is important to have a top quality team. You really need a team that is the best at what it does
  • Secondly, it is important that the team is a culture fit. Different cultures within the team is something that can get in the way of the efficient working of a team
  • Thirdly, the outfit at a startup should be entrepreneurial

UrbanTouch is now 225 people and I think we have followed these things very well. This is one of the main reasons for our success.

After this, UrbanTouch was acquired by Fashion and You. What was the reason behind it?

Well, there were mainly two reasons behind the acquisition. Firstly, Fashion and You wanted to get into the cataloging space and we wanted to get into the flash deals space. Secondly, Pearl Uppal had just quit from the post of CEO, and they were looking for a business leader to fill the spot.

We thought it through and this deal made a lot of sense to us. So thats what led to the acquisition.

It was earlier in the news that your 200 plus people from UrbanTouch are now a part of Fashion and You followed by a sort of a layoff at Fashion and You. What were some of the challenges that you faced with this regard and how have you overcome it?

One of the main challenges was addressing the cultural differences of the two teams. The two teams did things very differently and it was very important that the two teams accept each other.

So we overcame this by doing a lot of cross company projects and did a bit of rationalization in terms of people that didn’t fit in. The lay off that you referred to was really nothing compared to the size of the company and I feel it was necessary so as to have a more cohesive team.
This has worked for us and now we have a good team composition and now we’re looking to push the business end of things

So has the UrbanTouch business vertical merged with Fashion and You or do they exist as two separate entities?

UrbanTouch and Fashion and You is one team but the websites are individual entities and serve different customer touch points.

What are some of the main things that you’re focussing on at Fashion and You and why?

Well, we’re looking to improve on our customer satisfaction and improving our selection for women.Customer satisfaction is for obvious reasons, but in terms of women, we believe that it is a market that hasn’t been capitalized. Most of our competitors, such as Myntra and Jabong have a majority of male customers and hence have a more comprehensive male oriented assortment.

For Fashion and You, more than 75% of our customer base are women and what we’ve found is that the penetration of internet to the women of India is not much. But it is very well known that women in India do the majority of spending. The penetration is increasing and as this grows, I want Fashion and You to be poised to capitalize on this growth.

What are the metrics that you measure customer satisfaction on?

We have a qualitative and a quantitative approach to customer satisfaction. For the quantitative approach, we look at the number of complaints per order. This number should go down. People usually won’t take the time to write to you if they’re happy with what they’ve got. Also, another metric is the amount of repeat customers that we get. This number has to go up.

For the qualitative approach, we read the content of the complaints and reviews to get an understanding of where we’re falling short.

What is your view on tier 2 and tier 3 cities taking to E-commerce?

I think its very encouraging. 45% of our sales is from tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The reason for this is that we’re solving an access problem for these people. You won’t find the big brands and articles in the local stores in their malls and furthermore, they can get these things at a cheaper price. This percentage will only increase over time.

As a parting note, what are some personal goals that you have set for yourself at Fashion and You? How long do you want to continue being the CEO of Fashion and You?

At UrbanTouch, I think it is safe to say that we were a very company centric team. If I can carry this forward to a larger organization like Fashion and You, I will be satisfied. Also, we want to create leaders from the current team who will go on and set up large industries for themselves. If we can do that, I will be very satisfied.

As far as how long I want to do this is concerned, I think will continue as long as I think I’m the right captain for this ship.

One striking characteristic about Abhishek Goyal was his understatedness. He was soft spoken, which is not an attribute that is common in CEOs. When asked questions regarding his craft, his answers were concise and precise, which again, speaks volumes of his state of mind. I believe, in Abhishek Goyal’s leadership skills lies Fashion and You’s greatest strength.


Raghu Mohan

Raghu Mohan

Raghu is an electronics engineer from Anna University who has a keen interest in mobility and consumer technology.He predominantly works on stories for tech entrepreneurs and startups. He is also an active member of the Bangalore Android User Group, a regular speaker at BarCamp Bangalore and is part of many other technology communities. You can follow him on Twitter @Raghum200