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Entrepreneur

Ishita Swarup, Founder & CEO, 99labels

4th Jul 2010
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“99 labels to shop for”

99 Labels Logo
Ishita Swarup is an Economics Graduate from Delhi University and an MBA from IMT. She was soon picked up by Cadburys in brand management gaining a start that would make many turn green with envy. But three years later her entrepreneurial spirit rose to make her a part of the founding team of Orion Dialog, a pioneer in the ITES sector in India and one of the first to focus solely on the Indian market.

After leading the company to great heights she was bought out by to Aegis BPO in 2006. Stints with various leadership positions were fine but the young entrepreneur wanted to create something big again. Thus 99labels.com was born and Ishita Swarup has entered the fray once more.

99labels is a pioneering innovative concept introduced to India for the first time. Partnering national and international brands, 99labels presents event based online sales for a limited time period giving members an opportunity to buy fashion-wear, accessories, lifestyle products, sportswear and gear, electronics and even furniture at members-only prices that are up to 70% off label prices. Ishita has been working towards creating 99labels since March 2009.

Yourstory learnt more about Ishita and 99labels in a stirring conversation.

Why does entrepreneurship appeal to you?

I always wanted to do something of my own from a very young age, rather get into the cog in the wheel syndrome, after my mba I joined Cadburys, the work was great but my belief of doing my own thing got even more strong.

Please tell us about your first tryst with entrepreneurship?

99 Labels Logo
During early 1994-95 time domestic BPO as a concept was new in India and along with my friend Tina I started an online phone marketing firm handling to begin with Citibank account, soon we became one of the first full-fledged domestic BPO handling lots of clients across India.

It was good fun, in due course we manage to grow to over 2000 employees. I enjoyed the thrill of starting up and growing it to such a size... in fact the journey was full of mistakes as we were young, but every mistake made us wiser. With no family business background I had to learn everything on my own. It was motivating and an enriching experience. Once the business grew and became well established somehow it stopped challenging me both professionally and personally. Essar bought us around 2004. I took a sabbatical for some time and started thinking about what next.

How do you plan to stay ahead of the competition?

We know in time there will be many players as the space has opportunity for many players to come and thrive but what sets us apart is our servicing and consumer driven approach, we think like a prospective consumer and keep coming up with offers that will appeal to today’s consumers.

Please tell us more about the human dynamics behind 99 labels.

99 labels has two other founding partners - Anchal Jain and Ankur Prakash. We all bring different set of skills which makes the partnership effective and ads to the growth of the venture. I had a special interest in e commerce and a penchant to do something different which led to the birth of 99Lables.

I feel any partnership will work if you have your fundamentals correct, roles defined and most importantly everything documented from day one. In our country we rely a lot on verbal agreements and leave a lot for the future. Also for a partnership to work trust is the key which comes over time. I have been lucky that my partners are also friends whom I have known for long time and we have clearly defined our roles and scope of work.

What is the number one source of motivation for you to keep working?

Personally challenging myself, seeing a venture take shape from idea to reality and then taking it to a growth level is something that motivates me.

The site has received a phenomenal response with around with over 25 sales events over the last four months and new members joining daily from all across the country and overseas as well. The site has already had sales of a number of international and Indian brands that include Ritu Kumar, Satya Paul, Ashish Soni, Payal Jain, Rocky S, Van Heusen and Louis Phillipe, Guess, Espirt watches, and Rina Dhaka among others.

It is not long before 99labels becomes a successful venture to be emulated and imitated. Yourstory wishes Ishita, Anchal Jain and Anup Prakash entrepreneurial success and luck with all that they pursue.

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