These men are using ecommerce to give women’s fashion in India a makeover


Fashion, the highest margin category in ecommerce, has seen the birth of numerous startups in the last few years. Here’s a look at five men-led fashion startups that have made themselves a part of women’s lives.

Ananth Narayan, CEO, Myntra and Jabong

Ecommerce in India has changed the way Indian women, especially those who don’t live in the metros, shop. It has brought fashion of all styles and price ranges to their doorstep, something that was unthinkable even seven years ago.

Fashion is the highest margin category in ecommerce, with most online marketplaces reporting that first-time customers often prefer to make fashion or mobile phone purchases. In fact, fashion is a category that has given rise to a bunch of startups in the last few years. Most of them, funded by top investors, are not profitable yet. But some have stood out, made a mark, and continue their winning streak.

Curiously, most fashion startups – while focusing on women – are led by men (some with female co-founders.) YourStory looks at a few that have changed the course of women’s fashion through online retail, with unique business models and strategies.

  1. Ananth Narayanan, CEO, Myntra & Jabong Ananth took charge at Myntra as CEO in October 2015, after years at McKinsey and a short stint at Marico. Less than a year later, Flipkart-owned Myntra acquired Jabong – thereby establishing the Flipkart Group as the winner in fashion e-commerce.
  2. Ananth is media-savvy, excited in his own boyish way about the numbers, and is vocal about AI advancements needed in the fashion space. An engineering post-graduate from the University of Michigan, Ananth has led Myntra’s private labels to profitability. Supported by a fabulous team, he has also led Myntra’s omni-channel strategies as well as successful campaigns like the End of Reason Sale, which gained crores for the company in one day.
  1. Arjun Zacharia, Co-founder and CEO, and Ankit Sabharwal, Co-founder and CPO, WooplrWhen the entire fashion segment comes online, how do you place yourself in a woman's mind? The kind of user-generated content and the community created sets you apart – this was the idea behind Wooplr, which was launched as fashion discovery platform in 2013, and has evolved into an online community of fashion influencers.
  2. Arjun and Ankit are the only two left out of the four original Co-founders. Their board advisors include the Co-founders of InMobi, Naveen Tewari, Abhay Singhal, and Amit Gupta; InMobi CPO Piyush Shah; TaxiForSure Co-founder Raghunandan G; and ex-Puma India CEO Rajiv Mehta.
  3. Sujayath Ali, Co-founder and CEO, and Navaneetha Krishnan, CTO, Voonik

Bangalore-based Voonik made five acquisitions in 2016, managed to control severe cash burn, and recently turned EBIDTA profitable. This five-year-old company, backed by Sequoia Capital and Beenext among others, focuses on the unbranded fashion category. It claims to have annual GMV rate of over $120 million and over 20 million registered users.

But Sujayath has no qualms about him – he rarely seems tensed, is soft spoken, and brings years of wisdom from his experience at Amazon and Visa where he has previously worked. Navaneeth, who has worked with Zoho and Freshworks earlier, was his classmate in college. And together they have changed how the girl-next-door dresses up with affordable yet trendy fashion.

  1. Vedanta Kumar and Saksham Karwal, Co-founders of SeenitAn alumnus of Wharton Business School, Vedant and Saksham have built a website that is the ultimate fashion discovery platform for women. A user can start a “quest” by uploading an image of what they want to buy, and within 30 minutes, Seenit will show you where to buy it from – it redirects you to multiple websites with exact designs or similar ones.
  1. Along with Ankita Sancheti and Upasana Todi, they have made this two-year-old company popular among college students and young professionals. Vedant admires how his female colleagues turn up in office well-groomed and always on time, and how they manage to multi-task throughout the day. He says he owes his dressing “up” to working in a fashion startup for women, with women.
  2. Purplle Co-Founders Rahul Dash, Suyash Katyani, and Manish TanejaCosmetics is the highest repeat category in the world of ecommerce, thanks to women with increasing disposable income and exposure to trends. It gives the best margins – about 90 percent in luxury brands and 75-80 percent in the budget category.
  1. These three Mumbai boys – all IITians - found an opportunity in ecommerce for cosmetics as early as 2012. Today, they generate revenue of more than Rs 15 crore per month, and count Gravitale and Moda among its international exclusive brands. The company’s USP is providing consumers with a personalised shopping experience that takes skin and hair type into account.


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