“Entrepreneurship is all about dreaming. Entrepreneurs are born dreamers. You are trying to create something that is non-existent. When you are building something, you only do it because you dream about it,” says Ashish Shah, Co-founder and COO of India’s largest online furniture and home products marketplace, Pepperfry.
Pepperfry is one such dream that he and Ambareesh Murthy built from the ground up in 2012. “Before us, there was no furniture business that was trying to sell products from tens of thousands of suppliers across the country,” says Ashish, adding that he knew from a young age itself that he wanted to build a large company. He attributes this desire to create something from scratch and then working hard to make it big, to his upbringing in a modest, middle-class family.
“When you build your own company, you end up making a lot of money, having a social impact or being responsible for the livelihood of many people. From the get-go, I was very clear that I wanted to do something that would make a great impact on the overall scheme of things in the country. Today, Pepperfry is a large business. We work with around 10,000 merchants across the country. Most of our merchants are not brands, but small and medium enterprises, and even housewives who are selling their DIY products using our platform. Directly or indirectly, we are responsible for the livelihood of close to 10,000 merchants, who sell on Pepperfry, and their families. So helping them make their dreams come true motivates me a lot,” he says.
Today, not only is Pepperfry India’s largest online furniture retailer, it’s also India’s largest B2C supply chain company. The latter business was not part of their original plan. “We faced several challenges, starting from raising money for the company, to hiring the right people, and problems around the supply chain. When we started up, we did not think that the furniture business would require a completely different way of looking at the supply chain. But we realised this very early on and from 2013 onwards, we built our own supply chain.”
Be audacious, dream no-holds barred
While thinking on their feet and evolving quickly based on the market’s needs is one of their key success drivers, Ashish says another mantra that they used to deal with challenges was to surround themselves with people who believed in them. “We were fortunate to have people who stood by us and believed in our vision. Be with the right partners, and the right people who will be with you in difficult times. That is what makes a company really strong,” he advises.
He stresses on the importance of creating a legacy, which will stay on forever. “While Pepperfry is big today, I did not know it would be big at the time we started it. My dream was to build a large company, and something that could be reckoned with. While we still have some distance to cover, I think we are on the right path.”
When asked whether it was necessary to have big-ticket dreams in order to succeed in life, Ashish opines, “I think dreaming big is the starting point to making it big. This is something that I even tell my son, who is now in the 11th grade. When you are in school, if there are 100 people in your class 90 people do not dream at all. They do not want to make it big. I think what differentiates an entrepreneur or a successful businessman from the rest is this ability to dream big, and also have a competitive spirit that will make things happen.”
This season, dreams do come true
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