The 42-year old, Suchi Mukherjee is presently the proud founder of LimeRoad.com – a portal that targets the women audience, is a fun and exciting way to discover, share and shop lifestyle products!
A women of substance that Suchi is, always envisioned of building and growing businesses that are focused on simple yet powerful consumer products, and she has successfully brought this dream to life not only in the past but most recently at LimeRoad as well.
She could see that online product discovery was a grave problem amongst many Indian women and wanted to do something about it. With LimeRoad, she not only fulfils her dream of creating the most extensive delightful discovery platform for lifestyle products, but also solves a pain-point for many.
Personally, she has completed her Bachelors in Arts with specialization in Economics and Maths from the University of Cambridge and also holds a Masters Degree in Finance & Economics from the London School of Economics.
Being a married woman with two children, Suchi not only has managed to achieve what she wanted to, but has also become an inspiration for thousands of young women who wish to pursue their dreams and work for change.
Life as an employee…
Suchi began her career soon after she completed her Masters!
The first company she chose to begin her journey with was Lehman Brothers Inc in July 1998, as their new Senior Associate for Corporate Finance. She continued working for them for more than 5 years and focused on sectors including Telecoms Media Technology and Financial Institutions.
After she gained the desired knowledge, she decided to move elsewhere, to grab onto the opportunities that were yet to be opened and in June 2003, she joined “Virgin Media” as a Director for Change & Business Development. She was also the member of their Consumer Division Management Team.
Suchi worked with them for almost 2 years and then took one of the wisest decisions of her life; She quit Virgin Media and joined “eBay”!
This jump not only helped her grow in terms of position but also gave her immense & first-hand knowledge of the functioning’s of business.
She joined the company first as the Head of Business Seller Programs & CS in the year 2006 and was the member of the UK Operating Management Team as well. With the way she performed, she was quickly promoted within a year, as the Director and Member of Executive Management Team for “Skype”, which back then was a part of eBay Inc.
Her responsibilities now also included planning, product / UI design, payments of the product a.k.a. Skype and also looking after its marketing including brand, channels incl. PR and CS. This was altogether a different learning curve for Suchi. Being a part of the executive management team; here is where she actually learned the powerful leadership development skills. She got the priceless opportunity to see the transition of a start-up from founder–led and with 3 CEO changes in just 2 years. Not to forget the drastic upgradation of the product.
If this was fascinating, then what came next would sweep you off your feet!
After giving almost two years to Skype; she once again got the opportunity to get promoted as the new Managing Director for “Gumtree,” which again was a part of eBay Inc.
I guess universe was covertly training her to start something great of her own! Because Gumtree being a start-up; Suchi had again got the opportunity to build and grow a company but this time, with her own hands and leadership skills.
Now Gumtree required a transformational leadership, and in her whole stint with them, she spent most of the time scaling the team capabilities, product, sales, marketing and CS functions, and at the same time Suchi also re-structured the financials towards core revenue streams.
And with 13-million users, she went on to grow it to UK’s largest horizontal classifieds business in just two years. She lifted the company from a No. 3 position to a market leading position in jobs and consumer-to-consumer car sales, and also grew the visits by 35% YOY.
Once that was done, she decided to move on and do something of her own!
Life as an entrepreneur…
Now although she was working for one of the most reputed organizations and was literally living the dream of many, but she still felt that she wasn’t justifying her ambitions.
She desperately wanted to do something of her own, something which could fill the gap in the society, something that would fulfil the needs of many and to so – she built LimeRoad.com!
To give you a fair idea; LimeRoad is simply a social-commerce platform that targets the woman audience of today and makes it fun and exciting to discover, share and shop from their vast list of products.
The site provides a range of some of the most innovative, unique and interesting lifestyle products across categories like apparel, accessories, home and non-perishable food collected from carefully selected retailers.
Interestingly, it has a unique concept of 100% user generated content which is created by its scrapbooking community and is exclusive to LimeRoad. That means all the products that you see on the site are manufactured by the users of the site itself called the – scrapbooking community.
This innovative scrapbook application gives people the leverage to choose from their range of products, create a unique look, share it with their friends and can also sell their curated looks & earn out of it. So basically on LimeRoad anyone & everyone is a stylist.
Surprisingly, the idea of LimeRoad.com was born out of a moment of utter frustration – she was reading a glossy magazine in London and found a piece of jewellery that she liked, and wanted to buy it, but because it was from some small store in Mumbai, it obviously wouldn’t have reached to her anytime soon.
That is when she realised two very important things:
- There was no consumer technology that made the discovery of lovely accessories and products easy and entertaining. You know, just like reading a magazine, and flipping pages or photos in an album.
- And most importantly, there was no platform from which one could access the list’s of products that were manufactured and shipped out of India, one of the world’s largest manufacturing hubs. Basically, India remained disconnected from the virtual world.
That is when the idea started to build up in her head!
She wanted to build a platform where one could find gorgeous, affordable lifestyle products in an extremely easy to discover interface. She being a woman, knew that women love the different and out-of-the-box stuff, and that product discovery in lifestyle was indeed a very hard problem to solve.
What made her even more confident was that India back then accounted for more than 21% manufacturing of lifestyle products of world (that’s 21% of a nearly $1 trillion industry). And she wanted to capitalize on this untapped opportunity. Her aim was to simply bring all the vendors who produce high quality affordable products under one roof, via an easy to use interface to enable the discovery.
Once she was clear in the head with the idea; she flew down to India!
Returning back to her home-ground; Suchi first met her friend Ankush Mehra, Head of Supply Chain – Reliance Hypermarkets, to understand the difficulties of setting up a business in India and to rope him in as his first co-founder.
Next was her meeting with Prashant Mallik – Ex-Facebook, Microsoft & Siemens. He had flown down to India after 17 years, again with a dream to build something of his own. And obviously he joined the team as their techie co-founder.
They also roped-in a few other people like: Ahti Heinla as their Technical Advisor (past: Founding Architect of Skype) & Michael V Swaaij as their Advisor (past: ex-Chairman of Skype)
And with that they hit it off! LimeRoad went live in October 2012!
Now just like every start-up; LimeRoad too faced their share of challenges, during their initial stages. Even though these weren’t that major, but when coming from a totally different business atmosphere, these can really get into one’s head.
At the very beginning, finding the right people to build a solid team which was a combination of skill and can-do attitude was one of the biggest challenges for LimeRoad. Although this problem did get solved eventually, but it does tend to popup every now and then!
Another thing that pestered them a lot was, getting the right kind of infrastructure with high- speed & reliable internet.
Other than that; complex bank process, getting the company registered with the RoC (Registrar of Companies) process, and other legal formalities were also something that turned out to be very different from what they had seen.
Anyways, some of these got sorted then and there, while some are still going on; but they decided to move on, because as they say “Life goes on!”
III. Growth & Development
Moving ahead; their revenue model was pretty much simple: they made money when vendors sell i.e. commission revenue (% of sales). Hence, they started off by focusing on building an amazing product.
They also went out of their comfort zone to build strong partnerships with a really rich selection of brands and with categories like apparel, accessories, home and food, LimeRoad was being presented to be a woman’s “me time”, but online.
They launched with many brands, out of which nearly half were exclusively available with them. These included national and international mega brands in their flagship form, Home-grown brands by exporters of world-class-products, etc. such as 5elements, Vedas, Fuchsia, Anuva, Desi Weaves, Kshitij, Allen Solly, Forever 16, Trendz, and many more.
And since then; the platform has grown from — 250,000+ units of unique user generated visual content per month, and 600+ vendors; to posting of 200,000+ unique products and looks per month by the users, and becoming India’s leading discovery platform for lifestyle products with 18 million products.
Additionally, they recently rolled out their new Android app and in no time have got 100,000+ downloads with users returning 7 times/ month, and mobile now accounts for 60% of users and revenues as well. Because of such developments, their revenues have also doubled in the last 4 months with zero marketing strategies.
With a strong team of 200+ IIT-techies to NIFT-design geeks, LimeRoad stands tall with 1.5 million scrapbooks posted by users so far, and 100,000 scrapbooks made per day. Their Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) has also grown by a massive 600% since their launch.
The company now aims to reach out to 400m+ smartphones by around in 2016, out of which 30-50% belonging to women.
Talking about funding; the company has raised a total of whopping $50 Million from Tiger Global, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Matrix Partners India and a few others. Their most recent funding includes the series C round of $30 Million, before which they had raised $15 Million and $5 Million, in series B & series A respectively.
- Voted 1 of 15 ‘Rising Talent – global leaders under 40′ at World Women’s Forum Global Women’s Forum