By Gauri Kohli
Hindustan Times, New Delhi.
Entrepreneurship is hard, for men and women alike. You need the fighter gene to succeed, and that requirement, I think, is really gender agnostic, says Suchi Mukherjee, CEO and co-founder, Limeroad.com, a social-commerce platform for women.
“It is possibly harder for women because there are simply more family expectations from them. Having said that, being a parent actually gives you an enormous corpus of learning on dealing with people, for people even at the most senior levels have adult modes and child-like modes. Spotting those modes and learning to deal with them makes one a much stronger leader,” she says.
Having started the portal in 2012, Mukherjee was not a complete newbie when it came to starting her own company as she used her previous work experiences into expanding her start-up. She started her career as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers and was also selected as one of 15 women worldwide who were potential leaders driving change and impact, showcased and celebrated at the World Women’s Forum in Paris, 2010.
The idea for starting her venture struck her because she loves creating and scaling businesses which impact people’s lives deeply using technology.
“That is how my past endeavours were in the UK. The first one was at eBay, where I was a part of the relatively early team building up the UK business, which ultimately went on to become the second largest eBay market in the world. We created a platform where millions of entrepreneurs were able to sell and earn.
Subsequently, as an executive board member at Skype, our product touched hundreds of millions of people’s lives enabling them to connect with each other visually and real time across the world for free. Finally, there was Gumtree, UK’s largest online classifieds business, where I worked as managing director and CEO,” says Mukherjee.
Her venture is a technology heavy social-commerce platform targeted at woman who can have a fun shopping experience digitally. “For instance, our users create scrapbooks which enables them to unleash their creativity. They put together looks by mix-matching various product combinations and share with others,” she adds.
Mukherjee started conceptualizing the venture and planning her return to India following the birth of her second child. This was in 2011, after spending over 16 years in the UK. Her passions lie in being able to use technology to build simple yet powerful consumer experiences.
“I have brought to this venture my years of accumulated learning from eBay UK, Skype and Gumtree, alongside my inherent instinct as a woman who loves discovering great products at affordable prices. It has been a phenomenal journey so far. At the very beginning, finding great people for the team, the combination of skill and real go-getters was hard but we were lucky enough. We have had a lot of memorable moments which can be cherished, which make us feel extremely proud and in turn, motivate us to outdo our levels of performance,” she adds.
Looking back, her second and third rounds of funding have been the most valuable and hard-earned achievements. “It was immensely encouraging for us to have our investors believe in us so strongly. We believe in acquiring customers through engagement. I thought of starting this company while reading a magazine in London. Flipping through the pages, I found a piece of jewelery I really wanted to touch and buy. I realised two things at that point. There was no consumer technology play that made discovery of products easy and entertaining and there was no place where one could access the vast array of products that were being manufactured and shipped out of India, which accounts for 21% of global manufacturing,” says Mukherjee.
She learned the finer nuances of business during her graduation in economics from St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and master’s in finance and economics from the London School of Economics, as a British Chevening Scholar. She also won the Cambridge Commonwealth Scholarship of Cambridge University.
My start-up, my journey in a nutshell
Start-up and objective: Limeroad.com is a technology heavy social-commerce platform targeted at women who can have a fun shopping experience digitally
You are passionate about: Creating and scaling businesses which impact people’s lives deeply using technology
Achievements: Selected as one of the 15 women worldwide as high-potential leaders for driving change and impact, showcased at the World Women’s Forum in Paris, 2010