When Shaileshkumar Jain and Anup Nair decided to head out on their own in April 2011 after chucking their safe developer jobs in US, one thing they were sure of was that they did not want to build a social network kind of model where in you bring users first and revenue model is figured out later. They wanted to start something which allowed them to do everything – right from ideation to execution and most importantly, have cash flows from day one.
Given that philosophy and the fact that they both were techies themselves, both believed the ecommerce story to their hearts. The duo had no doubts about online shopping or the fact that mobile shopping is going to be even bigger than what it is today. So, while in 2010-11, many retailers had doubts about the ecommerce saga, Anup and Shailesh decided to go full swing and opened Mirraw – an ecommerce platform for ethnic jewellery. Says Anup,
“The social network kind of thing was hot in the startup world during that time. Users first, money later – but we were sure we did not want to do that. We wanted to figure out a business model that brings money from day one, does not depend on a network effect or of anything of larger scale playing, and should have a potential to scale.”
E For Etsy, E For Ethnic
The platform drew inspiration from US-based Etsy.com – a portal for handmade goods. The duo decided to get unique designs online and picked one category – imitation jewellery. Adds Anup, “We knew a lot of horizontal players existed but there were no vertical players in this space. To beat a horizontal player or play in the same race, you would have to win a vertical. At that point in time, anyone who thought of Mirraw, we wanted it to be synonymous with jewellery.”
Later on, of course, Mirraw’s offerings expanded to ethnic wear, such as saris and salwar kameez, as a natural extension of categories for its customers and that’s when the whole ethnic title came into picture. After that point, Mirraw started chasing ethnic wear completely. Today, Mirraw’s proposition is that any customer who thinks of buying anything Indian ethnic, be it home decor, shawls, arts and crafts, jewellery, attire, should find it on Mirraw.