Suchi Mukherjee, founder and CEO, LimeRoad

What’s Up, Germany? caught up with Suchi Mukherjee, founder and CEO of LimeRoad, and her message was clear: no guts, no glory.

My aim was to create a digital-age equivalent of the 16th-century Grand Trunk Road—a highway that changed the face of trade in the Indian subcontinent. By curating the best of Indian products across categories, we are building a similar revolution in e-commerce. LimeRoad takes inspiration from the legendary GT Road.
— Suchi Mukherjee

How did you conceive of LimeRoad?

LimeRoad was the inception of an idea that came to me while reading a glossy magazine during one of those rare “me-time” moments after the birth of my second child in London. I had taken a break from work and was utilising the time to introspect on my career. As I flipped through the pages of this beautiful magazine, I found a piece of jewellery I really liked, and I felt the urge to reach out, touch it and buy it.

I realised two things at that point. There was no consumer technology that made the discovery of lovely products easy and entertaining, just like reading a magazine or going through a photo album. And there was no place where one could access the vast array of great products being manufactured and shipped out of Southeast Asia, the world’s manufacturing hub. It was this that led to the birth of LimeRoad.

My aim was to create a digital-age equivalent of the 16th-century Grand Trunk Road—a highway that changed the face of trade in the Indian subcontinent. By curating the best of Indian products across categories, we are building a similar revolution in e-commerce. LimeRoad takes inspiration from the legendary GT Road.

Is there a story behind the “Love Create Share Shop” tagline?

LimeRoad is a fun and exciting way to discover, share and shop. A social commerce platform targeted at the intelligent woman of today, it has three million new looks and products; ninety-five per cent of what one sees on the platform is unique to LimeRoad. Customers love to engage with our brand. We have inbuilt social features: tools for creating user-generated content and direct selling incentives. Scrapbooks allow users to curate looks. We have also empowered scrapbookers to earn when users buy from their looks, therefore building in strong direct selling incentives.

Our endeavour is to build a never-seen-before platform for women to explore and shop, and also share and express their individuality through scrapbooking. Thus our tagline “Love Create Share Shop”.

Tell us more about the scrapbooking feature?

Through this unique feature, women from far-flung corners of India are encouraged to bring their flair for fashion and styling to LimeRoad, and drag and drop items to create “fashion looks”, thereby accelerating the conversion rate for many items, as compared to traditional online marketplace catalogues.

LimeRoad has given birth to a community of entre- preneurs that never existed before: women who didn’t realise they could curate clothing combinations that would go on to become big hits. In fact, our most powerful brand ambassadors are the women whose lives we’ve empowered. There’s 36-year-old Lorina Richmond who, spurred by her LimeRoad experience, launched her own styling advisory business. And there’s the awe-inspiring Farheena, a 14-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy in Bengaluru, who has found an outlet for her style ideas.

The LimeRoad scrapbooking community has grown from 30,000 to 75,000 in the past year. Users post nearly three million style statements as scrapbooks month-on-month, thereby creating exploding freshness on the platform. A new look is being added every second.

What are the challenges you faced as a woman entrepreneur in the largely male-dominated startup space?

Entrepreneurship is hard—for men and women alike. You need the fighter gene to succeed, and that requirement is really gender agnostic. You have to start with the basics and devise a plan to deal with teething issues. In the beginning, finding great people for the team—a combination of skill and can-do spirit—was hard. Basic infrastructure, complex bank processes, complicated RoC [Registrar of Companies] procedures were also a challenge. Next is dealing with people. A happy team is the most productive team. Even people at the most senior levels have adult modes and childlike modes. Spotting those modes and learning to deal with them makes you a much stronger leader.

A strong back-end is crucial for any consumer-led organisation. Partnering with vendors who have a solid back-end in place to ensure a sustained stream of products is an extremely challenging, ongoing task. Prioritising your efforts to build a trustworthy and conducive relationship with your investors is very important.

What are the three crucial factors for startup success?

Ask yourself these three questions before you get going on your startup journey:

  1. What is the problem you’re solving? Whose life will get better by using the product you plan to create?
  2. Are there enough people with this problem? Essentially, is the market large enough?
  3. Are you truly passionate about solving this problem? You’ll need passion to sustain you through the lows, and make no mistake, there will be many.

Would you say e-commerce is the way forward and brick-and-mortar stores will eventually become redundant?

Only two per cent of the manufacturing industry is online in India. As of 2015, the e-commerce business was estimated at $10 billion dollars and is expected to grow to $100 billion by 2020. India is a hugely fragmented market, and both online and offline businesses will coexist. However, with advancing connectivity, improved bandwidth and penetration of smart devices, online businesses will grow faster than offline businesses.

What is your message to young aspiring entrepreneurs?

Always listen to yourself and trust your own judgement. You might be wrong, but it is going to be your decision at the end of the day. And this sense of ownership is essential for whatever you want to do.

What’s Up, Germany? thanks Suchi Mukherjee for the wonderful conversation.