Meesho, which started in 2015, has never looked like a company in every year of its journey to date. Yet it is now considered a category-defining startup, valued at $ 2.1 billion and placed in the same league as Airbnb.
So how do you define a category as a startup?
Vidit Aatrey, Founder and CEO of, offers a response: “By staying close to your users.
The founder admits that in the first year he and his co-founder had no idea what their product would look like. However, they were sure their target customers would reveal the idea. Meesho became what he is today by “constantly interacting with users over the years”.
“All of our brilliant ideas came from our customers,” says Vidit. “Once we figured out we wanted to help small businesses go digital, we would sit in their stores every day to observe their day-to-day operations. When we changed our platform to enable female entrepreneurs, I was running a WhatsApp group with 10-15 initial Meesho users and kept in touch constantly.
Vidit says that you have to accumulate the necessary information about building a product directly from the end user, otherwise it becomes difficult to be intuitive and judge the value of the product.
One of Meesho’s main core values is to constantly communicate with customers; this is how the social e-commerce company continues to grow exponentially.
Sanjeev Barnwal (left) and Vidit Aatrey, co-founders, Meesho
Align investors and employees
When you create a startup that defines a category, no one will see the actual business model or the target problem. The business will be different every year. Vidit effectively kept its investors and staff aligned with the idea for the business using two unique yet simple strategies.
“First, everyone in the the company needs to understand the core problem you are trying to solve,” he says.
For Meesho, it was digitize local small businesses and he made sure every board member, investor and employee understands this goal even when the “how” changed quite frequently.
“Second, you have to maintain a clear line of communication. Even the most junior employee in your company should be familiar with the visions and ideas of the company that you typically discuss in boardrooms.
How to build a team for a startup that defines a category?
Ultimately, the the team will take you where you want to reach, and a few hiring opportunities have just been put in place for Vidit and Meesho. He explained how, early on, he hired ex-entrepreneurs who understood the startup’s cultures of non-linearity and uncertainty.
From there, Vidit would give their new hires the contact numbers of 10-20 Meesho users to give them a feel for how people were using the app.
“People care about the type of business they work for. If they can see that their contribution to the business is actually helping people and feeling like they’re part of something big, the team will automatically stay with you, ”he says.
Vidit’s strategy for helping people was to keep its staff close to users – a constant theme in Meesho’s success.
Start as soon as you can
“Startup defining a category or not, start your business as soon as you can.” There is no such thing as a great time to quit your job and enter the startup ecosystem, ”says Vidit, speaking of what he would change at home if he could do it all over again.
The founder of Meesho adds: “If you think you are an insufficiently prepared entrepreneur, you will make mistakes. But these mistakes will give you valuable lessons that you can use in your future journey ”.
To find out more, listen to the podcast here
01:05 – The beginnings of Meesho, the idea and the challenges
1:30 p.m. – Meesho’s core value of always listening to users
16:50 – Team building, recruitment and retention of talents in startups
26:50 – Current landscape of the Indian e-commerce sector
33:00 – Importance of trust and accessibility in e-commerce
36:35 – Vidit’s journey as a founder and his learning