Vidit Aatrey: Crafting Commerce, Empowering Entrepreneurs

Individuals from non-business backgrounds faced significant challenges in envisioning their own ventures three decades ago. Perhaps they could pursue entrepreneurship after gaining experience in the private sector and accumulating sufficient capital. Otherwise, it remained a distant dream. Few individuals exemplify the democratisation of Indian entrepreneurship more than Vidit Aatrey, founder and CEO of the widely recognised social commerce platform Meesho.

Vidit has followed an inspiring path, transforming his modest startup into a prominent presence in India’s e-commerce sector. His accomplishments have been recognised with prestigious awards, including Fortune’s 40 Under 40 for 2021 and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2018. 

Originally from Surat, Gujarat, Vidit Aatrey pursued an engineering degree and began his career in the software industry. However, driven by his entrepreneurial spirit and desire for innovation, he sought out new avenues. Between June 2012 and June 2015, he served as the assistant manager at the ICC firm, followed by a year in the role of associate manager at InMobi. Yet, after just six months in this role, he boldly decided to leave and launch his immensely successful venture, Meesho.

Vidit and his friend Sanjeev Barnwal founded Meesho towards the end of 2015. Like many startups, there were adjustments and changes in direction along the way. However, by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Meesho had amassed millions of female users. According to a press release on December 2, 2021, the number of female micro-entrepreneurs surged by 2.5 times to exceed nine million. Meesho is also gaining traction in traditionally conservative small-town and rural communities nationwide.

In 2015, at its inception, Meesho operated under the name FASHNEAR, functioning as an online platform akin to Swiggy and Zomato. FASHNEAR focused on fashion-related products, allowing users to buy clothing and fashion accessories from local retailers. Customers could order through the FASHNEAR app, and delivery personnel were available to deliver goods. Local retailers specializing in clothing and accessories had the option to register with the application. However, soon after, the founders, Sanjeev Barnwal and Vidit Aatrey, discovered flaws in the business model and relaunched it as Meesho.

The platform allows users to explore products, create their own catalogues, and share them with their social circles, effectively reaching potential customers. Additionally, Meesho provides logistical and payment support, making it easier for sellers to manage their online businesses. Thanks to its innovative approach and user-friendly interface, Meesho quickly gained popularity, especially among women in Tier-II and Tier-III cities who were looking for flexible earning opportunities.

As the platform’s success grew, it attracted significant funding, fueling Meesho’s expansion. The company’s steadfast commitment to empowering women entrepreneurs and small businesses was crucial in its remarkable growth. In 2021, Meesho reached a significant milestone by becoming one of the first Indian startups to achieve a valuation of over $2 billion. Its current valuation exceeds $4 billion, a testament to Vidit and his team’s dedication.

Meesho is referred to as a social commerce platform because it was constructed by women resellers who discovered livelihood and financial independence by reselling items bought from the platform on WhatsApp and Facebook. From 2017 to 2020, all sales occurred through resellers. However, the proportion of these female resellers has now decreased to 20% as consumers have begun to download the app directly. Meesho currently boasts an average of 120 million monthly users, with 35 million users engaging in transactions on the app each month. On average, 110 million Indian shoppers make purchases on Meesho every year.

Before founding Meesho, Vidit held positions that were not at an executive level or high rank. From June 2012 to June 2015, he was an assistant manager at the ICC firm. He then worked as an associate manager with InMobi for an entire year. However, he only remained in this position for six months before departing to launch his own highly profitable venture with Meesho.

Vidit Aatrey’s journey epitomises the importance of recognising market gaps, creating user-centric products, and remaining steadfast in a vision. His narrative inspires budding entrepreneurs, illustrating that innovative solutions and unwavering commitment can lead to transformative success in the business landscape.

Leave a Reply