Grow big or go home? Meesho tests its limits in ecommerce

Grow big or go home? Meesho tests its limits in ecommerce

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Aditi Shrivastava

104 reads
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Aditi Shrivastava

104 reads

Nine months after launching a consumer storefront, Meesho makes 1.5 million shipments a day, catering largely to low-income shoppers. Its strategy relies on high marketing and retention spends. With just ad-driven monetisation, can Vidit Aatrey sustain this approach against Flipkart and Shopee?

January 24, 2022

11 Min Read

Startup investors, who pass on a deal like early Flipkart or are crowded out and live to regret the day, rarely get a chance to do things right the second time. They describe this long shot as revisiting an “anti-portfolio” opportunity.

So when social commerce platform Meesho decided last year to become a tad like Flipkart, the largest privately held tech company in India today, fund managers promptly got down to weighing a bet.

Meesho has done enough to keep their interest at elevated levels. In the nine months after winning SoftBank Vision Fund’s backing, it has flipped its business model from a reseller-focused operation to a direct-to-consumer one, and it now targets the mass ecommerce market in select categories like fashion and home. 

The company is actively looking to raise fresh capital in the range of $500 million to $1 billion at a valuation of $8 billion. Last month, it hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to lead its fundraising efforts with a specific intent to tap large sovereign wealth, pension and crossover funds. 

“(Founder) Vidit Aatrey’s positioning is simple: ‘If you missed Flipkart, invest in us’,” said an investor who evaluated the company recently but didn’t invest. 

The CapTable spoke to over half a dozen stakeholders who have engaged with Meesho over the past six months. They say that despite its momentum, building the next Indian ecommerce platform may not be that simple.

For one, Meesho operates in a market where a wide selection of products is key but the average order value is low. The segment sees intense competition with the presence of deep-pocketed players such as Flipkart and Singapore-based Shopee, and one needs to be prepared for high cash burn. Moreover, Meesho’s month-on-month growth has slowed in the past 60 days, an indication that its market potential may be peaking.

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