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I am Suchi Mukherjee, CEO & Founder of Limeroad, and This is How I Work

I am Suchi Mukherjee, CEO & Founder of Limeroad, and This is How I Work

Limeroad, fashion marketplace for women, rose to prominence as a leading e-commerce platform with its unique approach to personalisation. The five-year-old e-tailer played a clever move by diversifying into the men's category recently, offering Bollywood-themed styles, looks, and scrapbooks for men. And the innovative CEO of this multi-million-dollar company is London School of Economics alumnus, Suchi Mukherjee, who moved back to India to become an entrepreneur.

The former eBay and Gumtree executive laid the groundwork for Limeroad while flipping through the pages of a glossy fashion magazine on her maternity leave. Suchi, with her grand vision of creating a global brand based out of India, started Limeroad in 2011 and her ambition is to create a digital-age equivalent of the 16th Century Grand Trunk Road.

We asked Suchi about her journey as a global entrepreneur and the secret behind Limeroad's phenomenal success. The mother of two shared how she works and manages to balance her personal & professional life efficiently.

Location: Gurgaon

Current Gig: CEO & Founder at Limeroad

One word that best describes how you work: 'Hatke'

Current mobile device: Samsung S7

Current computer: Rose Gold Macbook

Tell us about your journey and how did you get where you have?

I came back to India in 2011 with the vision of creating a global brand based out of India. It has been years since we have had a world class product made in our country. With a passion for driving change and innovation, which is also the core of LimeRoad's culture, I got together with my co-founders to work towards our quest for building something transformational.

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 utilized the time to introspect my career.

As I flipped the pages of this beautiful magazine, I found a piece of jewelry I really liked, and I felt the urge to reach out, touch it and buy it.

I realized two things at that point. There was:

A.No consumer technology play that made discovery of lovely products easy and entertaining, just like reading a lovely magazine, just like flipping lovely photos in an album

B.No place from which one could access the vast array of great products that was being manufactured and shipped out of South-East Asia, the world's manufacturing hub

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 ecommerce.

We wanted to build a highly engaging platform where users came not for the discounts but because they loved to see new products. We built Limeroad in such a fashion that consumers got "Freshness on Steroids". Fresh personalised fashion is served to our consumers every 30 seconds via the LimeRoad app! At the same time, we didn't want to invest in our own private labels and hold inventory since that just didn't seem like good business. Holding our own inventory would skew our incentives towards our own brands rather than genuinely allow the best styles to bubble up - which is why LimeRoad is a true style meritocracy.

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

I have been building consumer technology and having an acumen for the same, I have my list of favourites-

  • 1.Skype, because I identify with it as the prime platforms of communication technology. It's amazing to see how easy it is connect to friends, family as well as business acquaintances sitting in places far away and are time zones apart.

  • 2. "LimeRoad- India's Most Stylish App. Not only because I've built it but also because it has 'life changing' and 'all entertaining' features that make it so fresh and exclusive. You open it not just for shopping but also for discovering new styles served fresh on such an advanced consumer knitting technology.

What's your workspace setup like?

Open spaces where communication between team members and leader flow freely discuss & ideate. We pride in providing a space with nearly infinite freedom where literally the individual is his/her biggest blocker. No role is out of bounds. No door is closed. If you are willing to fight to make stuff happen, everyone in LimeRoad will literally help make it happen for you! We take pride in having our people talk openly, without fear and taking a stance that may be counter intuitive. As long as it is embedded in logic / data, everyone is listening.

What's your success mantra? Are there any life hacks to succeed in a short span of time?

There is no shortcut to success. You must build an Iron Man suit for yourself. The smallest of success needs to be celebrated, and flat-out failing is just not an option you give yourself. You need the fighter gene to succeed, and that requirement I think is really agnostic to what degree we hold. You must be prepared for failures. Resilience plays a very crucial role to attain success.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without and why?

While I believe in the power and importance of communication technology and other technologies, I also like real time communication and learning process. Hence when I am not working, I like to invest time spending with my children become an active part of their growing age. Also I like to read a lot, be it books, newspaper, magazine or a blog.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

I am a good listener! I believe true leadership is about enabling the voice of the youngest member of the team. It is incredibly important to have dialogues involving the team at every level. I always encourage my team to ask more questions. If someone says that a task is not possible, ask why? And keep asking how will he/she solve the problem. The team should solve the problem together. I strongly believe that everything is doable, and I believe it is my role to pass that belief to my team as well.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I am a good listener, don't know what does it qualify as. I mostly balance it and adapt my shyness or outspokenness according to the need and situation.

What's your sleep routine like?
Being a mother of two children and leading an energetic team of 450 employees there is plenty to keep me awake at night!! Balancing fitness in the busy schedule is hard. No questions about that. But over longer periods of time, say a week, you might be able to achieve a somewhat balanced life. One just needs to be highly deliberate with everything - the choice of place to live, the type of staff you choose, the hours you keep and the trade-offs you make. I have recently shifted to Gurgaon closer to my office so that's a little relief.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History!! I have always had the approach of making ambitious, shooting-for-the-stars plans, and then buckling down to get into the most nano-scopic details to make sure that we get there. I have never felt the need to play safe, so I guess you can slot me as a 'risk-taker'. When you downplay the risk, you downplay the thrill of success as well.

How do you manage the roles of a mother and CEO so efficiently? How do you recharge when you feel exhausted after managing all the responsibility at home and at work?

You need the fighter gene to succeed, and that requirement I think its gender agnostic. You have to be prepared for failures. Resilience plays a very crucial role to attain success. It is possibly harder for women because all said and done, there are simply more family expectations of women. There are degrees of variations depending on families, backgrounds, histories. I am grateful to have an extremely supportive family, which helps enormously to ignore the many things I am sure I obviously miss amidst being an entrepreneur, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a niece etc. all at the same time.

Recently, I was invited to the NDTV Unicorn awards, and it happened to be my son's birthday. One can imagine the consternation at home, but winning the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award, I think is a bigger long-term gift for my son so he can appreciate the values of working hard and striving for a dream.

How many meetings to (do) you attend in a day on an average and how do you motivate your team in edit/product meetings?

I believe that part of my role as a leader is to help develop and hone the fighter gene in people. Failures, setbacks and fight-backs apart from thinking on your feet and being empowered are some of the things that startups can teach you more than anywhere else. We have a weekly open forum called 'All Minds' which allows every single person in the organization to share their ideas, innovations and successes with the senior-most leadership, which has added tremendously to our teams and our organization.

What's new in pipeline for Limeroad in 2017?

The dynamics of the online fashion world will change materially, with LimeRoad firmly emerging as a leader in fast fashion. We are today the fastest and most consistently growing business in the fashion space, and have managed to do this while solidifying our path to profitability.
These days I am up dreaming of all the possibilities of building a truly extensive fast fashion platform. The opportunity is huge, given the $200 billion manufacturing base we Indians have, and the 10-20 million manufacturing units and SMEs in the space. The issues with India are never the size of the market but the ability to execute seamlessly given the scarcity of truly high quality talent, high quality infrastructure compounded sadly by the drive to 4G, and some inbuilt cultural issues on follow-through. These do sometimes keep me awake!

Is there anything else you'd like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans?

What I have seen from my experience around the globe is that challenges are everywhere. But one needs to start off with the basics and devise a plan to deal with teething issues. At the very start, you need to commit yourself to a dream, and go at things with a can-do attitude. These days I'm following the Iron Man school of philosophy. You have to be a little bit crazy, a little bit of a dreamer, and a little bit unafraid of pain and risks, only then will you have a shot at glory.

Do you yourself shop from Limeroad at times? If yes, what's the most recent buy?

My motto- Shop only on LimeRoad! We post post 4000 new styles every day and they come from sellers across the country. I recently brought a saree for my mother.

Also Read: I'm Vikram Agarwal, Director, Cornitos, And This Is How I Work

The How I Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Ishita.

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