Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur, says Radhika Ghai- India’s first woman to enter the Unicorn club

Radhika Ghai

Radhika Ghai, Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer at ShopClues.com

An Internet entrepreneur and India's first woman to enter the Unicorn club, Radhika Ghai is the Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer at ShopClues.com. She started her entrepreneurial journey quite early. Upon completion of post-graduation in Advertising and PR in 1999, she started an ad agency. This was her first brush with entrepreneurship, under the guidance and mentorship of her father. After this, she took a break from her entrepreneurial journey to pursue MBA from Washington University, St. Louis. Post her MBA, she worked with Goldman Sachs and Nordstrom - America's leading chain of department stores, headquartered in Seattle. She started ShopClues in 2011 with a 10 member team in Gurugram out of a basement. As the driving force behind its go-to-market initiatives, she has carefully nurtured the brand to make it a household name in less than 5 years.  Radhika has diverse experience across industry segments such as retail, e-commerce, fashion & lifestyle, advertising, and public relations.

Radhika keeps a keen eye on small victories, and cherishes them, for she knows that in the long run, they lead to bigger gains – be it merchant stories, complete customer experience or being a good role model. She is passionate about the education of underprivileged children and runs various programmes, through NGOs like Literacy India, for their holistic development. Very recently Radhika was felicitated by President Ram Nath Kovind for being the ‘First Lady’ in e-commerce to co-found the unicorn company.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview where Radhika unfolded her entrepreneurial journey with HelloPost Team:

What motivated you to start your own venture?

Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. The unwavering spirit led me to start my second venture in 2006 – Fashion Clues. It was a social portal for NRI women, and I truly started experiencing the thrill and joy of handling a business end to end. I was focused on creating something that will have an impact on society. In 2011, I co-founded ShopClues, which started out of a basement. ShopClues is for Bharat, where Bharat sells and shops. Within a few years, ShopClues became a household name serving more than 31,500 pin codes with over 2.8 crore listed products through our 6 lac+ strong merchant ecosystem and growing.

I was very keen on revamping the fashion and lifestyle category which, over a short period of time, became one of the highest grossing categories of ShopClues. ShopClues launched a variety of exclusive labels such as Home Berry under the Home & Kitchen category, 29K under men’s fashion wear, MEIA under women’s lifestyle wear and Code Yellow under women’s western wear. All labels caught the customer’s attention very soon and we received a tremendous response from them.

What were the challenges that you’ve faced while starting your own venture?

Entrepreneurship comes with the knowledge that you are going to fail often. Everything is about trial and error, and mistakes and failures are aplenty. I would say I failed 30 per cent of the time, and pretty much every day. The point is you learn something every time, and fail in new ways, but never the same way twice. That’s most important-to learn from failure, and just show up the next day, and the next, till you have got it right.

What was the biggest achievement during your entrepreneurship journey?

My journey had many small milestones – from ShopClues reaching its first thousand merchants to it becoming a Unicorn – milestones have been plenty. One major milestone apart from this was also winning the First Lady Award by MWCD and the President of India.

How do you maintain a good work-life balance and personal life?

To me, the concept of work-life balance doesn’t exist. When it’s work, I stay 100 per cent focused on work, and likewise, on my children when at home. I have had to miss a couple of the kids’ performances because I had important meetings. I tried to explain to them why it was not possible for me to be there. My kids and family have been supportive, but there is no utopia; it can't and doesn't exist.

Who is your role model?

I have always looked up to Indra Nooyi. She’s immensely inspirational, and the epitome of a strong, bold woman.

What is your secret to success?

Hard work is an outcome of passion. If you are passionate, you will work towards achieving results and success will follow.

What’s one leadership lesson that you’ve learned in your career?

Being an entrepreneur is a journey of challenges and there can never be a rule book to tackle them. It’s like saying that goes, “life is the most difficult exam, which many fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper”

An incident took place on Valentine’s day when the portal received orders for over 250 bouquets of flowers, it was a huge number at that time. The flower vendor was absconding. He said he could make more money selling fresh flowers on the street than supplying to us. To fix this, the team went out of its way and shipped soft toys and chocolates with handwritten notes, along with an apology.

The incident was a lesson that mistakes happen, and how one responds determines their character. There are several mistakes and we are wiser because of them.

Any advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

I do not believe in differentiating women entrepreneurs from their male counterparts on the basis of their orientation. Men or women, be equipped with the skill, capacity, vision, and willingness of a leader and hence, be respected as thus. Not because one is a woman and hence they have to be treated like that just for the sake of it.

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