Early Life of Richa Kar
In a country like India where majority of the start-ups are owned and manged by male entrepreneurs, Richa Kar broke the prejudice in a manner that the nation was forced to stand up and take notice. The young lady hailing from Jamshedpur founded Zivame.com an online lingerie store for Indian women which made her the new age woman entrepreneur of India.
Richa who had never been afraid of taking chances was indomitable with respect to her business plan of online lingerie store despite the opposition of her own family. Richa herself believes, that if you are focussed, strong and feel passionately about what you want to do, then things will eventually fall in place.
How Richa Thought of Zivame Idea
Before making her entry into the start-up setup, Richa had a great job and a well settled career. Following her engineering from BITS Pilani, she was working in a corporate set-up in Bangalore. Post this, she went to complete her MBA and joined Spencers for a brief period and then she held the post of a retail consultant with SAP which enabled her to learn about the set-up and working of the retail sector.
While working with SAP, she tracked the online sales of Victoria’s Secret which is the largest retail seller of women’s lingerie. Victoria’s Secret was one of the clients of SAP and Richa observed that sales figure of the lingerie retailer went past the set targets well before the time, which made her think that such type of online lingerie shopping facility should be available to Indian women as well. So, after working for almost 8 years in the retail sector, Richa had gained enough knowledge of the particular sector and she made her mind to start something on the lines of Victoria’s Secret.
Initial Struggles and bringing Zivame to Existence
After deciding to start an online lingerie store, Richa discussed the idea with her mother, and the reaction of her mother was not supportive at all. Richa’s mother was worried that she would get embarrassed telling her friends that her daughter Richa sells bra panties online. Also, she did not get any support from her father as well and he outrightly rejected her business concept. However, Richa was determined about her idea and she went against her parent’s will to commence her online lingerie store.
To make sure that she is able to get insight into lingerie business, she frequented many malls and there she would just observe women and their embarrassment about buying lingerie as most of the shopkeepers in such shops are male. She also noticed that women cannot ask or expect for styling and fitting tips when buying their lingerie offline.
Taking into consideration all such points, Richa decided to name her online lingerie store, “Ziva” which in Hebrew language means Radiance. However, since that particular name was already taken, she decided to settle with Zivame, which translated to “Radiant Me”. Following this, she launched the Zivame in the year of 2011 with all the money that she had as savings and some extra 35 lakh Rs which she borrowed from her friends.
Initial Funding and the Zivame Growth
It was 25th of August 2011, when she launched Zivame with a small office space. And, it was only after 5 hours that Zivame received her first order. For dispensing an unparalleled customer experience, it is important to maintain a proper inventory. However, for maintaining a perfect inventory, regular flow of cash is paramount. And, this is where Zivame did the right thing by looking for funds initially in the journey.
So, once the business started to grow, the company raised funding amounting to $9 million spanning across two rounds from investors comprising of Kalaari Capital, Unilazer Ventures and IDG Ventures. Within a span of 3 years since its launch, Zivame had made a remarkable growth and from running a small office, it expanded to a team of 200 members and counting.
How Zivame is different from others
At a time when e-commerce companies in India were looking grow through category expansion, Richa decided to target only one category and lead by example. She was of the opinion that the category should come first, and e-commerce would get facilitated itself if the customer experience is focussed upon. So, in way, Zivame decided to focus on the product line while enabling its customers to choose the right lingerie with right fit.
Today Richa Kar is regarded as a pioneer in Indian e-commerce and one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the country. Her story in its truest sense is one of the most empowering success stories in India. To come up with an idea and setting up a successful online business and disrupting the lingerie industry is in itself a remarkable achievement. Richa with her sheer determination and business acumen will inspire millions of women in India to chase their dreams and take up the entrepreneurial path.