This 22-year-old entrepreneur started a marketplace for purpose-driven D2C brands

Generation Z consumers value personalised products and are often drawn toward brands that share their points of view. However, the country lacks a dedicated platform for these new-age shoppers.

According to First Insight, close to 73 percent of Gen Z consumers are willing to pay 10 percent more for sustainable products, driven by a strong sense of individuality and the need to reflect their values, preferences, and interests with every purchase.

Today, brands need to be purpose-driven, especially if they are appealing to Gen Z customers.

Realising this, 22-year-old Ishita Sawant — a Bachelor of Science in International Business (Marketing) from Northeastern University, Boston — established Meolaa early this year.

Meolaa aims to define the future of shopping by curating products that resonate with the values of next-generation shoppers — Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Y consumers — who are more likely to buy sustainable, high-quality products.

At present, the startup has a database of over 4,000 direct-to-customer (D2C) brands, of which it has onboarded nearly 250 brands across athleisure, loungewear, relaxed fits, face yoga/massages, etc., segments.

According to Meolaa, these brands have enabled new-generation consumers to shop with purpose and curation and promote gender fluidity, size inclusivity, etc. 

Recently, the Bengaluru-based startup closed a pre-seed round led by Dale Vaz (CTO of Swiggy), Nikhil Vora (Founder and CEO, Sixth Sense Ventures), Sachin Bhartiya (Founder, Lighthouse Funds), and StrongHer Ventures, to name a few.

A mentor of Meolaa since its nascent stage, Dale says, “I am super excited to be associated with the Meolaa story. Ishita’s vision of building a ‘good for you/good for earth’ shopping destination is a unique take on building a large consumer business grounded in principles of sustainability and care for the environment. This is a noble mission, and I wish Ishita and her team the very best in the journey ahead.”

Ishita (centre), with the Meolaa team

What does the platform do?

Ishita claims the startup used its pre-seed fund to build its technology platform and hire more people in its workforce. At present, Meolaa has 25 employees across sales, operations, category management, technology, marketing, growth, and creative functions. 

The platform — set up in three months — aims to build new-age commerce experiences, including a customer portal, super-admin portal, seller portal and dispatch centre portal, etc., for customers. 

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers introspected their purchasing decisions and became more mindful of their spending. Over 79 percent consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on social responsibility, inclusiveness, and environmental impact. 

“Identifying and forecasting trends and values emerging among our target audience and identifying brands that resonate with all of them at scale was challenging. However, over time, we have become well acquainted with trend forecasting reports. Also, industry experts from fashion, beauty and personal care, and lifestyle categories have enabled us to construct an ever-growing database,” says Ishita.

Meolaa operates as a marketplace model and charges a commission to the brand when it makes a sale on the platform. At present, the brand earns an average commission of 27 percent.

Nikhil Vora, Founder and CEO, Sixth Sense Ventures, says, “Good for you is emerging to be among the biggest themes for the next decade, and as new-age brands plank themselves on this theme, there will be a need for platforms servicing the consumer needs of tomorrow. Consumer spending power will be driven by sustainability, and Meolaa’s quest of building a community of conscious consumers and brands is something that fascinates me.” 

Team and future 

Talking about the founder, Nikhil adds, “It’s extremely critical for me to invest in founders who I find passionate and infectious! In Ishita, I found one. A young mind, a challenger, and has no mortal fear of taking on leaders. That’s what Meolaa should stand for.”

According to IndianRetailer.com, India’s gifting and niche ecommerce market is pegged at $30 billion, of which $400 million could be attributed to the digital space. 

Meolaa competes with startups, including Zwende, BlessedBuy, and Tjori, which fall under the niche and sustainable ecommerce categories.

Ankita Vashistha, Founder and Managing Partner, StrongHer Ventures, says, “StrongHer Ventures is pleased to back Meolaa. Ishita Sawant is a stellar young entrepreneur, building commerce for the new age, experimental, and conscious consumer in India, targeting the $200B opportunity in the next three years.” 

Meolaa aims to define the future of shopping by curating generationally relevant content and sustainable products. In the long run, it aims to be the go-to destination for experiences. 

“We have begun implementing the first stage of our go-to-market strategy. Over the next six months, we have planned extensive and impactful online and offline activation for the brand, including concept-driven experience centres, innovative technological enhancements, and innovation for the commerce experience,” Ishita says.


https://yourstory.com/herstory/2022/05/22-year-old-entrepreneur-d2c-brands-meolaa-purpose-driven-ecommerce-marketplace

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