veryone thought I was doing something crazy,” recalls Peyush Bansal. After all, why would someone quit a well-paying and “immensely satisfying” job with Microsoft in the US only to return to Delhi and take over the basement in his parents’ home? But it was 2008, the economic climate was worsening and Bansal felt the timing was perfect to take a break and decide how to be a part of the big picture.
As a first step, Bansal, then 25 years old, joined IIM, Bangalore for an executive MBA program and also launched an online classifieds site called searchmycampus. He soon started another website called Flyrr that sold sunglasses, spectacles and contact lenses to American clients. The site ran into product delivery delays, but Bansal was ready with other plans. The result was Lenskart, India’s first online eyewear store. Launched in November 2010 by Valyoo Technologies, the company Bansal founded a couple of years earlier, Lenskart now gets about 45,000 visitors every day, of whom about 400-500 spend an average ₹1,200 on ordering contact lenses, spectacles and eye accessories. Bansal expects this activity to be reflected in the FY12 topline when Valyoo will have sales of ₹15-20 crore. Investors, too, seem eager — technology fund IDG Ventures pumped $4 million into Lenskart last year.
The initial success and plumper pockets have led Bansal to launch three more websites, each of which, like Lenskart, aims to become the category leader on the net. While Watchkart and Bagskart were launched last year, Jewelskart went online in January. Valyoo’s investor seems to approve of the strategy. IDG Ventures MD TC Meenakshisundaram says that Valyoo focuses on creating category leaders in product segments where supply chain inefficiencies lead to high c