Neeru Sharma’s daughter was four-years-old when she asked her mom what she did for a living. She was too young to understand that her mother had co-founded the e-commerce marketplace, Infibeam, so Sharma showed her the e-tailing website, which carries the tagline, ‘Shop with a smile’. The little one then wanted to order an iPad from the website and Sharma agreed to buy it for her but only on the condition that she would have access to it only during her travel time and holidays. A couple of days later, the four year old, all smiles and giggles, told Sharma, “Now I know what you do. You make smiles.”
It’s difficult to spot the 37-year-old Neeru Sharma without a smile. Almost every sentence ends with a laugh, her words ooze passion, energy and positivity. Today she is the director of platform business service at Infibeam, the first Indian online retailer to go public and one of the few e-commerce start-ups that are profitable. Its FY17 revenue stood at Rs.440 crore with a profit of Rs.44 crore.
Sharma hails from a middle class family in New Delhi. Her father, an HR professional, tried his hand at being an entrepreneur, but that resulted in losses, which prompted her mother to step up and handle their small autolamps plant while her father looked for a job. Meanwhile, the responsibility of taking care of the household fell on Neeru, although she continued to do well in studies.
In 1997, she joined Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak to pursue computer science and engineering. It was here that Sharma met her best friend who would later become her husband. When she graduated in 2001 post the dotcom bust, the IT industry was in a slump and TCS was the only company that came to her college for recruitment. Luckily for her she managed to get a job there, and worked for over two years before moving on to Alcatel.
At Alcatel, Sharma was exposed to the business side of things. A popular reality show had introduced tele-voting for the first time in Indian television history, and this was enabled by Alcatel. Sharma, as the product manager, had the chance to interact with t