Myntra looks to expand presence in Silicon Valley
Bengaluru: Flipkart-owned fashion retailer Myntra plans to expand its presence in Silicon Valley, as part of a broader push to invest more on technology this year, with the retailer looking to hire an executive to head a small team of data scientists in the US.
Separately, Myntra has also added more brands to its brand accelerator programme and is aiming to generate more than a quarter of its overall revenue from its portfolio of private brands in 2018-19 financial year, Myntra chief executive Ananth Narayanan said in an interview.
Myntra, which already has a small office in Silicon Valley through its 2013 acquisition of San Francisco-based start-up Fitiquette (which had developed a virtual fitting room technology), will put a separate team in place in the US.
“We are ramping up tech hiring big time. Our biggest investment by far will be in tech. We will grow tech much faster than revenue. We are hiring architects, we are hiring data scientists, we will hire a head of data science, we will hire people in the US. We’ll have a small team in the US,” said Narayanan.
Myntra’s latest push into Silicon Valley is part of a broader strategy to integrate technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning through all of its business processes, with the fashion retailer looking to use technology as a big differentiator against well-funded competitors such as Amazon India.
Already, Myntra has made a massive bet in building out an AI-powered technology platform called Rapid, which is capable of a wide variety of functions, including helping the retailer’s designers come up with designs for clothes and even help shrink the manufacturing process for Myntra’s fast-fashion products.
Mint reported in December Myntra was aiming to turn its ambitious Rapid project into a billion-dollar business by 2020-21. Myntra is building out new offerings using the technology platform, including selling it as a service and outsourcing it to big brands both in India and abroad. “We’re using tech, machine learning and AI through every business process in Myntra to see what we can actually do more often and better,” said Narayanan.
Apart from its main technology bets, Bengaluru-based Myntra also has supplementary programmes such as its tech partnerships initiative, through which it partners with or makes small investments in disruptive, new-age start-ups. “Tech partnerships is a separate programme that we look at. It’s run separately by our strategy and planning team, and partly out of our tech team. It’s a little more opportunistic,” said Narayanan, adding the main purpose of the programme is to make so-called acqui-hires.
Myntra also has a brand accelerator programme, through which it plans to invest in and forge strategic partnerships with at least 15 small- to mid-sized fashion brands. So far, Myntra has invested in about five such brands.
“The first two brands (in the accelerator) have done really well on the platform. They are starting to really scale and are growing much faster than the rest of the platform. We’re using the Rapid tech on them...We’re still sticking with our (target of) overall 8-10% of the platform. We’re ahead of target for the first year,” said Narayanan.
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