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CEO of Alibaba-owned Daraz gives tips for building successful business


After six years at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker, Bjarke Mikkelsen was faced with a dilemma.

“I’ve had a very comfortable life, but I don’t really feel like I have a purpose,” he tells CNBC Make It.

“In banking, you’re always an advisor in the end. I know I want to try and run a business… I want to do something in the tech sector but also something that has the operational aspect because I like to build things.”

Those aspirations brought the then 34-year-old man to Pakistan, where he built an e-commerce marketplace called Daraz.

“The idea has always been to build something inspired by Amazon and Alibaba, where you have three elements. E-commerce marketplace, logistics and payment infrastructure. ”

One of the things I love most about e-commerce is that it’s fair, it’s a great equalizer.

Bjarke Mikkelsen

Founder and CEO, Daraz

In 2018, three years after the business was launched, Daraz has been acquired by Alibaba in an undisclosed deal – as part of the Chinese e-commerce giant’s efforts to expand in South Asia.

Daraz currently operates in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar, serving 40 million active customers, the company claims.

“One of the things I love most about e-commerce is that it’s fair, it’s a great equalizer,” says Mikkelsen.

“It doesn’t matter if you are male or female or you live in a big city or a rural area… Everyone has the opportunity as a seller to start a business, as a customer you also have access to access the same type of quality service.”

Alibaba-owned Daraz shares plan to stay competitive in South Asia

That’s especially happening in South Asia, according to Mikkelsen, where not everyone has “equal access to offline retail infrastructure.”

“The balance factor is really something that really inspires me and I want to try and do something about this.”

How did the 41-year-old turn his startup into one of South Asia’s e-commerce players? Mikkelsen shares her top tips with CNBC Make It.

1. Do your due diligence

Mikkelsen left investment banking in 2015, a time when “there was so much hype around tech startups”.

“It’s very easy to get funding to start something.”

However, he said it’s important to exercise accountability in assessing opportunities and finding target consumers.

“I spent a lot of time just researching the market and understanding where the potential was,” says Mikkelsen.

Covid gives South Asia the embrace of e-commerce: Daraz . CEO

“I started looking at South Asia and I realized that it was such an important part of the world and there was no e-commerce at the time. There are half a billion people – it’s a pretty big opportunity that is often overlooked. .”

Mikkelsen also moved to Pakistan, where he lived for three years and spent most of his time traveling to the countryside to get to know the people, their culture and their needs.

“If I try to build an e-commerce business that looks like Amazon in Denmark, it won’t work out,” he added.

“We needed to add value so we could eventually build a profitable business.”

2. Keep it 100%

For Mikkelsen, being able to get your business “between 90% and 100%” is where the magic happens.

“You underestimate how much effort goes into launching a great product and building a great service… 90% is nothing, it will never fly but you have to get to 100%. .”

That’s something he learned the hard way in Daraz’s early days, as he had no experience in building an e-commerce website.

What I really practice a lot is just slow things down, pause, and know that things are still as good as they can be. [even] when everyone else thought we were done.

Bjarke Mikkelsen

Founder and CEO, Daraz

“I don’t know what I’m doing… just doing some things 100% right is very, very challenging.”

According to Mikkelsen, slowing down is the key to achieving excellence.

He added: “E-commerce is very fast paced and people are always under pressure to do the next project or the next goal or the next campaign.

“But what I really practice a lot is to just slow things down, pause, and know that things are still as good as they can be. [even] when everyone else thought we were done. “

3. The work is never done

Although Daraz is on a “path to profitability” with a positive gross margin, Mikkelsen said the work is not done yet.

“I used to think that at some point, once we hit a billion dollar business… we’d have processes and things settle down. But now I realize that even For Alibaba, it’s a mechanism that will always evolve,” he said.

“Our business model will never be realized. We need to keep optimizing and changing to market externalities and new trends.”

Mikkelsen’s next focus? Make sure Daraz weighs effectively.

“This year … we are slowing down a bit to focus on attracting the right customers and building customer value propositions for each [business] ” said Bjarke Mikkelsen, CEO and Founder of Daraz.

Daraz

“This year, we’re likely to hit about a billion dollars in gross merchandise volume … we’re slowing down a bit to focus on attracting the right customers and building customer value propositions. row for each [business] Category.”

For now, however, Mikkelsen is content with the sense of purpose he finds, in which “there is no lack of purpose”.

“We have over 40 million customers active on the app every month and we have over 100,000 sellers on our platform where we really create opportunities and make lives better,” he said. more.

4. Sink or swim



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