Failure of Wooplr: Decoding the Why and How!
By: Harmanpreet Kaur
Wooplr was a social commerce platform that allowed users to discover and shop fashion products. The platform was founded in 2013 by Arjun Zacharia, Ankit Sabharwal, Praveen Rajaretnam, Soumen Sarkar, and Prakhar Gupta.
Wooplr initially started as a fashion discovery platform where users could discover fashion products recommended by friends and influencers. Later, it evolved into a social commerce platform where users could buy and sell products through the platform. Wooplr allowed sellers to set up their online stores on the platform, and buyers could purchase products directly from the sellers.
Despite initial success and funding, Wooplr faced challenges in scaling up its business and achieving profitability. In early 2021, Wooplr announced that it was shutting down its operations due to financial constraints and an inability to raise further funds.
The Rising: Wooplr’s Growing
For a year, they operated the website in secret beta mode and solicited input from friends and users. In fact, they met the first 500 Wooplr users and made adjustments to the features based on their comments before launching the public beta in March 2013 after the MVP was complete. Together with the Wooplr web version, they also released iOS and Android apps. During twomonths of introduction, they were able to add 8000 new users to the web portal and average over 2,000 daily downloads between the Android and iOS apps. They quickly acquired popularity in Bangalore and made the decision to relocate to other cities, like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, etc.
Now, apparently it was growing and becoming popular so soon. It was becoming an employment provider in a country like India with such huge unemployed people and creating entrepreneurs everywhere, it becomes saddening to know that the success didn’t really last too long and the descending days of Wooplr approached.
The Descending: Tough time at Wooplr
Wooplr was facing a tough time as it was descending to its end. An internal discussion took place and they decided to shut it down rather than going for an acquisition. Its employees were referred to other companies. They told their suppliers that they are facing a temporary shut down and they would be sending there money soon and told them that this is due to the end of financial year. They said they will make the pending payments soon, but some sources mentioned that they hadn’t receive the payment even after 2 months.
Reasons for the Failure of the Startup
1. Couldn’t acquire enough funds
Wooplr raised its first funding on 15th February 2015 of $5 Million from Helion Ventures. On 25 August 2016, Astarc Ventures made a funding of an unknown amount to Wooplr. Further, Sistema Asia Capital on 8th February 2017 had invested $8 Million. But Wooplr is observed to have ran out of funds. According to the blog YourStory Wooplr was also facing a technology backend and had “spent extensively on its technology backend integrated with Google and logistics partner Delhivery”. Initially in 2013 it started as a fashion discovery platform by its founders. But in 2017, it completely shifted to social-commerce model. However, there has not been mentioned a clear connection between the events, but yet it is pertinent to note that this happened after the of Wooplr’s founders left the company.
Company was in need of money. But it was not able to raise any fund. In June 2018, it took a debt of $35 Million from Trifecta Capital Advisors.6 Later, it went out of money and even previous investors refused to help Wooplr. They were having conversations with a Chinese Company for funding. But it didn’t succeed. It was later found out that the company had invested in Wooplr’s competitor GlowRoad. In April 2019, although Wooplr again raised $ 2.5 Million from Helion ventures Partners, but still the situation could not be fixed.
2. Ignoring Feedback
Wooplr’s customers were having really bad experiences. Not just the people selling their products on the platform, but also people who were buying these services were sending a lot of complaints and angry reviews. The sellers on Wooplr were saying that the customer visits on their shops were much more than what Wooplr was showing. Buyers had complaints like the website was sending used products, packaging was too bad and material was cheap. There were also complaints of scam when buyers did not receive any refund or any response to queries.
With such a customer feedback, the website’s visit growth would have reduced only. Wooplr was not learning from these customer remarks.
3. High Competition
Since the customers have countervailing buying power and they are not receiving expected and timely services from the service providers. Some say that Wooplr was facing a lot of competition from other similar platforms lile GlowRoad and LimeRoad and also from other e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart in terms of their quality of services.
4. Unfruitful Merger and Acquisition Deals
Amidst all this, Wooplr was looking to merge with other similar platforms. Some sources also mentioned that and M&A deal would not have been significant. They were looking to explore the option of acquihire, where Wooplr would have been able to be an independent enterprise but at the same time would assist other enterprises which it would be attached to through the acquihire deal. Since they did not want to go for any acquisitions, founders planned to shut the company.
Cash crunch is one of the main reasons that a lot of startups fail. When they don’t get enough money from the investors, they tend to do job-cuts. Same happened with Wooplr. It wasn’t able to pay the suppliers, the debtors, etc. and ultimately it had to shut its operations. It is unfortunate when any company fails, and it can be a difficult time for everyone involved. There can be various reasons why a company fails. It could be due to a lack of market demand, inadequate funding, poor management decisions, competition, or other factors. It’s essential to analyze the reasons behind the failure to learn from the mistakes made and make necessary improvements for future ventures.