Co-Founder SeenIt, Ankita Sancheti Spills Her Life’s ‘Seen-It-All’ Moments
- IWB Post
- April 21, 2017
Well, all of us are guilty of stalking, pinning down, taking screenshots, and saving images of all the stuff that we love and see on the social media platforms. I know I have a dedicated folder on my phone that has everything from the shoes to the clothes, from bags to hair accessories that I have loved and saved in the hope to find something similar.
Here’s when SeenIt comes into the scene! Whether you want that Alia Bhatt’s dress, or the earrings that Deepika Padukone wore for some award function, all you have to do is post that photo on SeenIt, and the users will tell you where to shop that look.
Deemed as Quora of fashion in India, SeenIt was started in 2015, and the masterminds behind it are Ankita Sancheti Kumar, Saksham Karwal, and Vedanta Kumar.
In a hearty chat with Ankita, we talked about fashion, online shopping, and so much more.
Me: Tell us about the following ‘SeenIt’ experiences:
One entrepreneurial challenge as a woman:
Juggling motherhood and a career. I loved the way the Big Bang Theory addressed this issue in a recent episode – hit close to home
The craziest wardrobe moment:
Stepping out for a party all dressed up only to realize in the car that instead of heels I wore home slippers!
Every outfit has at least one food stain. Now I’ve learned to live with it.
The imbalance between work and personal life:
When my daughter decides that the best time to want mommy’s attention is during an important work call or meeting!
Someone who stood by you like a rock:
My father! (My husband comes in a close second)
Stupid in Love:
My daughter through and through!
Ankita: The first fashion query I posted on SeenIt was for a pair of Espadrilles. I had seen them on Pinterest and wanted it for a while but didn’t know what to do with the Image till SeenIt came about. I post about 2-3 queries a day on SeenIt at the least! I have a huge album of screenshots from Pinterest and Instagram that seems to only be growing. *giggles*
Apart from helping me find the products I love, SeenIt has definitely increased the amount I shop online. *chuckles*
Wondering what her husband and SeenIt co-founder, Vedanta would say about it. LOL!
Me: Which male and female celebrity’s wardrobe is the most looked for?
Ankita: In males, it’s the wardrobe of Ranbir Kapoor and David Beckham which is sought out for the most, but, lately, given the flavor of the month, Ryan Gosling has been the hot favorite on the site. And, as far as the female celebs are concerned, there are no points for guessing that Alia Bhatt’s wardrobe is always in demand. The Hadid sisters (Bella & Gigi) are also very popular on SeenIt.
Me: Are men also as active as females on SeenIt? Tell us the ratio.
Ankita: When we started out we wanted to test out our hypotheses and achieve product market fit, and for this, we knew that targeting women would be ideal as most fashion apps today are geared towards women.
However, we always knew that men want and need help looking great too. In fact, SeenIt came about when Vedanta and Saksham, our two other co-founders, couldn’t track down a pair of sunglasses they saw while watching James Bond.
Recently, we have introduced a personalized feed where you see specially curated posts based on your interests, and I must say that it has become very popular with the men.
Talking about the ratio of women to men using SeenIt,, it would be 70:30.
Buckle up, you guys!
Me: Who are the influencers and the fashion curators of SeenIt? How do you select them?
Ankita: The beauty of SeenIt is that any user can be an influencer or a fashion curator. For example, if you want to show off your OOTD you can start a yay or nay poll on the website and be an influencer, or you can help answer other people’s queries by tracking down the product on any e-commerce store.
Recently, we introduced user boards, which allow users to curate posts into collections. Based on the positive feedback that we have received, we are planning to allow users to make some of these collections public so that they can help other users get fashion inspiration from their collections.
Me: How do you ensure that every query gets attention and replies?
Ankita: We are fond of saying that SeenIt is a perfect blend of technology and humanity. We have a complex algorithm that sorts each question into buckets and based on the behaviors of the users it identifies which amongst them can act as an expert to answer particular questions.
Also, we offer this as a service to retailers allowing them to answer users’ queries with products they might have in their inventory. This system allows each question to be addressed by a wide set of users ensuring they get replies.
Me: Summer season is upon us! *sipping my ice tea loudly* After analyzing the queries, what do you think is on trend this summer?
Ankita: Trends I see lately on SeenIt are embroidered denim, ruffles in different forms, bell sleeves, shirt dresses.
*thinking – It’s time to go shopping*
Ankita: The SeenIt team is like an extended family to me. Most of the team has been with us since the beginning of the journey. We share a close bond, made even closer by a Saturday lunch ritual which includes everyone sharing their ‘good, bad and ugly’ of the week, from personal to work related issues. This allows us to understand each other in a more personal way leading to a more liberal flow of communication.
And, for the fashion guidelines, there’s just one thing I believe in and ask the team to follow and as clichéd as it might sound, but, it is this: Fashion is what you make it! Wear whatever makes you happy and comfortable. At work, no one is judging you! One of our co-founders is a big Disney fan and wears Mickey Mouse printed tees to work every day, while the other is in formals every day. *smiles*
Now, that’s what I call the right way of leadership!
Me: As it is a crowd-sourced platform, how do you ensure offense-free communication?
Ankita: Our users are our best source of ensuring offense-free communication. In the short time, we’ve built a very loyal and engaged user base. These users make sure to report behavior that is against the community guidelines. Apart from this, we also have a system of checks and balances on our tech side which screens posts for offensive images, words, and phrases (ever growing list) to make sure our community remains clean and positive.
Me: So, this question comes from our Ms. Fatasstic who’s ardently promoting body-love. ‘How has SeenIt helped in encouraging body-positivity?’
Ankita: So, one of the biggest lessons that our team has learned about body-positivity is to honestly and genuinely be non-judgmental. It definitely isn’t easy, but it takes time, effort and empathy. As an online community it is hard for people to know each other’s circumstances or backgrounds, but much like offensive content, we make sure to monitor conversations especially on ‘Yay-Nay’ posts and email or put bans on people who post offensive comments. We’ve had users email us asking us why their comments were deleted or they were banned from posting and after explaining our side, we’ve seen them be more encouraging and positive in the community. It’s not easy to do this at scale, but we treat these as baby steps towards a much larger goal.
Ankita: It has to be the sheer number of e-commerce stores that are out there today with great quality of products. We normally hear of the big 3-4 e-commerce stores, but SeenIt has introduced not only to me but to our entire team as well as our users, the entire universe of new Indian e-commerce stores that we never knew existed!
Me: How becoming a mom influenced your entrepreneurial vision?
Ankita: Well, I would say that more than entrepreneurial vision, becoming a mother has taught me to have a lot more patience and more than anything else, to celebrate every small victory!
Me: And, what’s coming next for SeenIt?
Ankita: Completely redesigned apps with a host of new features. We’ve also been in discussions with a few fashion influencers across industries for interesting partnerships, but for that, you’ll have to keep watching. Haha!
Seeing It! LOL!
Me: How do you keep your business talk away from your dinner table?
Ankita: Oh, with a lot of care and effort! When you work with your husband, it’s natural that most conversations revolve around your work. We make a conscious effort to leave work at the doorstep when we get home and spend time playing with our daughter and talking about things other than work! Although there are times when work related talk is inevitable, like the time when we were out for our anniversary dinner, and we got news that our work was noticed and written about by a big media house, at that point both the dinner and anniversary were forgotten!
Me: Share with us one personal experience that will encourage more women to join Tech start-ups.
Ankita: Today we have a team of 16 out of which 11 are women! I think there’s a lot of awareness out there today and we see more women joining the workforce, and not only tech startups but otherwise, also.
This is the third startup I have worked with/on, and it’s about finding your passion and a place that allows you to grow uninhibitedly and constantly learn. Personally, I’ve found that while life at startups can be more stressful at times, comes with a lot more responsibility, and requires you to wear multiple hats at the same time, it’s a situation that allows you to learn a lot about the organization you are working with and be an influence on the team around you. Plus, it helps you learn something new every day thereby evolving you as a person which is a fulfilling feeling.