Founder of the fresh Lithuanian unicorn Vinted, Milda Mitkute, told the story of Vinted at sTARTUp Day 2020, the biggest business festival of the Baltics.
Mitkute used to have zero love for technology and huge love for clothes, an addiction even. At an afterparty in 2008, she met a technology geek and complained to him that she had a real problem of not being able to say no to a purchase. The pair connected and Vinted was born.
Without money for marketing they asked friends to share the news of an online marketplace for selling, buying and swapping secondhand clothing by word-of-mouth. Two hours after the official launch people were visiting their page and the biggest TV channel in Lithuania already asked for an interview.
Despite the apparent success, the founders still saw it as a hobby for 2,5 years. Everything changed after the team met an investor, who asked them if they are satisfied with where the comapny is going. It was the first time when they asked themselves what their vision was. Should they close it or take it to the next stage. So they decided to try to make a business out of it.
They hired their first employee, a customer service person. In 2019 Vinted’s employee count is 301 and in 2020 the aim is to reach 600 employees. Vinted already has more than 30 million customers.
How Vinted changed her life
„Vinted gave me confidence to dream big,“ Mitkute said. The journey had its ups and downs but in the end was very rewarding. If you have a vision you just need to follow it, Mitkute added. „Vinted taught me how to love challenges,“ she added. Mitkute also talked about the boundaries we create in our mind and getting over them with always asking, why we are doing something.
Vinted helped Mitkute to beat her ego. The company needed a person in charge who would know about strategies and team management. Mitkute stopped and asked if it was good for the company if she pretended that she was the best manager for the company. So they started hiring more qualified people. „For Vinted it was the best decision ever,“ she noted.
„Vinted taught me to hear myself,“ Mitkute added. Normally we are targeted at hearing others, which leaves us little room for hearing ourselves. Being a leader comes with a price, she said, because not everyone will be happy with you.
Vinted taught Mitkute to make a choice between becoming an expert or a leader. For a very long time Mitkute tried to be both, she said, but admitted that leadership is a full time job, if you want to be more than just average.
To conclude, Mitkute encouraged to embrace failures, because these are the most precious that we get.
Vinted was founded in 2008 by Milda Mitkute and Justas Janauskas. Since their launch in the United States, Accel partners, Burda Principal Investments and Insight Venture Partners have invested in the company.
Milda Mitkute was a keynote speaker at sTARTUp Day on January 29-31 in Tartu, the biggest business festival in the Baltics, with 4300 participants from 65 countries.