How a teacher’s son from a small town of Bihar built a company of millions of dollars and sold it

March 15, 2021 – New Delhi, India – Misbah Ashraf belongs to a small town called Biharsharif in Bihar. He has done his early education in Biharsharif from DAV Public School. He comes from a medium class family. Dad being a government teacher and mom being a housewife.

He has been living on his own since the first year of his college. He says that one road accident led him into bed for a long time and forced him to think about how the education system is broken and why college doesn’t make sense. Coming from a small family from Bihar, he couldn’t go with his decision to drop out of college education at that time. So, he decided to use his college time to use the power of the Internet to connect with people across the globe.

The lack of everyday expenses in his life forced him to start making money from Day 1 of his college using the internet. Everything from teaching students to selling T-shirts online to pay his bills. He, later on, went to drop out of college to build a payment venture Cibola with his friends from IIT D, who was his Kota batchmates. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out, and they had to shut down the company, but he got a lot of learnings around how to build a company.

This learning helped him join a US-based company called Spangle as Chief Growth Officer, which was later sold to Amazon. He also led product and growth for companies like Toymail. Pursuit among others from the US. This helped him to pay all of his family debt and loans.

In Aug 2017, he started Marsplay, a community commerce platform for fashion & beauty, with his decade-old friend Ayush Shukla. Marsplay has been recently acquired by Sequoia, and Lightspeed backed EkAnek for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition is intended to bring into EkAnek all Intellectual Properties of Marsplay as well Marsplay’s technical and content community team. Marsplay’s strengths as a community of fashion and beauty fans will be integrated into EkAnek’s product Foxy-an artist led commerce platform for beauty, grooming and personal care.

What makes Marsplay unique is a shopper’s ability to purchase everything they see in their feed with a single tap.

New Delhi based Marsplay was founded in 2017 by Misbah Ashraf and Ayush Shukla. In September 2019 Marsplay raised $860K till now by Venture Highway with participation from high profile executives like Alvin Tse, Shailesh Rao, Jonathan Lau, Shamir Karkal amongst others valuing the company around 4.2M USD.

From August 2019, Marsplay raised their pre-series A round and have since grown 20x crossing 1 Million monthly active users. It is available currently in more than 3 languages.

Marsplay founder, Misbah Ashraf further added “We are excited about this acquisition as this helps our community of more than 25000 creators to monetise much better. We started with this mission in our mind -Everybody has a story. Everybody is a creator. Everybody should monetise this. By integrating into Foxy community, we are taking a big jump into our dreams of helping our creators to monetise much better. We are hoping to see our community grow 10x in the next few months under the amazing founding team of Foxy who shares a common mission of using content and community to driving commerce in longer terms.”

EkAnek has raised more than 15M USD from top global VCs Sequoia Capital India, Matrix Partners, Lightspeed and Falcon Edge in less than a year.

“We are incredibly grateful to our early community members, team members, early investors who’ve been a part of the company for last 3 years. We can’t wait to see our community growing much faster along with Foxy team and let our creators pursue their dreams of being a full-time creator.” – added Ayush Shukla, Co-founder, Marsplay.

Prior to co-founding Marsplay, Ayush founded Digital Page Rank, a digital marketing agency aiding businesses in their growth online. Ayush is also an active angel and has backed multiple early stage startups like OckyPocky, CreatorOS among others.

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