Milda Mitkute, founder of Vinted: “Being a leader and being an expert are two different things”

Milda Mitkute is the co-founder of the online marketplace Vinted, where people sell and buy second-hand clothes. With more than 13+ million users it has become a worldwide phenomenon. Mitkute explained at sTARTUp Day 2020 how she developed her own shopping addiction into a successful startup.
  • Vinted is Lithuania´s first tech unicorn after raising 128€ million.

  • World biggest second-hand clothing marketplace

  • More than 25 million users

  • Available in 11 countries

This article was written by Helena Vaht.

“Years ago I had a moment when I understood that I had an addiction. Shopping addiction. I had over 100 clothing pieces that I did not use, eventually, I figured out how to cure my obsession with clothes, but I did not know anything about technology or how to build online platforms,” explained Vinted co-founder Milda Mitkute.

She found a solution when she met Justas Janauskas, who was a technology enthusiast. “He liked my idea and we combined enthusiastic shopaholic and tech-savvy,” said Mitkute.

Mitkute and Janauskas collaborated and opened the Vinted platform in 2008, but they had a problem. They did not have any marketing money to promote their brand. “I emailed my friends if they could share news about the project. Two hours after launching, we got requests for radio and media interviews. Numbers grew from minute to minute. I was amazed,” commented Mitkute.

At first, Vinted was just a hobby to Mitkute and Janauskas. “We did not get any profit from it. After two years we saw the potential of growing into international business. Everything changed when an investor contacted us and asked if we do not want to grow Vinted into a global movement.

The breaking point was when we discussed if we should close the Vinted platform or take it to the next level. We decided to take it to the next level and hired our first customer support specialist. Now we have 25+ million users and 350 workers.

Mitkute said that Vinted gave her the confidence to dream big. “There is Milda before Vinted and Milda after Vinted. Developing Vinted was a hard, but rewarding journey. Before doing my own company, I wanted to always impress people and be better. Vinted showed me how to love challenges.”

Mitkute made a rule to ask herself “Why?” before giving up and not succeeding. “I am happy that I did not give up. Even small steps can give an impact on the big plan. Also, I realized that Vinted helped me to beat my ego.

I stopped pretending that I know absolutely everything and hired more qualified people than I am. Being a leader and being an expert are two different things.

Being a leader has a price – not everyone is always happy what you do”. You should decide if you want to be a leader or an expert. If you want to be both, you are being average in both. If you want to master anything, you need to quit the other thing. Leadership is a full-time job.”

“And always remember – do not be afraid of failing, failers have the most precious experience and lessons,” concluded Mitkute.


sTARTUp Day is organized by the University of Tartu, Tartu city, .Contriber, Tartu Science Park, Tartu Centre of Creative Industries, Tartu Biotechnology Park, Tartu Business Advisory Services, Ole Rohkem, and Swedbank. Altogether it took a team of 200 people to organize sTARTUp Day.

sTARTUp Day is sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund, Enterprise Estonia (EAS), Visit Estonia and Startup Estonia.

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