India’s fastest start-up to hit billion-dollar status is already profitable, says founder

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  • Its founder told CNBC that the Indian start-up Mensa brand turned profitable within just six months of launch.
  • Ananth Narayanan said its aggregator model works exclusively with profitable direct-to-consumer brands, acquiring and growing them domestically and abroad.
  • The six-month-old start-up said it plans to go public “down the road”.

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Its founder told CNBC that Indian start-up Mensa Brands has achieved billion-dollar unicorn status in just six months and, in a more rare feat, is already profitable.

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The direct-to-consumer brand aggregator this week became the fastest company in India’s history to close its $135 million Series B funding round at a $1 billion valuation.

The funding, led by Falcon Edge Capital, takes the total funds raised to $300 million in debt and equity.

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“Within the first six months of operation we are really profitable, and we intend to run this business in a profitable manner,” founder Ananth Narayanan told CNBC’s “Street Science Asia” on Thursday.

Growing Digital-First Brands

Mensa Brands operates by acquiring digital-first brands and scaling them domestically and abroad. It currently has 12 brands in three major categories: fashion, home & beauty and personal care.

“We’ve had a lot of success actually accelerating brands, which is why I think the value of the business is at its value,” Narayanan said.

Said Narayanan, who previously served as CEO of Indian fashion e-commerce company Myntra, aims to identify profitable brands with quality founders, loyal customers and between $1 million and $10 million in annual revenue.

“Over the past six months, through technology, through product, through digital marketing, we’ve been able to grow our brands north 100% year-over-year, and I think that’s important. ,” he added. ,

Within the next 12 months, Narayanan said the company plans to double its existing verticals by partnering with 30 more brands.

“These markets are too deep… [they’re] North of $120 billion in both offline and online revenue,” Narayanan said. “This focus helps us brand in a very different way, because we understand the space well, we understand the niche very well. Huh.”

IPO plans ‘down the road’

Mensha Brands grew rapidly as India’s start-up ecosystem flourished under digital adoption and better access to private capital.

According to estimates by Goldman Sachs, there are currently around 70 start-ups in India that fit the definition of unicorn. More than a third of them said they hit the $1 billion valuation marker in 2021.

Digital payments platform Paytm, one of India’s original technology start-ups, went public on Thursday in an initial public offering of $2.5 billion – the country’s largest. Its shares were down 24% in its first day of trading.

Narayanan of Mensa Brands said his company has no plans to tap the public markets at this early stage. However, he added that a public listing would likely be “down the road”, noting that the company has grand growth ambitions.

“Absolutely, down the road, the answer is we will be public,” Narayanan said. “We are the house of brands. We want to make what I would say is the modern age version of Unilever or the Inditex of digital first brands.”

— CNBC friend Roy Chowdhury


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