Industry Disruptor Mensa Brands

Businesspeople shaking hands.

The quick rise of Mensa Brands as the latest and youngest Indian unicorn startup has the business world wondering how they got there. Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn valuable insights from the Mensa Brands story to apply to their own businesses.

We will take an in-depth look at how the company started, its strategies for success, and what the future holds for them.

The Beginning

Understanding who Mensa Brands is and how it achieved huge and immediate success means digging into the past of founder Ananth Narayanan. The former CEO of Myntra, an Indian fashion ecommerce company, started Mensa Brands in May of 2021 and within six months was able to reach a billion-dollar valuation. 

Before becoming CEO of Myntra, Narayanan was working at McKinsey and was able to reach the position of managing partner. His experience as a managing consultant to various businesses became a huge asset in acquiring and growing digital global brands.

The Strategy for Mensa Brands

When Mensa Brands started, the concept of growing a “house of brands” already existed in the market. Western company Thrasio was successfully implementing the strategy for America-based companies which is what gave Narayanan the idea of Mensa. 

The strategy for Narayanan was to take local Indian brands that were 100% digital and use a combination of technology, product, and digital marketing to help them scale domestically and overseas. 

Narayana was able to grow so quickly by focusing on companies Mensa Brands was already familiar with and had experience improving. Mensa Brands focused on the beauty, fashion, and personal care niches and ended up with 12 digital brands under their care.

Reaching Unicorn Status

The clear focus and goals Mensa Brands set allowed them to achieve enough interest to raise over $135 million in their latest funding round, helping them reach the billion-dollar evaluation mark and becoming a full-fledged startup unicorn.

Narayanan plans to use the funding as a way to grow its portfolio while also hiring across functions. The company has its eyes on acquiring 20 more digital global brands in India.

The impressive part of Mensa Brands’ growth is how they’ve been able to increase revenue for digital Indian brands. Villain, a fragrance brand, was able to double its rate of growth after being acquired by Mensa. 

D2C saree brand Karagiri has experienced a 100% growth rate since becoming part of the Mensa Brands portfolio. All these companies have been helped by the extensive knowledge from Mensa Brands on digital marketing and branding. 

Six of the brands in the Mensa portfolio have already started selling in the US, UK, and Germany. Mensa’s goal is to have 10 of their companies worth $100 million within the next three to four years.

Mensa Brands’ Growth and Global Influence

The immense growth of Mensa Brands over such a short period of time has separated the company from many other startups. Part of the growth can be owed to the burgeoning Indian startup ecosystem. 

Digital adoption is becoming more commonplace in the country, and they now have more access to private funding than they have had previously. There are about 70 different startups in India that could be classified as unicorns, according to Goldman Sachs.

Rise in Competition

The rapid rise of Mensa Brands has caused the original house of brands creator to start eyeing the Indian Market. 

Thrasio, based in New York, raised over $1 billion in order to enter the Indian market directly. Thrasio implements a similar strategy to Mensa Brands by acquiring smaller brands and merchants on the Amazon Marketplace and helping them scale both domestically and internationally. 

They’ve been able to gather over 100 different sellers and FBA merchants on Amazon and are currently valued at $500 billion. 

With a new competitor in the Indian market, Mensa Brands will now have to find ways to attract digital brands away from their competitors in order to keep the massive growth going.

Plans for IPO

Now that Mensa has proven it can make a big impact not only in the Indian market but across the globe, future plans for an IPO are part of the conversation for the young company. 

In November of 2021, Indian company Paytm saw the largest IPO offering in the history of the company at $2.5 billion. The company is a digital payment platform, and with the growth of digital adoption by Indian citizens, a secure online payment system was desperately needed. 

The only cause for consideration for Mensa Brands is the 24% drop in share value Paytm experienced on the maiden day of trading. 

Even though Mensa is primed for entering the public market, they aren’t quite pulling the trigger yet. Narayanan does plan on taking the company public at some point in order to create what he calls a “modern age version of a Unilever or an Inditex of digital-first brands.”

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