Winner of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021 award
Breaking barriers to build a market-leading brand
It is not often that an investment banker at the top of her profession decides to quit a terrific job and start a completely unrelated business from scratch. But in 2012 that is what Falguni Nayar, then the Managing Director of Kotak Mahindra Capital’s institutional equities and investment banking divisions, decided to do. She was 49 when she bid adieu to the world of high finance to start up Nykaa, an e-commerce platform to sell beauty products in 2012.
Today, Nykaa’s portfolio includes over 2,600 Indian and global beauty and wellness brands. It is one of the rare profitable start-ups in the country, has a strong omni-channel presence, and has recently raised fresh capital for expansion through a blockbuster IPO.
The journey was not easy. When Falguni set up Nykaa, many, including the investors she approached, told her that people will not buy beauty products online. It was a nascent, largely unorganized segment, but Falguni built Nykaa to give confidence to every Indian woman to glam up for herself – to be the Nykaa (protagonist) of her own life.With hardly any staff, she handled every bit of the operations inthe initial days, often staying up till 3 a.m. at night to ensure that every order was being executed properly.
The company focused on three Cs – Curation (inventory-led business to ensure customers get authentic products), Content (educating customers on beauty and make up through blogs and video tutorials) and Convenience (making sure customers get a hasslefree experience). With the right digital marketing and tie-ups with Bollywood celebs including Katrina Kaif, Nykaa soon became a sought-after brand. Unlike many other digital e-commerce players, Omni-channel was not an afterthought for Nayar – she ensured that Nykaa outlets were visible in prime retail locations, building up her brand smartly along the way.
Nyakaa today also sells beauty products under private labels such as Nykaa Cosmetics, Nykaa Naturals, Dot and Key, and Kay Beauty by Katrina. The company has diversified to Nykaa Man, Nykaa Fashion, SuperStore by Nykaa, and Nykaa PRO, and has about 80 stores across the country.
Post IPO in November 2021 which was oversubscribed by 81 times, Falguni has become one of the wealthiest self-made women in India and is among the top 20 richest people in the country. Between FY19 and FY21, Nykaa’s revenue grew at a CAGR of 45.1%.
With no prior entrepreneurial experience and no knowledge of retail and technology, Falguni carved her unique success story, very much like what her brand represents.