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Beauty start-up turns career banker into India’s newest billionaire

Contemporary entrepreneurship is usually pushed by the younger: tech-savvy disrupters with grand visions, unshakeable self-belief and fewer to lose if their concepts don’t pan out.

So veteran funding banker Falguni Nayar was considerably anxious again in 2012, when, at age 49, she resigned from a senior job at certainly one of India’s most profitable non-public banks to begin her personal on-line magnificence retailer Nykaa.

“Entrepreneurship at a young age is OK — there is no downside if it doesn’t succeed,” Nayar instructed the Financial Times. “I was constantly thinking: how much I am giving up to start this — what if it doesn’t work?”

She needn’t have anxious: this month, Nykaa’s company mum or dad, FSN E-Commerce Ventures, raised $722m in an preliminary public providing valuing the corporate at about $7.4bn. On its first day of buying and selling on the Bombay Stock Exchange, the share value nearly doubled, sending the valuation to nearly $13bn.

Nayar, whose household collectively owns a 52 per cent stake in Nykaa, was propelled to a brand new standing as India’s wealthiest self-made feminine entrepreneur — proof, if it had been wanted, that maturity, and a thick contact e book of a few of India’s wealthiest people, are useful property to any start-up enterprise.

“The experience I had in my previous career helped me steward the ship very well,” she stated.

Born Falguni Mehta in 1963, Nayar’s impulse in direction of motion goes again to her Mumbai childhood, when her father ran his personal bearings manufacturing unit, and made few distinctions between his daughter and his son.

“My father treated me as an equal,” she stated. “He did not allow me to have a mindset that ‘girls cannot do this’. It was the way I was raised that made me who I am. I do not accept that girls need to deal with their lives differently.”

Branded cosmetics at a Nykaa store in New Delhi
Nykaa has 85 shops in 40 Indian cities, the place prospects can see and take a look at beauty and sweetness merchandise earlier than they purchase © Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg

She attended the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad — the nation’s prime enterprise college — the place she was certainly one of simply 9 ladies in a category of 150 college students. She later married an IIM modern, Sanjay, who went on to work for Citigroup in London, New York and at last as its chief govt for India and South Asia operations, earlier than becoming a member of non-public fairness group KKR in Mumbai in 2009.

Though Nayar admits to entrepreneurial inclinations whilst a younger graduate, she opted for the safety of a job, initially as a administration advisor, as she sought to steadiness her career ambitions along with her function as a spouse, after which because the mom of twins.

“Juggle is a very important word for women,” she stated. “I don’t try to have a balanced life all the time. There are times when I lean in more towards work, and there are times when I will lean more towards family responsibilities.”

After eight years in consulting, Nayar joined monetary companies group Kotak Mahindra in 1993, establishing its abroad subsidiaries in London after which New York as she adopted her husband’s postings. On the household’s return to India in 2001, she led Kotak’s institutional equities companies, concerned in a lot of India’s early IPOs.

“What I saw was that somehow entrepreneurs had total conviction in what they were doing,” she stated. “They saw an opportunity that no one else saw.”

By 2008, Nayar had sensed her personal potential alternative — in India’s extremely fragmented cosmetics and sweetness merchandise retail market, which was dominated by tiny mom-and-pop retailers, typically known as “variety stores’”, that additionally bought gadgets comparable to security pins and hair bands.

Nykaa products
Nayar needs to consolidate Nykaa’s place as the wonder retailer of option to youthful generations

After her kids left for faculty overseas, that craving to “start something from scratch” grew stronger, although it nonetheless took greater than three years to make a transfer from Kotak.

“It’s very hard to quit a very good job, but I finally managed to get the courage and quit in 2012,” she stated, including that she began engaged on the corporate, from her father’s previous workplace, the very subsequent day.

Initial funding for Nykaa, which was launched in October 2012, got here from the household’s private financial savings from years in banking and finance, and Nayar didn’t take cash from different traders till 2014.

She was clear that her firm needs to be a retail enterprise with a inventory of merchandise, not simply an ecommerce platform the place patrons and sellers can transact, as Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart have needed to construction themselves in India.

Beside a slick website and app, Nykaa additionally has 85 shops in 40 Indian cities, the place prospects can see and take a look at beauty and sweetness merchandise earlier than they purchase.

Because India restricts overseas funding in multi-brand retail, Nayar has all the time needed to be cautious in fundraising. At a time when SoftBank and different overseas traders had been pouring cash into Indian start-ups, Nayak’s first traders had been rich Indians each inside India and abroad, although Henry Kravis, the co-founder of personal fairness group KKR, additionally owns 1.1 per cent.

After the blockbuster IPO, India’s newest billionaire has no plans to relaxation on her laurels. Nayar and her twins, Anchit and Adwaita, who’re 31 and each have prime roles on the firm, are working to consolidate its place as the wonder retailer of option to youthful generations.

“The investors have put their trust in us and are expecting us to grow at a very fast pace,” Nayar stated.

She additionally hopes the success of Nykaa, a reputation derived from a Sanskrit phrase which means actress or heroine, will encourage different ladies.

For all her personal doubts, she admits she was all the time propelled ahead by her lack of worry.

“I’m an adventure seeker at heart and I don’t see the risk,” she stated. “I’ll be the weakest swimmer in my family and the first to jump in the water.”

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