Falguni Nayar, the founder of Nykaa, was fifty years old and had worked as an investment banker for approximately twenty years when she decided to start her own company in 2012. She has listed her startup at a valuation higher than some of India’s largest legacy enterprises nearly a decade later.
She has become India’s wealthiest self-made woman, is among the country’s top 20 wealthiest persons, and is worth more than her counterparts who have either listed or are about to list their firms. (With the exception of Savitri Jindal, India’s richest woman, and Mobikwik creator Upasana Taku, all of these personalities are men.)
But, how did she get there? Well, on her own.
Nykaa was founded wholly by Falguni Nayar and her husband Sanjay Nayar, the chairman of India’s largest private equity firm, KKR & Co. According to a 2017 interview, the focus was on developing an inventory-driven firm. “I didn’t want to raise money, so the company ran on family cash for two years.” Nayar had stated at the time, “I wanted to make the metrics happen.” “By the time I went to investors, we had a lot of momentum.” My husband and I both worked in banking, so we had access. After only five rounds of investment, the company became a unicorn in March 2020, with only three of those rounds involving institutional investors. Nykaa is also profitable, which is unusual for an Indian firm.
Days before Nykaa
Nayar spent most of her career at Kotak Mahindra Capital Co., after graduating from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. She was the managing director and head of its institutional equities unit when she left in 2012.
Her father, who was born and bred in Gujarat, owned a modest bearings company with the help of her mother. The topic of conversation in the house was investments, the stock market, and trade. In a 2017 interview, she added, “Plus, I’m Gujarati.” It appeared like entrepreneurship was in her blood.
The first year of any business is a honeymoon period—simple, it’s because you’re just designing. The following year, when the company begins to scale up, is critical, according to Nayar in a 2017 interview. “The person in charge of operations quit because he couldn’t handle 30 orders each day.” “At the time, we had to learn how to dispatch packages and set up an enterprise resource planning system,” she explained.
Nykaa is now one of India’s few profitable retailers. It made a net profit of Rs 61.96 crore in the fiscal year ended March 31, up from a deficit of Rs 16.34 crore the previous year. In FY21, revenue increased by 38% year-on-year to Rs 2,453 crore.
In the post-pandemic era, Tier II and III cities are driving growth. Non-metros have witnessed a stronger comeback in demand than metros, according to a source familiar with the firm’s data. Tier-II and III cities provided 64 percent of income in FY21, up to 59 per cent in FY20, according to Nykaa’s DRHP. During the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak last year, “being an omnichannel store helped us,” Nayar said. “We now have 70 locations in 30 cities across the United States. We essentially redesigned our website to offer hyperlocal deliveries for necessary items, but only from our stores.”
From selling third-party beauty items to developing its own brands and entering the fashion industry, the company has expanded its offerings. Fashion currently accounts for 20% of total sales. While the company’s private labels are expanding, they are still tiny.
Nykaa’s gross merchandise value (GMV)—the total worth of items sold over a certain period of time—increased by more than 50% to about Rs 4,046 crore in the fiscal year ending March 31.
The initial public offering (IPO) and subsequent listing
On October 28, FSN E-Commerce Ventures, the parent company of India’s largest cosmetics atelier Nykaa, made an initial public offering (IPO) to generate up to Rs 5,352 crore by selling shares at a price range of Rs 1,085-1,125 per share. The issue was roughly 82 times subscribed to.
Nykaa floated at about 80% premium on Wednesday and concluded the day at Rs 2,206.70, 96.15 per cent more than its issue price—equivalent to a market capitalization of Rs 1,04,360.85 crore on day one. The net worth of the Nayar family is more than half of that.
“At the age of 50, I established Nykaa with no prior experience.” At the opening bell, Nayar said, “I hope the Nykaa journey can inspire each of you to be the Nykaa of your life.”