Home >Companies >People >Our brands are building from India to global: Ananth Narayanan

BENGALURU : Former Myntra and Medlife chief’s Tharasio-like venture Mensa Brands is off to a quick start as competition in the space heats up. Since its launch in May,  Mensa Brands has already acquired close to 10 small brands and looks to end up with 50 in the next 2-3 years. 

The company is also expected to be in talks with new investors for fresh funds after raising close to $88 million from the likes of Accel Partners, Falcon Edge Capital, Norwest Venture Partners. 

In an interview with Mint, Mensa Brands’ founder Narayanan speaks about the investment thesis behind buying these brands, key parameters it's focusing on, international expansion and how Mensa plans to create differentiation in the space. 

Edited excerpts:  

What is the thesis that you are taking while investing in these brands? 

At Mensa, we look for three things. First is the customer love, which we measure through user reviews, repeat and retention rates, while also testing the product quality ourselves. Second, is the founder quality. We look for founders who have either built consumer brands before or have the hunger to make their brands household names. Last is our joint belief to scale these brands almost ten fold.  

We are usually investing for a controlling (more than 51%) stake in these brands, which have garnered revenues between $1 million to $10 million. We continue to acquire only those brands which are profitable or at least which are earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) positive.  

How many brands does Mensa look to acquire over the coming year? 

Since launch, we have been acquiring almost two brands per month, and the goal is to acquire close to 50 brands over the next two to three years. So we are ahead of our initial plan. 

We are currently investing in these brands at almost five to six fold of their EBITDA positivity.

Presently, most of Mensa’s brands are focusing on the 18-40 age segment. 60% of those customers are women and 40% are men, with a mix of Tier 1 and 2 cities.   

During the launch, there was also a focus on taking these brands globally. What are you planning with regards to that? 

After coming to the fold (under Mensa brands), we have taken almost three of our ten brands global.  We are also actively exploring partnerships with global e-commerce players to retail these brands. However, it is too soon to speak about these partnerships.  We are focused on building global brands from India. 

We feel that almost all our brands have the potential to go global and we will be exploring an e-commerce-led digital strategy with our partnerships. Our brands are building from India to global. 

Our brands have roughly reached a growth rate of 100%, after being acquired by Mensa. 

What are the challenges you see in this space, especially with it being a nascent industry? 

As an entrepreneur you see more opportunities than challenges. For building a brand in India, you have to go from (customer) ‘push to pull’ which can only be achieved with the right marketing and skills. 

Further, India is going to be a multi-platform market. This means that building the right data and technology backend becomes imperative, which allows brands to growth hack and leverage artificial intelligence and data intelligence. Also, consumer brands need to get continued access to the right amount of capital.

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