FIRST LADY
Business Today|December 26, 2021
By taking her company public, Nykaa’s Falguni Nayar has become the country’s wealthiest self-made woman entrepreneur. What next?
DILASHA SETH AND SMITA TRIPATHI

THE NYKAA SHOW

The firm has grown from strength to strength

$722 MILLION Amount raised by Nykaa in its IPO

84 Total operational physical stores of Nykaa as on September 30

11 MILLION Nykaa’s consumer base as on March 31

SOURCE: NYKAA’S Q2 RESULT, NYKAA DRHP

ON NOVEMBER 10, small-time retail investor Natasha Aggarwal opened a bottle of bubbly at around 11 am. Though a bit early in the day, the occasion called for a celebration. Nykaa, the advertising professional’s go-to e-commerce site for all beauty needs, had made a blockbuster debut on the stock exchange. The stock soared 89 per cent to ₹2,129. Aggarwal, who had been allotted “a decent number of shares” at the IPO price of ₹1,125, was celebrating her monetary gains.

She raised a toast to Falguni Nayar, the 58-year-old Founder and CEO of Nykaa, who made it possible for many like her to reap the benefits as both a customer and an investor in the company. As Nykaa’s valuation soared to nearly $13 billion, Nayar became India’s wealthiest self-made woman entrepreneur with a net worth of nearly $7.4 billion. “She is an inspiration,” cheered Aggarwal.

But it took some chutzpah.

Nayar turned entrepreneur in 2012, when she was touching 50—roughly double the age of the average entrepreneur today who has little to lose. Nayar, on the other hand, had just resigned as MD of Kotak Mahindra Capital, her last post in an 18-year investment banking career at Kotak Mahindra Bank.

But she had done her research and went about her new venture post haste. “I left Kotak on March 31 and on April 1, I was in the process of incorporating the company,” says Nayar. “A lot of people said that since I had quit work after so long, I should take a break. But I just wanted to go ahead.” A month later, she and three employees started working out of her father’s old office in Mumbai’s Lower Parel. Nykaa’s website went live that October and became fully operational the following January.

Nayar had seen an opportunity in India’s fragmented beauty and cosmetics retail market that was dominated by mom-and-pop stores. “I had been thinking about it and what appealed to me was being a multi-brand retailer in beauty and also using digital and technology,” says Nayar. There was also a clear focus on how to do business. “At that time, the debate used to be on the art of retailing and own brands. But most importantly, the decision to not do discounting of products unless incentives came from the brands; that is different,” says her husband Sanjay Nayar.

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