Ananth Narayanan’s Mensa Brands Fastest Among Indian Startups To Become A Unicorn
Mensa Brands, which acquires stakes in private labels sold on online platforms including Amazon India and Walmart-owned Flipkart, has turned a unicorn after its latest funding round.
The Bengaluru-based firm, building a ‘house of brands’, has raised $135 million (around Rs 1,005 crore) in a fresh round led by Alpha Wave Ventures, an investment arm of Falcon Edge Capital, according to its statement. Prosus Ventures (Naspers), too, invested in Mensa.
Existing investors such as Accel Partners, Norwest Venture Partners and Tiger Global Management also participated, catapulting the company into the ranks of startups with a valuation of $1 billion (around Rs 7,447 crore) or more.
After the latest investment, total fundraise (equity and debt) in just six months stood at $300 million (Rs 2,234 crore).
Mensa was founded in May 2021 by Ananth Narayanan, former chief executive officer at Myntra, as he aimed to tap the opportunities in brands that sell on e-commerce platforms, thus replicating the success of U.S.-based Thrasio in India. The idea is to partner and invest in digital-first brands across fashion and apparel, home and garden, beauty and personal care and food segments and scale them exponentially.
Others such as GlobalBees, Bzaar, G.O.A.T. Brand Labs and 10Club, too, have forayed into this segment.
“Our deep focus on technology and digital brand building, as well as our people, has allowed us to grow 3X of our initial plan and we at Mensa Brands are primed to build global breakout brands from India,” Narayanan said in the statement. “More than 50% of our brands are led by women founders and that Mensa supports small- and medium-sized businesses across the country.”
Mensa is Narayanan’s second entrepreneurial plunge. After leaving the online fashion portal, he had joined Medlife as co-founder and CEO in 2019. He stepped down earlier this year after the online pharmacy startup’s acquisition by rival PharmEasy.
Unlike Narayanan’s previous stints, Mensa, he said, is already profitable. The company aims to use the fresh funds to continue partnering founding teams of customer-loved brands and help them become household names, he said. A part of the investment will also go in hiring across functions and continue building out its tech platform and other growth capabilities.
To date, Mensa has partnered 12 brands, most of which are growing at 100% year-on-year since their integration.
“The speed and quality of execution has been impressive, and we are delighted to continue to back Mensa as it becomes the fastest unicorn in Asia,” Niren Shah, managing director and head of Norwest Venture Partners India, said.