Ananth Narayanan, former CEO of Myntra and most recently the co-founder and CEO of Medlife, announced that his new venture — Mensa Brands — has raised $50 million in a Series A round.
The round was led by Accel Partners, Falcon Edge Capital, Norwest Venture Partners as well as prominent angel investors including Kunal Shah, Mukesh Bansal, Rahul Mehta of DST Global and Scott Shleifer of Tiger Global. Additionally, debt financing facilities from Alteria Capital and InnoVen Capital are also secured.
The new venture aims to create a technology-led ‘House of Brands’ built for e-commerce. Its vision is to partner and invest in digital-first brands with revenues of ₹10 – 70 crore per annum which are high growth and EBITDA profitable in order to scale them exponentially. Over the next three years, Mensa plans to acquire 50-plus brands across categories including home, garden, apparel, personal care and beauty that are currently selling on Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Ajio and Nykaa.
“Mensa means ‘constellation’ in the ancient Greek language signifying Mensa Brands’ aspiration to create a cluster of $50 mn - $100 million star brands” said Narayanan, founder and CEO, Mensa Brands, who has also served as a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company.
“Scaling digital brands from India is a large opportunity. We will buy brands in high growth categories with high growth margins, many of which can be taken global. I am incredibly excited about partnering with terrific founders and helping scale their brands in India and globally by bringing in technology, product and e-commerce expertise. Having seen this first hand at Myntra and Medlife, we know the effort it takes to scale a brand digitally. Founders are excited to partner with us because they fundamentally believe their brand can grow better with us than on their own. Second, because we buy a majority of their company upfront they get a financial exit and continue to remain vested for the remaining minority, and over time they can make more money as the brand grows. We will be trustees of these digital-first brands which will sell across marketplaces, B2C sites and also go global” Narayanan told BusinessLine .
Modelled on Thrasio
Mensa’s founding team currently has a combined experience of over 60 years in Indian and global e-commerce. Mensa will help these brands improve cataloguing, digital marketing, work on the brands’ product selection itself, delivery experience, inventory management etc. Narayanan said that he is trying to build the Indian version of Thrasio. “Thrasio finds top-reviewed, bestselling brands on Amazon and buys the brands from the small business owners and helps scale those brands exponentially. They are also the fastest company to get to a billion dollar revenue and a multi-billion dollar valuation in the US,” he said.
Subrata Mitra, Partner at Accel Partners said, “We're excited to partner with Ananth and the team at Mensa. Not only are they truly strategic and high calibre, but also have chosen a problem of brand aggregation that we believe has the right tailwinds. With digital acceleration of commerce globally, this model would be additive to the brand owners, the platforms and the consumers and should thus scale rapidly.”