Nykaa IPO: How Falguni Nayar proved it's never too late to start up

Topics Nykaa | startups in India | IPOs

Falguni Nayar
Falguni Nayar has donned several hats in her three-and-a-half-decade career. Born and raised in a Gujarati family in Mumbai, she began her career as a management consultant with AF Ferguson and Co in 1985 after graduating from IIM Ahmedabad. She then went on to work at Kotak Mahindra Group in various roles for 19 years before deciding to start her entrepreneurial adventure, risking her family funds. She had set up Kotak's international operations in New York and London. When she left Kotak in 2012, she was the Managing Director of its institutional equities and investment banking divisions.


To address the beauty needs of women, she started Nykaa the same year with no prior experience in retail, beauty or technology. She was just a few months shy of turning 50 then.


Her first and the only tweet, which has now become iconic, came on October 29, 2012, a day before Nykaa's website went live.

Beauty gets a new name , http://t.co/oQRZIKDb goes live tomorrow.

— falguni nayar (@falguninayar) October 29, 2012
Nine years later, today she is India's richest self-made woman with a net worth of $7 billion. Falguni Nayar and her family still own a 56.56% stake after the company's listing. With a market capitalisation of $14 billion, Nykaa has comfortably broken into the club of India's top 100 most valuable companies. At the 52nd spot, it is ahead of the likes of Godrej Consumer, Bharat Petroleum and IndiGo.


Building on her experience as a banker, Nayar has created a capital-efficient and asset-light business model. Before its $720-million IPO, Nykaa had raised only $100 million in equity.


It also stands as an outlier in the startup space as a profitable company. In FY21, it posted a profit of $8 million on a revenue of nearly $330 million. Startups that have recently gone public or are in the process to doing so, such as Zomato, Policybazaar, Mobikwik, Paytm, Oyo Rooms and Pharmeasy, are all loss-making.


As much as we celebrate Nykaa's listing, the ecosystem is not easy on women founders.


On the challenges that female founders face, Sairee Chahal, founder and CEO of women-only social network SHEROES, said:


  • Nykaa IPO is a 'super exception' in the startup scene
  • Women starting up late are 'written off'
  • Starting up requires a lot of 'cheerleading'
  • Could not apply to YCombinator for the longest time
  • Ecosystem not built for women or mothers

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