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India bright on radar of global players: Nykaa Founder Falguni Nayar

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Nayar sees a lot of headroom for growth in India’s beauty, personal care and fashion business and is optimistic about the future

New Delhi: India is beeping on the radar of global players with strong drivers like young, aspiring population, rising income levels, and resilient infrastructure and digital networks, Nykaa founder and CEO Falguni Nayar said on Monday, adding she is extremely “optimistic” and “confident” about the future.

In an exclusive interview with PTI, the self-made billionaire also said the recent corporate governance lapses in some well-known startups will lead to greater scrutiny by investors (in the ecosystem), and asserted that a governance agenda has to be set out very early in an entrepreneurial journey.

She emphasised that any compromise on governance just because a company is growing or chasing size and scale cannot be justified.

Nykaa, she added, has been very strong on governance.

Nayar – the top boss at omnichannel beauty and fashion retailer Nykaa – said her entrepreneurial journey – which started at the age of almost 50 – has been “amazing” and advised aspiring entrepreneurs to be driven by their dreams and stay invested in their venture to create sustainable value over a long term.

Nayar sees a lot of headroom for growth in India’s beauty, personal care and fashion business and is optimistic about the future.

“At one point we say it is a long-term opportunity. It is evident from how the income levels have lifted throughout our country, that growth and infrastructure in the country are visible…Young people are energised with what they can do,” she said adding government policies too have been supportive and acted as enablers for overall growth.

According to her, as all these essential ingredients – rising consumption, entrepreneurship, physical and digital infrastructure — come together, India is being noticed by global players.

“What Nykaa has seen is that most of the global beauty company CEOs have visited us in recent times… it has been amazing to see how the global CEOs and chairmen of top ten beauty companies have all been in our country wanting to do more. That is what is telling us that the world has an interest in working with India. And the future is bright,” she said.

She advised entrepreneurs to brace for the long run and be energised by their dream of building a strong venture.

“I have always told entrepreneurs `love what you do’….the journeys have to be long…I have always said more than 10 years-plus…to be able to reach your destination…and sustainable valuable,” she said.

Nayar said the rising incomes and economic growth augur well for the beauty and fashion business in India. She added that consumption in these categories will only rise, going forward.

“In beauty and fashion, the per capita consumption in India is so low that it has to be going up, multifold, with new gains in income that we are seeing. We have seen this journey in China too. India is today where China was 15-16 years ago. And it just went through a consumption boom in all categories, particularly the beauty and fashion segments. So we are very confident that it is going to be repeated in India,” she said.

Nayar who is attending the ongoing `Startup Mahakumbh’ said the mega-event is an “amazing showcase” of India’s innovation, to the younger generation.

“The organisers have been able to bring together young innovators from many industries and it will be a delight for visitors to see the kind of innovation sweeping India,” she said.

The start-up ecosystem in India has always focused on consumers and solving their needs, through innovation.

“That is how they brought solutions that allowed new industries to flourish…today we see that the size and scale of startups is immense. Most of the startup companies have millions of customers,” she said.

Entrepreneurship, she said, is about risk-taking and being resilient through the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey.

“So sometimes emotion is positive but the journey is mixed and you have to be able to go through ups and downs of the journey and have that energy each day to move forward and reach your destination,” she said.

On the cases of corporate governance and regulatory lapses in the Indian startup ecosystem, Nayar emphasised that governance has to be at the core of operations.

“I think the companies also will learn their lesson that there cannot be compromises on governance…compromising on governance, because you’re growing or because you’re going after size and scale…that is not a justification for not following the rules. If the industry has rules laid out, then the companies have to follow them,” she said.

Nayar said that in today’s phygital (physical plus digital) world- understanding consumer patterns, behaviours and preferences is paramount to solving consumer concerns.

“When you peel back the onion on why consumers shop across e-commerce marketplaces & quick commerce vs offline stores- their motivations become clear,” she said at Startup Mahakumbh 2024.

D2C (direct-to-customer) brands have the advantage of being quick-to-market and agile to adapt to changing trends – all while solving real consumer problems, she said.

“Of the new D2C brands over the last few years – 44 per cent have emerged in fashion & beauty,” she said.

As the world’s 5th largest economy, set to become the 3rd largest by 2030, she said the Indian economy is a canvas of boundless opportunities, and “the startup world is its vibrant palette, painting the landscape with bold strokes of creativity and ingenuity”.

The seasoned entrepreneur said that the country is witnessing an unprecedented surge in entrepreneurial activity, fueled by a generation of dreamers and doers who dare to challenge the status quo.

Nayar said, “We stand at the precipice of a new era in the Indian economy, one driven by innovation, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of entrepreneurship”.

“When you compare India to our counterparts, India is where China was 15 years ago. It is at this critical juncture that we notice a shift in consumption behaviour. Given the S curve of the expected increase in per capita income from $2500 today to $5500 by 2030 – similar to China’s trends, we anticipate the BPC (beauty and personal care) per capita spend to go from $15 today to $50 by 2030. As a reference, Nykaa’s BPC spend is currently $80 vs the country’s average BPC spend of $15.”

Advising young startups and aspiring entrepreneurs, she said that one should remember that success is not measured solely by profit margins or market share. “It is measured by the lives you touch, the communities you uplift, and the legacy you leave behind. Let us embrace the spirit of innovation, collaboration, and inclusivity that defines our nation’s entrepreneurial landscape”.

Nykaa began with a dream to enable consumers to step into the spotlights of their lives, she added.

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