[Funding Alert] Mensa turns unicorn within 6 months of inception with $135M Series B investment
The D2C (direct-to-consumer) house of brands startuphas raised Series B funding of $135 million at a valuation of over a billion dollars. Mensa is now one of the fastest unicorns in Asia, after attaining the status within six months of its inception.
Mensa has so far raised a total of more than $300 million in equity and debt. The investment round was led by Alpha Wave Ventures | Falcon Edge Capital with participation from all existing investors — Accel Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and Tiger Global Management. Prosus Ventures (Naspers) also invested in Mensa in this latest funding round. This also would be Prosus' first investment in the space.
Ananth Narayanan, Founder and CEO, Mensa Brands
The startup stated it is already profitable and intends to use the funding to continue partnering with founding teams of customer-loved brands and help them become household names. In addition, it’ll invest in hiring across functions and continue building out its tech platform and other growth capabilities.
In a conversation with YourStory, Ananth Narayanan, Founder and CEO, Mensa Brands said, "We are looking to build a global tech house of brands. We're trying to genuinely see if we can build a new age house of brands. It has been a good strong start for us, and have partnered with 12 brands already. All of the 12 brands we have on our portfolio are growing at a 100 percent year-on-year."
He explained, the team has been able to do this because of their strong focus on tech and ecommerce towards all aspects of the business. "What is exciting for me is take these brands and grow them as global brands," added Ananth.
Ashutosh Sharma, Head of Investments, India, Prosus Ventures (formerly Naspers Ventures) said, “Ananth brings formidable expertise in building market-leading consumer brands at scale. We are excited to support Mensa Brands in their journey to build digital-first global brands from India. Their team brings superior execution focus and technology chops to help emerging brands scale digitally. This is an incredible time for made-in-India businesses, and we look forward to helping to fuel their future success.”
Citing examples, Ananth said one partner brand, Villain, a leading men’s fragrance, and accessories brand grew by over 250 percent in October. Another partner brand, Karagiri, a leading high-end designer sarees brand has grown by over 140 percent in October.
Mensa started in May 2021 with a vision to partner and invest in digital-first brands across fashion and apparel, home and garden, beauty and personal care and food and scale them exponentially.
The new unicorn works closely with founding teams to accelerate growth on marketplaces, through the brand's own websites, and global platforms by using a combination of initiatives across product, pricing, marketing, distribution, and brand building with a technology platform at the core.
Subrata Mitra, Partner at Accel Partners added, “We're excited to continue our partnership with the superstar team at Mensa led by Ananth on their hyper-growth trajectory: it's a new approach to ecommerce that aligns our ability to identify exceptional entrepreneurs and accelerate their business with Mensa's tech platform and brand building capabilities."
The process of partnering with Mensa from initiation to execution is often done within four to eight weeks.
Navroz Udwadia, Co-founder and Partner of Alpha Wave Ventures | Falcon Edge Capital said “We are excited to continue backing Ananth Narayanan as he executes a best-in-class playbook of brand aggregation and acceleration focused on Indian and global e-commerce brands. Mensa demonstrates a tangible uplift through a combination of product and pricing optimization, technology-led process improvement, distribution and marketing augmentation and fine-tuning the supply chain.
Navroz added, "These levers meaningfully accelerate the growth and margin trajectory of the brands and make them well-poised to become category leaders. We believe Mensa is well on track to cement its reputation as the partner of choice for well-performing e-commerce brands.”
After the Good Glamm Group and Licious, Mensa Brands is the third unicorn in the D2C space and the 37th this year. However, Mensa is the fastest unicorn in Asia. Speaking of the segment Ananth explained,
"India is a brand starved market. There will be more brands that will be built. What we are getting value for Mensa isn't just the partnerships or the ability to do the partnerships, but the ability at which we can accelerate the support, this matters a lot. Also, this is a long-term game. There aren't many brands that can be called profitable unicorns, as we are doing this in a sustainable manner."
Mensa also aims to acquire over 40 brands by December 2022.
Niren Shah, Managing Director and Head of Norwest Venture Partners India said “Armed with exceptional prior leadership experience in two major businesses, Ananth has been able to build a top-class team and partner with more than 12 companies to embark on a journey of building a tech first global house of brands from India. 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."