Mensa Brands Founder Ananth Narayanan on taking Indian brands global

In this episode of Prime Venture Partners’ Podcast, Ananth Narayanan, Founder at Mensa Brands, takes us through the building blocks of taking brands from India to the world and the role Mensa plays.

Mensa Brands Founder Ananth Narayanan on taking Indian brands global

Sunday September 25, 2022,

4 min Read

In a country like India, with 1.35 billion people, there are less than 30 brands worth over $100 million each in fashion, beauty, and home. This leaves a massive opportunity to be explored and leveraged. And that’s what gave birth to Mensa Brands, a mission to build a global tech-led house of brands from India.

The concept behind Mensa

A vacuum in fashion, beauty, and home brands exists in India--a 120+ billion market, and 80%+ of it is unbranded. Plus, as the GDP increases, the need for meaningful and purposeful brands also increases among people.

Second is the massive change in distribution and brand building. They are being done very differently today, thanks to the rails built by Flipkart, Myntra, Amazon, etc., where you can reach 26,000 pin codes in this country in less than three days at less than ₹140.

And the third factor is that even though India has always been very good at manufacturing and almost half of the global brands are made in India, we never built brands globally.

So, I said to myself: ‘In the next 10 years, could we build brands from India that actually become household names and go global?’ And I think it’s a unique opportunity... because I don’t think we’ve been able to build brands from India for the globe before. Because, we’ve never been able to get the critical scale and critical size,says Ananth.

Role of Mensa in taking brands global

For a brand to go global is not as easy as opening the Amazon tap-and-order sort of flow-through. But Ananth goes on to clarify that once Amazon growth hacking is sorted, you can actually make it happen anywhere in the world. Reviews and ratings carry over. So, the interesting thing is that a brand is built here, its reviews and ratings are built more in India, and you use them to grow and scale the brand globally. 

"For example, Karagiri, a sari brand, has opened up to the US and is now starting to sell. About 20% of the sales come from the US, which has been interesting because it’s obviously Indiaspora that is buying it. But they’re looking for fashionable, affordable saris. Here, the Google and Facebook growth hacking remains the same. Obviously, the audience targeting is different. The logistics and pipes for logistics have been solved by DHL and FedEx, quite effectively," he explains.

Common traps budding D2C entrepreneurs should know

A very obvious but critical point sometimes entrepreneurs tend to forget is that customer love matters. All the Amazon-spend optimisation or SEO can’t help if the reviews and ratings are not good.

“You can always grow a brand through subsidy, right? Always. I mean, at some price point, everything will sell, right? And so, the question is, can you actually figure out unit economics and consumer value proposition?,” Ananth asks.

Second is to be present across channels. It’s important to sort of go beyond a channel and make sure that you’re able to crack more than one channel as you grow because that leads to healthy growth and some control on your end outcomes, as opposed to the platforms having all of the control.

And the third is having a healthy mix of D2C, offline platform. The platform is good to give an initial product-market-fit and growth momentum. “I think offline is important because it makes your brand real, right? And D2C is important because you have a continuous consumer connect. So, getting the balance right between those three as you scale in your first 18-24 months is important,” says Ananth.

You can listen to the full episode here

YouTube link

Time stamps:

03:45 - Productising All Elements of Brand Building

09:00 - Why is Brand Building Expensive

12:30 - Why Founders Choose Mensa Brands

18:00 - From Unbranded to Branded

25:30 - Finding PMF in the D2C world

Edited by Megha Reddy