Understanding Mensa Brands
Founded in 2021, Mensa Brands entered the unicorn club and raised over $200M funds in a span of 6 months.
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Founded in 2021, Bangalore-headquartered Mensa Brands is a startup that acquires digital direct-to-consumer brands and helps them scale within their home market and globally. Currently, the company has 15 brands in apparel, personal care, home, and beauty. In November 2021, the company became India’s fastest and globally second-fastest unicorn after raising $135M in a Series B funding round led by Falcon Edge, bringing its valuation to $1.2B.
Mensa Brands is backed by marquee investors like Accel, Falcon Edge, Tiger Global, Norwest, and debt partners in Alteria and Innoven Capital. The company’s brand partners are Karagiri, Dennis Lingo, Villain, Ishin, Anubhutee, Priyaasi, DL, Helea, Hubberholme, LilPicks, Folkuture, and more.
Business Overview & Products
Mensa Brands acquires brands in the following categories:
The company spans across 5 cities with offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Gurugram and retails largely in the US, Canada, and UK.
How It Works
Mensa Brands acquires eCommerce brands and helps them scale nationally and globally. It leverages the company’s expertise in e-commerce, technology, marketing, category management, and demand planning with a technology platform at the core. The company’s aim is to grow brands in the Home, Apparel, Beauty, Garden, and Personal Care verticals.
With the company’s help, brands organize and optimize their inventories across leading marketplaces through their official websites and global platforms. The startup also assists brands with their product development by helping them identify consumer needs and launching a product accordingly. Moreover, Mensa Brands executes tech-led marketing campaigns for them and optimizes the prices of their products in an attempt to make these brands a household name.
Initially, the company buys majority stakes in brands with plans to acquire them fully in 5 years based on certain metrics and milestones. These brands are all profitable with their revenue ranging from $1M to $10M and upon acquisition, their founding teams work closely with Mensa Brands to accelerate growth on marketplaces.
The partnership process from initiation to execution is hyper-efficient and mostly the deal closes within 4-8 weeks. After the partnership, the brand’s profitability grows beyond 10x in a short span of time with the help of the company’s integration of expertise and technology.
Business Model & Pricing
Mensa Brands’ business model is inspired by Thrasio, a US-based startup that discovers top-rated and best-selling items on Amazon, buys those firms, and grows them. Similarly, Mensa Brands works in two parts: on one side it partners with emerging brands and invests in them, on the other side it accelerates brands by helping them scale and grow both domestically and internationally.
The company earns revenue through the brands it acquires with 20% of the revenue coming from overseas markets like the US, Middle East, UK, and Southeast Asia. It features its products on e-commerce platforms and 10% from its D2C channels.
Mensa Brands has partnered with 15 brands to date, the majority of which are growing at 100% year over year. The company also has the next 7 brand partnerships in line and claims to have grown 3x of their initial plan. Within a year, the company has managed to expand its brands globally across the US, Middle East, UK, and Southeast Asia markets by featuring its products on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Zalora, and Namshi. Mensa Brands has raised $300M in equity and debt.
Founder(s) & Team
Ananth Narayanan: Co-Founder and CEO at Mensa Brands. Ananth previously served as CEO at Myntra where his leadership led to 6x growth in 3.5 years and improved profitability. He also founded Medlife.com, an online platform, which provides pharmacy, diagnostics, and e-consultation in India. For his exceptional leadership, Anath was featured in the “India’s Hottest 40 under 40 Business Leaders” list in 2014.
Aniket Nikumb: Founding Team at Mensa Brands. Aniket, a Columbia graduate has always been intrigued by the world of finance. Post-graduation, he interned and worked at numerous finance companies like Amansa Capital, BRX Global, etc. Aniket also founded Appaloosa Foods.
Pawan Kumar Dasaraju: Founding Team at Mensa Brands. Pawan, a business school graduate has 13 years of successful experience in the food and fashion industry. He has worked as the Business Head at both Swiggy and Myntra, and courtesy of his expertise his departments flourished immensely. Pawan was also Founder in Residence at Entrepreneurs First, an international Talent Investor, which supports individuals to build technology companies.
History & Evolution
In May 2021, Mensa Brands was launched in an attempt to build a technology-led ‘House of Brands’ for the e-commerce industry.
In October 2021, the company partnered with 10 digital-first brands in apparel, beauty, and home categories to help them scale and grow.
That month it also claimed that its partner brand, Villain, grew over 250% and Karagiri grew over 140%.
In November 2021, just six months after its launch, Mensa Brands became profitable.
In December 2021, the company acquired LilPicks, an emerging digital-first fashion brand in the kids wear segment, Folkulture, a home decor label that caters majorly to the USA and UK markets and High Star, a homegrown denim brand.
In January 2022, Mensa Brands acquired Estalon, a leather goods manufacturer and seller.
By 2024, the company aims to create a portfolio of more than 50 ventures across fashion, home, garden, personal care, and beauty.
The website hasn’t changed since its launch in 2021.
The company classifies and invests in brands based on their run rates. For instance, brands with a $1B run rate are called break-out brands since they are growing at an exponential rate. In their case, the company invests in technology and brand building. Other brands that are growing at a steady pace are called mid brands, which is why the startup invests in category expansion and channel expansion. For emerging brands, the company focuses on growth, scaling, and finding the product-market fit.
Suggested Next Reads
Mensa Brands - Not just a "unicorn", the quickest one (Buildd, Nov ‘21)
India's billion-dollar Mensa Brands is already profitable, says founder- Vigour Times (Craig Peters, Vigour Times, Nov ‘21)
Mensa trying to be a global tech-led house of brands, says founder of India's fastest unicorn (Nayantara Rai, The Economic Times, Nov ‘17)