Mensa Brands, which is established by Ananth Narayanan, has raised $135 million in fresh funding that is now pegged at over $1 billion. This makes it the fastest Indian start-up to become a unicorn.
Mensa runs a model similar to the US-based Thrasio, which buys profitable, well-reviewed online sellers on Amazon and turbocharges their growth with technology, marketing, and product growth chops.
This $135-million Series B funding round was led by its existing investor Falcon Edge Capital, along with other existing investors like Accel, Norwest, and Tiger Global Management. Prosus (Naspers) is the new entrant in the league.
According to the company’s official statement, it has acquired 12 brands so far in various categories such as designer sarees, jewelry, men’s wear, smart devices and personal care. Most of these brands are growing 100 percent year-on-year (YoY) since the time of acquisition.
“Our deep focus on technology and digital brand building, as well as our people, has allowed us to grow three times our initial plan and we, at Mensa Brands, are primed to build global breakout brands from India. I am especially proud that more than 50 percent of our brands are led by women founders and that Mensa supports small and medium-sized businesses across the country,” Narayanan said.
Mensa has raised over $300 million in equity or debt to date. Debt is a key tool to acquire companies since it is cheaper than equity. The company is among the best-funded players in the e-commerce rollup space in India, competing with GlobalBees, Upscalio and GOAT Brand Labs. GlobalBees is reportedly in talks to raise funds.
“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. These levers meaningfully accelerate the growth and margin trajectory of the brands and make them well-poised to become category leaders,” Navroz Udwadia, Co-Founder and Partner at Falcon Edge Capital, said.