India’s billion-dollar Mensa Brands is already profitable, says founder

Indian start-up Mensa Brands has catapulted to billion-dollar unicorn status in just six months and, in a more rarified feat, is already profitable, its founder told CNBC.

The direct-to-consumer brand aggregator this week became the fastest company in India’s history to hit the coveted threshold after closing its $135 million Series B funding round at a $1 billion valuation.

The financing, which was led by Falcon Edge Capital, takes total money raised in debt and equity to $300 million.

“Within the first six months of operation we’re actually profitable, and we continue to intend to run this business in a profitable manner,” founder Ananth Narayanan told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday.

Growing digital-first brands

Mensa Brands operates by acquiring digital-first brands and scaling them domestically and overseas. It currently houses 12 brands across three key categories: fashion, home and beauty and personal care.

“We’ve actually had a lot of success with accelerating the brands, which is really why I think the business is valued at what it’s valued at,” Narayanan said.

The key, said Narayanan, who previously served as CEO of Indian fashion e-commerce company Myntra, has been to identify profitable brands with quality founders, loyal customers and between $1 million and $10 million in annual revenue.

Ananth Narayanan, founder of Indian brand aggregator Mensa Brands.

Mint | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

“Over the last six months, through technology, through product, through digital marketing, we’ve been able to get our brands to grow at north of 100% year-on-year, and I think that’s been the key,” he added.

Within the next 12 months, Narayanan said the company plans to double down on its existing verticals, partnering with 30 more brands.

“These markets are very deep … [they’re] north of $120 billion in both offline and online revenue,” said Narayanan. “That focus helps us build brands very differently, because we understand the space well, we understand the niches well.”

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