Meet the SHEROES - Falguni Nayar

Published on 3 Sep 2015 . 5 min read

She once stepped into a store in New York that offered a plethora of beauty products and that inspired her to start Nykaa. She wanted to offer that same variety to Indian consumers back home.

Let’s hear the story of ex-banker turned entrepreneur, Falguni Nayar today.

Tell us a little yourself

I grew up in south Mumbai. As a young girl I was always interested in reading about price-earning multiples in The Economic Times. Capital markets, finance and investments were of huge interest to me, and the first time I applied lipstick was on my wedding day! I was very focused on studying and doing well at school and college. After graduating I went to Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and after graduating I decided to join consulting. Somehow the idea of giving advice to CEOs of companies sounded like a really cool thing to do but within a couple of years I realized that I wanted to be more of a doer, meeting business targets and so I moved to Kotak Mahindra Capital Bank. 

How did the idea for come about?

Working in an investment bank it always fascinated me to see entrepreneurs raise funds through IPOs and create tangible value. This inspired me to embark on my own business journey. On a visit to New York I happened to walk into a Sephora store. I was dazzled by the great variety, quality, choice and advice and came away with a basket of beauty products. I realized that the Indian beauty market wasn’t large not because of a lack of demand but because of a lack of availability of choice, quality and variety. That sowed the seed for Nykaa. In early January 2012 I put in my papers to the surprise of my colleagues and friends who had no idea I had been toying with the thought for a while.

In the world of e-commerce, what are the top 3 things an entrepreneur should keep in mind?

The three things an entrepreneur should always keep in mind are:

1) Don’t underestimate the power of technology, both positive and negative!

2) The digital revolution will change the way people consume products, services and are influenced.

3) A solid e-commerce business has to be backed by a solid physical delivery system.  

Nykaa focuses on beauty products, in the future do you plan to expand products / services?

For now Nykaa is focused on selling beauty products in a comprehensive way. Nykaa is all about holistic, long term sustainable beauty, hence we have a robust wellness offering as well. We already offer services thanks to our expert portal that features 30 of the country’s leading makeup, skin, hair, personal care and wellness experts who offer advice to Nykaa customers. Many of our regular shoppers are in the age group of 20-35 years, and are working women and/or young mothers, so we may offer specific products/services to suit their unique needs at a future date.  

When other e-commerce sites offer a range of healthcare, beauty, clothing and other products, how does Nykaa gain an advantage with focusing on beauty care?

The way the e-commerce market has evolved in India, there are two or three large horizontal players, but when you look around, industry verticals are popular in home furnishings/furniture, beauty, eyewear, healthcare, and maternity and baby needs. There are enough studies and industry statistics to indicate that verticals always enjoy greater customer loyalty because they offer greater variety, better choice, advice, fulfillment and therefore, a superior shopping experience.    

What is your average work-day like?

I always begin my day with a brisk walk on Carmichael Road, Mumbai followed by a healthy breakfast of oats. My work day starts at 9.30 and before I know it, it’s already 7.30 in the evening! I tend to revisit my IPad after dinner at about 10.30. Nykaa has grown so fast and so quickly that if I were to return to my IPad in the middle of the night, I end up keeping a tab on the orders pouring in. It’s exciting to see Nykaa literally grow in front of my eyes!

What or from whom do you draw your inspiration from?

The Poem Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy never ceases to inspire me. It compares Ulysses’ legendary journey to the journey every person makes through his or her life and suggests that everyone is looking for their own Ithaca, their personal supreme goal. However, in the end, it is not the goal but the journey that matters, because this journey makes us wise and gives us priceless riches; experience, knowledge and maturity. Ultimately we shouldn’t judge a journey by the value of the destination because whatever the destination, the journey would have been an interesting, enriching one.

A few words of advice for our readers?

I believe you should commit yourself if you want to work. Of course a work-life balance is very important but learning to compartmentalize your time is the best way to be effective. This is especially true for working women and mothers. Find the right balance in life is the key to success.

Falguni Nayar
Paroma Sen
Paroma Sen is a professional content and creative writer.

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