Myntra fame Ananth Narayanan's new venture Mensa Brands, which is built on the model of US-based digital consumer goods firm Thrasio, has raised $50 million in Series A round of funding from Accel Partners, Falcon Edge Capital and Norwest Venture Partners.
Angel investors such as Kunal Shah, founder of Cred, Mukesh Bansal, founder of Curefit, Rahul Mehta, managing partner of DST Global, and Scott Shleifer, partner at Tiger Global also participated in the round.
The round also included debt financing facilities secured from debt funds like Alteria Capital and InnoVen Capital.
Structured on the model of Thrasio, Mensa plans to partner and invest in digital-first brands and scale them exponentially.
For the uninitiated, Thrasio is a famous profitable startup that discovers top-rated and bestselling items on Amazon and then buys those companies from their small-time owners. It then integrates these brands on its operating platform and helps the brands scale to a bigger level than what it would have achieved by being a standalone firm.
Barely three years old, Thrasio's early success is what is building investors' confidence in the business model. Narayan is not alone when it comes to Indian entrepreneurs trying to replicate this model domestically.
According to reports, Tiger Global is in talks to back Rishi Vasudev's startup Goat Brands Labs which plans to acquire lifestyle brands and expand them. Vasudev was the head of fashion at Flipkart. Firstcry is also launching an investment venture styled on the Thrasio model. Termed Global Bees, the venture will purchase and scale up brands selling their products online in a standalone manner.
Given the opportunity in the segment, Mensa plans to acquire over 50 brands in the next three years across categories like home, garden, apparel, personal care and beauty.
"We are looking for profitable companies posting an annual revenue of Rs 7-70 crore," Narayanan, founder and CEO of Mensa, told Moneycontrol.
Mensa plans to acquire a majority stake in the business at first, partner with the entrepreneur to grow the brand and then give him or her a full exit in 2-4 years.
The majority of the investment raised will be used for acquiring brands. It will also be utilised in growth acquisition, marketing and branding besides boosting the product and technology divisions of Mensa.
Besides playing a pivotal role in Myntra, Narayanan was also the co-founder and chief executive of health-tech startup Medlife which got acquired by larger rival Pharmeasy earlier this month.
"We're excited to partner with Ananth and the team at Mensa. Not only are they truly strategic and high calibre, but also have chosen a problem of brand aggregation that we believe has the right tailwinds. With digital acceleration of commerce globally, this model would be additive to the brand owners, the platforms and the consumers and should thus scale rapidly," said Subrata Mitra, Partner at Accel Partners.
Mensa plans to scale brands via the application of growth marketing, operational improvement and working capital management.
To marketplaces, Mensa plans to offer a data-led approach, a better balance sheet and a focus on consumer experience with all of its brands that should help with overall net promoter score.
"In Mensa, we see the birth of ‘Thrasio of India’," said Niren Shah, Managing Director and Head of Norwest Venture Partners India.