Falguni Nayar’s beauty startup has jolted her to the ranks of the world’s richest.
Nayar, who owns about half of Nykaa, is now worth about $6.5 billion as shares of the firm surged as much as 89% when they started trading Wednesday. She’s become India’s wealthiest self-made female billionaire, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
FSN E-Commerce Ventures, Nykaa’s parent entity, is India’s first woman-led unicorn to hit the stock exchange. It priced its initial public offering at the top end of a marketed range, raising 53.5 billion rupees ($722 million). The stock was up 78% as of 10:36 a.m. in Mumbai.
Nayar, who formerly led a top Indian investment bank, founded Nykaa in 2012 just months before turning 50. Back then, most Indian women bought makeup and hair-care products at neighborhood mom-and-pop stores where the selection was scanty and trials unheard of.
The startup has since grown into the country’s leading beauty retailer, buoying online sales with demo videos by glamorous Bollywood actors and celebrities and more than 70 brick-and-mortar stores. Nykaa, derived from the Sanskrit word for heroine, sells items including exfoliation creams, bridal make-up essentials and hundreds of shades of lipstick, foundation and nail color to suit Indian skin tones, skin types and local weather. Its sales surged 35% to $330 million in the year ended in March, according to its filing. Nykaa is a profitable company, a rarity among the internet startups making a debut in the public markets.
While Nayar is India’s richest self-made female billionaire, Savitri Jindal, who controls the OP Jindal Group conglomerate founded by her late husband, is the nation’s wealthiest woman. Her fortune is valued at $12.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.
Nykaa’s IPO is one of the many consumer Internet companies making its debut this year amid a soaring stock market. Paytm, India’s leading digital payments firm backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group Corp. closes for subscription on Wednesday. One97 Communications Ltd., its operator, is vying for a $2.5 billion listing, the nation’s biggest.
While Nykaa has changed Indians’ outlook from making do with just a lipstick and kajal eyeliner, “we have a long way to go,” Nayar told Bloomberg ahead of the IPO. Women — and even men — in the country of 1.3 billion people are just beginning to open their wallets to splurge on make-up and grooming products.