Falguni Nayar has become India’s most successful female entrepreneur by building Nykaa, the online beauty platform.
Here are 5 lessons from Nayar, and how she fits the unicorn-profile.
#1. Opportunity on an emerging trend: Nearly every unicorn-entrepreneur started on, or pivoted to, an emerging trend. Nayar is no exception. She started her beauty platform on the Internet, especially as broadband entered India and made the Internet more powerful as a tool to launch and grow ventures.
#2. Imitate and improve: Nayar followed in the footsteps of great unicorn-entrepreneurs, including Gates, Jobs and others who imitated the opportunity and improved on the strategy. There were other beauty platforms. Nayar launched hers in India with a strategy to capture India’s consumers who used few beauty products and services. Nayar saw the products that were being used in the West and brought them to India and sold them online. By circumventing the limited space in physical stores, Nayar was able to offer a wider choice of products and services, and to educate the consumer.
#3. Focus on the unmet need and the neglected segment: Just as Sam Walton focused on the unmet need in rural America and Brian Chesky focused on the unmet need among American property owners and travelers, Nayar focused on the unmet need among Indian women to learn more about the various kinds of beauty products and how to use them, just as they did in other countries.
#4. Be finance-smart: Nayar raised the right amount of money to launch her venture, to keep control, and to reduce dilution – even though “people” were recommending that she raise higher amounts from VCs. By limiting the amount raised, especially from highly dilutive VC sources, Nayar kept ~54% of the wealth created by Nykaa.
#5. Get the right skills: Unicorn-entrepreneurs had three skills to start their ventures (and six additional skills to launch and build their ventures. These startup skills included technical skills in the emerging industry to start with less, finance skills to need less to grow more, and sales skills to grow more with less. Nayar had finance and sales skills as an investment banker and learned retail skills. IT skills were easily available in India.
MY TAKE: The “first-mover” concept is emphasized by many. About 90% of first-movers fail or fail to dominate. Unicorn-entrepreneurs rely on their skills and strategies, not first-mover ideas. Falguni Nayar followed the unicorn profile and built her venture with unicorn startup, launch and leadership skills and the right strategies.