Dennis Lingo (DL) and Pebble, both owned by e-commerce brand aggregator Mensa Brands, have grown multifold since acquisition, CEO and founder Ananth Narayanan told FE.
The two companies, DL and Pebble — among the 20-plus brands that Mensa has acquired in the last 21 months or so — became a part of the aggregator in October 2021 and June 2022, respectively.
Since then, DL, a men’s casual clothing company, has seen its annual recurring revenue (ARR) climb to around Rs 200 crore, from Rs 30 crore, Narayanan said.
While Pebble, a smart wearables manufacturer, saw its ARR jump to around Rs 220 crore, from under Rs 100 crore pre-acquisition. The company did not immediately shed light on the growth trajectory of the other brands it has acquired so far.
An expanding customer base, digital-first approach and aggressive positioning on Amazon, Flipkart and a host of other e-commerce sites, where brands didn’t list before, have all together helped the companies grow.
That was especially helpful in case of Pebble, which was largely an offline brand before being bought out by Mensa Brands.
Going forward, Mensa plans to take both the brands global by beginning operations in the United States (for DL) and the Middle East (for Pebble) over the coming months.
The company also plans to open its first physical store for DL in Mumbai, by May-end, stressing on the omnichannel approach that a number of e-commerce companies are adopting.
“We are building brands, not building labels with stock keeping units (SKUs) that have defensibility. So, Mensa should be looked at more like a digital Unilever (global retail giant) or a digital Inditex (Spanish clothing company),” Narayanan explained.
While it has presence across fashion, beauty and home, among others, Narayanan said western wear, foot wear, inner wear, colour cosmetics under beauty and personal care, nutraceuticals space are other categories that interest the company but will be slow with future acquisitions for now.
“We have to buy fewer, larger brands it’s the nature of growing up. So, we would do fewer acquisitions but each of them will be much larger so we’ll take much more time and do more diligence,” Narayanan said.
“We would earlier acquire companies in the Rs 10-15 crore ARR range but in a year’s time we have moved that slab and now look at brands with an ARR broadly in the Rs 50 crore to Rs 200 crore range mainly because we are much larger and cannot be buying small brands now. The threshold is directly proportional to Mensa’s growth trajectory.”
Mensa Brands has so far raised $300 million in a mix of debt and equity from Falcon Edge Capital, Accel, Prosus, Tiger Global and several others and is valued at $1.2 billion. Its operating revenue in FY22, its first financial year of operations, was at $41.36 million while its losses stood at $16.41 million, according to Fintrackr.
“I think businesses can grow, make money without burning cash. We’re just about 21 months old, so not too worried about company-wide profitability right now, because all our brands are Ebitda positive anyway,” Narayanan said.
Mensa is building a digital house of brands by buying controlling stakes in startups and grows it alongside its other brands. Some pre-requisites: brands should be loved by customers, shown via reviews and ratings, be profitable and the “Mensa alpha”, where a company can grow exponentially by adapting to Mensa’s growth playbook, should be easily applicable.