Interview: Ananth Narayanan, founder & CEO, Mensa Brands

‘The key differentiator in a fast growing category is execution’

It is a myth that e-commerce can either grow fast or be profitable as we have managed to create an operating playbook that allows us to do both.
It is a myth that e-commerce can either grow fast or be profitable as we have managed to create an operating playbook that allows us to do both.

D2C tech-led house of brands Mensa Brands entered the smart wearable segment last week with the acquisition of homegrown smart wearables brand Pebble. The wearables market in India recorded double digit growth in Q1 2022 on the back of new launches and aggressive marketing by various players. So it is easy to see why Ananth Narayanan, founder and CEO, Mensa Brands, is gung-ho about the acquisition. He speaks to Alokananda Chakraborty about his plans. Excerpts:

Why does the smart wearable market attract Mensa?

The smart wearable market is  expected to grow at a CAGR of 20% over the next five years. Pebble is a lifestyle electronics brand that emphasises user-friendly product design. While maintaining the brand’s commitment to innovative design and affordable prices, Mensa Brands will provide it with the technological innovations and digital brand-building capabilities to disrupt the global smart wearable market.

What are Mensa’s plans for Pebble?

We aim to write a new chapter in the brand’s story, taking it to wider audiences and regions, scaling its business exponentially. Our key growth levers will span new products and categories, scaling new channels and geographies, investing in brand building and streamlining operations and improving customer experience.

What is the crux of the ‘house of brands strategy’ followed by Mensa?

We partner with brands that have found the right product-market fit and have grown due to customer love, not discounts. After integrating them, Mensa leverages synergies on demand—that is, new launches, pricing, growth hacking—and supply side—that is, sourcing, logistics. Combining values of frugality and thinking big, we innovate while doing more with less. It is a myth that e-commerce can either grow fast or be profitable as we have managed to create an operating playbook that allows us to do both. The key differentiator will come down to execution.

What is Mensa’s core competence?

Our brand strength is partnering with the best founders to grow digital-first brands using technology. We have around 20 brands across fashion, home and garden and beauty and personal care. Our tech stack supports non-linear sustainable growth and provides real-time data that enables efficient decision-making.

The media keeps comparing Mensa Brands with US-based Thrasio. How are you not a Thrasio?

Aspects that make us unique include our focus on categories like fashion, home and beauty that lend themselves to brand building. We are working to building real brands that are household names with strong recall and category-killer customer experience as opposed to aggregating revenue/EBITDA. Our tech and data playbook gives us the clear advantage to grow in a non-linear manner and scale an omnichannel global business.

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