‘To build a successful brand, both offline and online presence need to coexist’ says Ananth Narayanan

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‘To build a successful brand, both offline and online presence need to coexist’ says Ananth Narayanan
Ananth NarayananMensa
India is undergoing rapid digitization, transforming all areas of life including the way in which consumers find products, make purchases, and identify with brands. The changes have accelerated the country’s adoption of e-commerce, a market expected to grow by 96% between 2021 and 2025, according to a report by Forbes.
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Yet Ananth Narayanan, Founder & CEO of Mensa Brands, denies that e-commerce will erase the need for brands to maintain an offline presence. His firm has become a leader in accelerating e-commerce, technology, marketing, and other business needs for brands across fashion, home and beauty.

“To build a large successful brand in India, it is not possible to do so offline,” Narayanan shared in a fireside chat at a Times Bridge event in Bangalore this month. Speaking to Viral Jani, EVP & India Country Head at Times Bridge, Narayanan emphasized, “Online and offline need to coexist.”

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Narayanan, who has decades of experience from stints at Myntra and McKinsey, identified common setbacks faced by Indian companies. “There are three reasons why brands don’t scale — first is talent, because it is very hard for small brands to attract the kind of talent that is needed. Second is expertise, especially in technology, and third is capital.”

The industry veteran also noted India’s dynamic consumer trends, which are unlocking new opportunities for brands. “The next 100 million customers are in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities,” Narayanan pointed out. “More women [customers]. More regional languages.”

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Despite the discerning and evolving Indian consumer, Narayanan shared a simple tip for founders: focus on value creation. “Value creation is when you solve a problem that‘s hard for others to solve — and you solve it well.”

The result will be purpose-driven brands scaling across India — and the world. Narayanan is confident that there is potential. “I think we will see many Indian brands go global over the next 10 years.”

Bangalore-based Mensa Brands was founded by Ananth Narayanan in 2021 and works with brands including Villain, Dennis Lingo, Priyaasi, Karagiri and Pebble among others. The firm is backed by marquee global investors including Accel Partners, Falcon Edge Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Prosus, and Tiger Global Management. It has also secured debt financing from Alteria Capital, InnoVen Capital, Oxyzo, Stride Ventures, and TradeCred.
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