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Falguni Nayar is the Founder and CEO at Nykaa.com. She founded it in 2012 with the vision of making the best of beauty products available all across India. Today, Nykaa.com’s collection includes the best of Indian and International brands across make up, skin care and hair care categories.
Falguni is an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and initially worked as a Consultant with AF Ferguson & Co and then as an Investment Banker at Kotak for about ~18 years (with roles in International Business, Institutional Equities and Investment Banking). 27 years into her career, she took the entrepreneurial plunge and moved to start Nykaa.com.
In our conversation, we spoke about her formative years, how she thought about her career in the initial years after IIMA and her reflections on how women should think about managing their careers and their leadership style as they go through their journey. We also spoke at length about her transition from the corporate world into the world of start ups when she started Nykaa.com and explore how she has had to adapt her ways to flourish in the new context. 
Published in April 2019.

Early formative years

Falguni speaks about how her childhood shaped her personality and her wiring in the years to come. She speaks about how she and her brother were treated equally across various aspects of life and the independence parents gave her to try different things (trekking, traveling to Kashmir, going on an exchange programme etc) 

Choices post IIMA

Falguni speaks about how she made some early career choices post IIMA. She speaks about how she was independent in the way she went about making decisions. She also speaks about the context in which the transition from Consulting to Banking happened when she got a call from Kotak on her childrens’ 3 year birthday.  

Women and intense careers

Falguni speaks about how she juggled her family and her career at various points in time. She specifically speaks about the Maternity transition and says that women shouldn’t treat it as a P&L discussion where they are trading off the income with the opportunity cost of being with the child. She urges the women to look it as an investment in oneself that pays out over the future. 

Taking the entrepreneurial plunge

Falguni speaks about the phase of life when she decided to become and entrepreneur after 25+ years post IIMA and after a successful run at Kotak. She also speaks about other businesses she considered (Professionalizing Nursing Homes, Creating a Market for second homes to name a couple) before proceeding with building out Nykaa. 

Rewiring the leadership approach

Falguni speaks about the key shifts that she has made to her leadership style as she moved from a Senior Leadership role in an institution like Kotak to starting Nykaa from the ground. She specifically refers to the poem Ithaka that had daughter had shared with her at that point. It talks about the criticality of focusing on the journey than the destination. 

Start up to scale up

Falguni speaks about the key shifts she has had to make as Nykaa moved from a start-up phase (where the proof of concept was still being established) to a scale up phase. She speaks about understanding the varying profile of the customer as the organization scales and speaks about how to get the organization ready for scale. 

Aligning horizons with investors

Falguni speaks about how she thinks about managing Investors in the context of her desire to build a long term sustainable business at Nykaa. She talks about the need to be transparent in the communication with investors on not just the metrics of the business but the philosophy with which you are building the business. 

Setting the goalpost when you are an industry leader

Falguni speaks about the criticality of being focused on what the consumer wants and using that as the guide for coming up with the vision and the aspiration as you grow. When you are often the leader in the market, you don’t have the option of looking at competition and setting the goalpost. She speaks about how she has tried to keep her focus on consumer needs as she has scaled up. 

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