An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Ahmedabad and occupying top posts in the financial sector for over 24 years, Falguni Nayar's life took a turn after a Greek poet's work shared by her daughter inspired her to set up an e-commerce multi-brand retail store for beauty products that employs 230 people and is eyeing a Rs.300 crore ($45 million) turnover by 2017.
Nayar, who started her entrepreneurial journey almost four years back, admits she would still have been an investment banker if the 'Ithaka' inspirational poem by Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933) hadn't helped her trudge an entrepreneur's path.
"This is just the beginning of a journey, we reached some distance and there are still miles to go," Nayar said. 'Ithaka' means an inner self quest for rediscovering who you really are and what you really want from your life.
The 54-year-old, who firmly believes that any time is a good time to start a business, was here to promote her Nykaa.com retail store. Born in a Gujarati family and married to Punjab-origin Sanjay Nayar, the chief executive officer with global investment firm KKR-India, the entrepreneur said, "That in business only men could take risks is a wrong perception."
"Women should come out of this mindset that if they handle the business, it will affect their personal and professional life. I believe if a woman with strong determination and will power aims to do something, she will definitely achieve it."
In a word of advice for young start-ups, she said, "Being an entrepreneur is not an easy job. An entrepreneur is like a roller-coaster. If he/she is stronger from inside, he/she can enjoy it." Nayar said she is enjoying her new role as the founder and chief executive officer of the retailer. "Now I feel that I should have taken a call on starting the business a little earlier," she added.
Mother of twins - a boy and a girl - Nayar, who launched Nykaa.com on the lines of Sephora, the French chain of cosmetics stores, said, "When you are able to constantly focus on a single goal, your achievements reach their theoretical limit."
She said that it was her experience in investment banking that helped her to quickly succeed with the startup, initially with family investments. She later raised funding of Rs.90 crore. "When you are in a job, you can keep on hopping. But not in business," she said. Nayar believes e-commerce has a huge untapped potential in India. She said that the online shopper base in India would reach 100 million by 2016. It was 35 million in 2014. "There are over 100 million smartphone users in India that makes it easier to integrate online shopping," she explained.
Rolling up her sleeves, she said she is in talks with Indian investors to raise Rs.100 crore to expand beauty business by four-fold by investing in its own brands and opening up three more offline stores - two in Mumbai and one in Bengaluru. Currently, Mumbai-based FSN E-Commerce Ventures that owns Nykaa sells branded products across categories of bath and body, fragrances, hair care, makeup, skincare and luxury products for men and women. It has one offline store in New Delhi.