Cover Falguni Nayar, MD and CEO, Kotak Investment Banking. (Photo: Getty Images)

Did you know that Falguni Nayar only started Nykaa, the company that propelled her into billionaire status, when she was 50?

This week, Forbes released its highly anticipated annual World Billionaire List for 2022. While the list saw 87 fewer billionaires that are worth US$400 billion less than a year ago, the list was still one to behold with both familiar names and newcomers. 

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In particular, Asia saw a significant increase in billionaires in Asia with the richest newcomer, Zhang Congyuan (with a net worth of US$11.7 billion), hailing from Taiwan and 62 new faces from China alone—the most from a single country. 

However, one of the most notable newcomers is Falguni Nayar, a 59-year-old entrepreneur from India with a net worth of US$4.5 billion. She is also the richest self-made woman in the country with several achievements to her name after she started her beauty retail brand just nine years ago at age 50. 

It is safe to say that many would be curious about this gritty female entrepreneur and her business story. Below, we detail what we know so far. 

1. She has an MBA from one of the top schools in India

Falguni was born in 1963 to a Gujarati family in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She graduated from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in 1983 with a Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting and Business/Management.

She then went on to further her education at the Indian Institue of Management Ahmedabad where she graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 1985.

2. She started her career as a management consultant

Fresh out of school, Falguni began her career as a management consultant with AF Ferguson & Co in 1985. After almost nine years in the company, she moved on to Kotak Securities, one of the oldest and largest equity broking houses in India. In the company, she took on the role of head of international business in London and then later on in New York. After 13 years in the company, Nayar left her role as director and head of the institutional equities business—a position she held for six years.

She later became the managing director of Kotak Investment Banking in 2007, where she stayed for four years before quitting to start her business, Nykaa.  

3. She is married to the India CEO of private equity giant KKR

Falguni’s husband is Sanjay Nayar, the CEO of KKR India, an arm of the leading global investment firm. He is also on the board of KKR’s portfolio companies which include Radiant Healthcare, Bharti Infratel, Magma Financial Services and Coffee Day Holdings. 

The pair reportedly met at business school and tied the knot in 1987. The couple has two children, Adwaita and Anchit, who are twins. The pair currently work at Nykaa with Adwaita as the chief executive of Nykaa Fashion and Anchit as the CEO of beauty e-commerce.

4. She is a notable newcomer to the Forbes billionaire list

While Falguni is a notable newcomer to the Forbes Billionaire list, did you know that she is also the richest self-made woman in India this year?

This is the second year running that she is recognised for this achievement.

5. Nayar used internal funds for her startup in the early years

In 2012 and at the age of 50, Falguni decided to pivot to start Nykaa, a cosmetics retail space that brought international beauty brands into India’s retail space. She wanted to help address the beauty needs of women who were struggling with the accessibility of online brands even though she had no prior experience in retail, beauty or technology herself.

In its initial years, Nykaa was completely funded by Falguni and her husband. Falguni explains this decision by saying that she did not want to raise money in the first two years but that she wanted to work on gaining the metrics and numbers needed so that when they approached investors, they would be in good standings. 

In March 2020, the company turned unicorn after only five rounds of funding which involved institutional investors. 

The company largely owes its success to Falguni’s decision to diversify and sell third-party beauty products as well as launch its own brand. Being an omnichannel retailer also helped the company to tide over the years, particularly during the pandemic. 

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