India@75: A nation in the making

'Our idea is to find the next Estée Lauder, Nykaa'

Beauty firms announce programme to discover new Indian beauty brands, help them grow via masterclasses, financial support and distribution

Naini Thaker
Published: Jul 30, 2022 10:00:23 AM IST
Updated: Jul 30, 2022 10:29:39 AM IST

'Our idea is to find the next Estée Lauder, Nykaa'(L-R) Shana Randhava, vice president, ELC New Incubation Ventures, and Anchit Nayar, CEO of beauty for Nykaa e-Commerce will lead the Beauty&You programme

Recently, Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) and Nykaa announced the launch of Beauty&You India—a programme that is looking to discover the next generation of Indian beauty brands. Created by ELC’s New Incubation Ventures and launched in partnership with Nykaa, Beauty & You India aims to help founders and innovators grow their business by identifying brand goals, achieving scale and curating product portfolios.

Beauty&You will support India-focused companies and entrepreneurs through a competitive application process—and both pre-launch and in-market beauty concepts will be considered for the awards. The winners will be provided with masterclasses, financial support, mentorship and distribution support from ELC and Nykaa’s experienced ecosystem.

The jury for the programme includes Katrina Kaif, actor and founder of Kay Beauty; Sabyasachi Mukherjee, founder & CEO, Sabyasachi; Samrath Bedi, executive director of Forest Essentials; Nicola Kilner, CEO & co-founder, DECIEM group, among other industry experts. Shana Randhava, vice president, ELC New Incubation Ventures, and Anchit Nayar, CEO of beauty for Nykaa e-Commerce, who will lead this programme, spoke to Forbes India about the vision and objective of the programme. Edited excerpts:

Q. What triggered the decision to launch Beauty&You? What is the main objective of this programme?

Shana Randhava: This programme was inspired by Nykaa and ELC’s deep commitment to building and supporting the startup ecosystem in India. We started talking about this programme about six months back. The idea is to discover and propel the next big beauty entrepreneur in India and allow them to benefit from our joint experience, distribution and scale, which could help the brand scale up locally and then take it to the global stage.

Anchit Nayar: The idea for this programme comes from our shared history. Estée Lauder did this 76 years ago, Nykaa did this just 10 years [ago]—finally both businesses were started by women entrepreneurs and have become successful in their respective domains. We wanted to find a way to give back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India. More than the capital we’ll be infusing into these businesses, it is about them learning from our shared resources and network.

Young entrepreneurs in the beauty space might have access to plenty of capital from the PE/VC ecosystem. But really understanding what it takes to be a powerhouse and build successful brands—is something we can help them with. Our insights here will be much more meaningful than just giving capital.

Q. From a strategic point of view, is this programme a means to look for more acquisitions?

Anchit Nayar: The purpose of Beauty&You is to give back to the ecosystem that has been extremely generous to both Estée Lauder and Nykaa. Our idea is to find the next Estée Lauder, the next DECIEM, the next Forest Essentials and the next Nykaa.

We are going to be giving the award money without taking any equity in the company. In our minds, it is a truly altruistic programme. That being said, both companies have a history and track record of making acquisitions. While there is a possibility that we might invest in these brands or look to acquire them at some point, that is not the goal of this programme.

Q. How does the programme work and will these companies be a part of ELC and Nykaa’s networks in the long run too?

Shana Randhava: The application portal opens on August 1, 2022 and for the next two months we’ll be collecting applications from both—in-market brands as well as companies at the pre-launch stage. There will be a very exhaustive shortlisting process and finally the shortlisted candidates will present at the November event, when the final winners will be announced. During the shortlisting process, we will spend a lot of time doing masterclasses—educating potential winners about marketing, technology and brand building.

Anchit Nayar: I feel the real work begins after the winners have been declared. This is when the stakeholders at ELC and Nykaa will really roll their sleeves up and help these guys on their journey to become meaningful brand(s) in the country. The winners will get access to Nykaa’s distribution network, they will be listed on our platform and also possibly get featured in our physical retail stores.

Q. What are some of the criteria you will be looking at when picking the finalists?

Shana Randhava: We will be focussing on brands and entrepreneurs who have some really cutting-edge ideas. These brands or ideas need to have a competitive advantage—new innovative products, technology, new experiences for consumers and community or even looking at different consumer audiences.

We are focussing on building long-term relationships with these brands, which is why we have a very rigorous shortlisting process. To give you an example, Estée Lauder looked at over 1200 brands in the past year, before deciding which companies to invest in. This means we are very selective and really looking for some unique gems coming out of the Beauty&You programme.

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