Falguni Nayar had been an investment banker for nearly 20 years when, in 2012, at the age of 50, she decided to launch Nykaa, an Indian cosmetics marketplace, with $2 million of her own money. Today, Nykaa — a name derived from the Sanskrit word “Nayaka,” meaning actress or someone in the spotlight — is India’s largest online cosmetics seller, winning against global e-commerce giants Walmart (via Flipkart) and Amazon.
Nayar has credited her focus on statistics, a habit she brings from her investment banking days, as the “secret sauce” for her success. In November 2021, Nykaa went public at a valuation of over $12 billion, making Nayar India’s richest self-made female billionaire, with a net worth of $7.7 billion. She is now among India’s 20 richest people.
Her business success has made her a role model for women in India. She is an outlier in the elite “big boys’ club” of Indian tech unicorn founders, over 90% of whom are men. Nayar also holds a seat on the board of Indian multinational consumer goods major Dabur.