Investment

The media-shy academic behind Mankekar Family Office is becoming one of India’s top investors

Mankekar Family Office, the Mumbai-based single-family office of Professor Shivanand Shankar Mankekar, appears to be applying its stock-picking prowess to India’s vibrant start-up market this year. With Mumbai forming the focal point of its investment activity, the beauty and pharmaceutical sectors are key themes.   

One of these start-ups investments, MyGlamm, a direct-to-consumer beauty brand, has just become the latest member of India’s unicorn club. The $150 million Series D funding round, announced on 9th November 2021, attracted capital from Prosus Ventures and private equity group, Warburg Pincus in addition to existing investors including the Mankekar Family Office, L’Occitane and Bessemer Venture Partners. 

There are benefits to family offices that train their investment sights on familiar, domestic markets. Especially if that market happens to be one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and home to a vibrant start-up ecosystem

MyGlamm’s valuation has shot up four-fold to $1.2 billion, since it was valued at $300 million in July after closing its Series C round and becoming Amazon’s first beauty brand investment.

As an adjunct to the MyGlamm investment, the Mankekar Family Office has also invested in dental tech start-up Toothsi, which raised $20 million in its Series B round in August this year. Other lead investors in the Mumbai-based start-up included Eight Roads Ventures and Think Investments. 

Toothsi has also launched a skincare brand called Skinnsi, which provides laser removal and derma-facials. The parallels between the MyGlamm and Toothsi investments are self-evident, and suggest that the family office views India’s health and beauty space as an important growth market over the coming years. 

A former full-time professor at Mumbai’s Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Professor Mankekar capitalized in India’s stock markets when, in 2002, an investment in the retail fashion group, Pantaloons, netted approximately a 90 times return. Over the years, his stock-picking continued to yield success, including Wockhardt, a global biotechnology and pharmaceutical company, headquartered like many other investments, in Mumbai. 

There is also a pharmaceutical theme to how the family office approaches India’s start-up space. 

One such investment is in Bangalore-based biopharmaceutical company, Stelis Biopharma, which raised $125 million in Series C funding in March, 2021. Private equity firm, TPG Growth, led the funding round, which included the Mankekar Family Office, Route One and Think Investments. 

The company has ambitions to become a significant player in the biopharma and vaccine space, and is believed to be in the process of listing itself on India’s stock market.  

There are benefits to family offices that train their investment sights on familiar, domestic markets. Especially if that market happens to be one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and home to a vibrant start-up ecosystem.

A ranking of international start-up hubs produced by Startup Genome for its annual Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021, finds that Mumbai maintains its top spot in the Top 100 Emerging Ecosystems’ list, with Bangalore also featuring prominently. 

Startup Genome’s research finds that Indian start-ups raised $12.1 billion in the first half of this year. Through August 2021, India had produced 24 unicorns, six of which were created in April alone. 

Against that backdrop, one might expect to see continued strong interest among India’s family offices to back the next generation of entrepreneurs. Fortune India suggests that by 2025, they could contribute up to 30 per cent of the estimated $100 billion raised by India-based start-ups. 

Professor Mankekar is arguably India’s most famous academic-cum-star-investor. Some have compared him to John Maynard Keynes, the UK economist who enjoyed success with his Wall Street portfolio. He shuns any media spotlight and prefers a quiet, reclusive life. 

The family office’s investment portfolio is controlled by Om Kedar Investments, which Professor Mankekar operates with his wife Laxmi Shivanand Mankekar and his son, Kedar Mankekar.

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