How to scale your startup to unicorn and beyond

Darpan Sanghvi: Master Of Scale

Darpan Sanghvi is the Group Founder & CEO of Good Glamm Group. Heis a bold and empowering visionary. He started MyGlamm in 2017, a beauty and cosmetics company which is now part of the Unicorn Club, with a precise aim of attracting customers directly to the platform. Darpan has revolutionized the industry with his unique business strategy and entrepreneurial and management skills. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a double MBA, Darpan has worked across brands in the luxury wellness industry. He has introduced many globally acclaimed beauty brands to the country, including L’Occitane and Clarins. 

Darpan Sanghvi on trying his hand at entrepreneurship

I had two failed entrepreneur attempts before the age of 19 and 27, and started in beauty with L’Occitane Spas. As soon as I got L’Occitane spas, I started emailing all the other great beauty brands of the world saying, ‘Hey, I’m the best guy in beauty services in India! You need to give me your rights too’.

Darpan Sanghvi on starting MyGlamm

I need to pivot and my investor said what do you want to pivot to? I said I understand products and packaging and branding so well. I’m ready to start my own brand and I think India is ready for homegrown beauty brands and we can use all the tech that I’ve learned now to be truly DTC.

Darpan Sanghvi on ambition

My ambition is always to create something of scale and that definition of scale just keeps growing and evolving as you start getting closer and closer to your goal.

Darpan Sanghvi on growth mindset

I was in the office of Mr Manish Malhotra, one of the greatest fashion designers of India, I had not even launched my product line and I was pitching to him ‘I’m going to build the best beauty product line of India, and I want you to partner with me because I want to create Manish by My Glamm.’ So my ambition has always been to disrupt and create the largest in the category. The definition of ‘largest’ keeps changing and evolving throughout the journey. 

The content to commerce strategy, according to Darpan Sanghvi

The hypothesis was very simple: how are consumers discovering new trends and brands and products? They’re discovering it on social media through content and the medium now is influencers delivering that content. So everybody thought that something could be done there. Content to commerce was not something new as an idea. What really worked for us when we came together was that POPxo was at the top of its game as a content platform for women in India and MyGlamm was at the top if its game as a DTC beauty brand.

Genesis of the Good Glamm Group, according to Darpan Sanghvi

The conviction kicked in when we witnessed the magic that got unlocked when we came together with POPxo and every month we just started seeing the numbers go higher. In your entrepreneurial life, you believe everything is going to be a hockey stick but most times it’s incremental and the incremental stacks up to great growth. This was the first time where something that we imagined would work as a hockey stick actually exceeded all our expectations and was greater than that. So when we saw the first quarter of that, the conviction went through the roof and that’s when the genesis for ‘we’ve got to double/quadruple down on this’ and turn that into Good Glamm Group really happened!

On fundraising as an entrepreneur 

In entrepreneurship there are 20 things you need to do. Some things will come naturally to you and some things you need to make an effort towards. I met an entrepreneur recently who confessed – I hate investor interactions. I said it doesn’t matter whether you hate or love it, you need to understand that capital is important for scale and capital means getting investors on board. So if you know it’s important for the success of your business, you’ve got to put in that effort. 

2 things that make it easy with investors, according to Darpan Sanghvi

Genuine self belief. You truly believe in what you’re building and that comes out naturally when you’re speaking to investors. 

Being absolutely transparent with them. Always give them bad news first and don’t try to put it under the carpet or hide it.

Darpan Sanghvi on scaling as a founder

The single biggest thing is you learn to empower folks. You cannot grow if everyone around you is not fully empowered to grow. Merely two years ago, I would be proofreading every SMS that went out because I was so passionate about my brand but you need to learn to let go and delegate. Giving people that security and empowering them is very important.

Darpan’s golden rule for building a successful company

The initial people are the founders so it starts with the founders but very soon it moves away from the founders to all the people who are running the company. So if I have to pick just one success factor, it’s the people.

Darpan Sanghvi on what makes a brand successful

Being authentic! Being true to what the brand believes in and everything that the brand does. The most successful brands are the ones that are most authentic and that happens when you’re true to what your brand point of view is. So if your brand point of view is ‘A’ and everything that you’re doing revolves around ‘A’. 

That’s not so easy to do; it’s easy to say, but very hard to do!

What makes for a successful entrepreneur, according to Darpan Sanghvi

Perseverance – the ability to keep going and going and going, until your tipping point comes. And when your tipping point comes, just run and go harder, even faster. 

Darpan Sanghvi on time management

For me managing time is most critical because time is what I’m always short of. I now have a rule that, by default, meetings with me cannot last more than 30 minutes. 

I think that if you’re conscious that your time is very short, you automatically start making decisions on how to manage time very effectively. 

Darpan Sanghvi on the hardest part of his journey

I don’t think I’ve ever bucketed something as ‘the hardest part’. There are challenges every day and in that moment something might seem to be the toughest challenge. But that’s all it is. 

Rapid Fire With Darpan Sanghvi

I would be remiss to not do a rapid fire round of questions given this exclusive access to the sharpest minds in the country. So thank Karan Johar for his Koffee influence or blame our insatiable appetite for bite sized content, but here’s presenting the relentless and fun rapid fire round. (ProTip: There’s one at the end of each episode so always stay tuned till the end)

The one thing entrepreneurship is not.

Entrepreneurship is not a short-term game. It is a way of life.

And the one thing entrepreneurship is, but most people don’t think it to be. 

Entrepreneurship is your whole life. I cannot see entrepreneurship as something that you just did for two years, or four years, or five years. Once you decide to be an entrepreneur, know you have to be all in and entrepreneurship is your life. 

If there was a movie made about you, who’d play you?

Hopefully myself! (Chuckles ensue)

What inspires you? 

I think I get inspired every day. What inspires me is the scale that people have been able to build around the world from nothing. So I genuinely get inspired every day. Something new and big happens somewhere, some new venture gets started by somebody, or some entrepreneur scales new heights, it just keeps inspiring and keeps pushing me. 

How do you celebrate the highest? 

I think you soak it in. It’s very important that you take a moment to soak it in but very important that that’s all you do. Because if you are an entrepreneur who is constantly looking for growth, then you know that that high will just be a fleeting second of self-satisfaction, when something that you had wanted to get done has got done and you’ve already moved on to what your next goal is.

How do you cope with the lows? 

The lows are there every day, right? There are highs and that’s where if you learn to celebrate small highs – it doesn’t need to be even a large high – even if it’s a small victory and that brings a smile to your face and reinforces your self belief, it allows you to cope with the low that’s going to come that day. So I think the way I cope with lows is by ensuring that even small victories give me a high. 

What do you do for pleasure? 

Being with my family, that’s my ultimate pleasure! So whether we’ll play a game of squash together or cook or travel, that is my ultimate pleasure.

At work something that you love doing? One part of your job that you, you really love doing? 

I love the branding, marketing, new product development meetings; creating something new is a high, like the favorite part or favorite meeting of the day!

And what do you really not like doing?

So I think I’ve come to a stage where there is nothing that I dislike because as I was mentioning earlier, if you start disliking something and you don’t work towards it, you know that that’s going to be a weakness for you. Right? So I don’t think there is anything that I dislike at work.

Complete the following sentence. The road to success is…

The road to success is one which you are always on, right? It never ends so there is no destination. So if you think success is a destination, no, success is a journey and that’s the road you are on. What you start defining as success will be the pit stops that will come your way. Sometimes those pit stops will take five years or ten years or fifteen years but they will come. I think the road to success is actually the road you are on!

Dream, build, or scale?

Well, if you can’t dream, you can’t build. And if you build, you have to scale. So I think it’s, it actually goes in that order. You dream, you build and you scale!

What does success look like for the Good Glamm Group?

You know our goals keep changing, right? I genuinely believe that we can be the largest beauty company in the world. We have something going for us. I think in India we are doing really well and we’re going to scale to a whole different level, things like an I P O… those are all steps in the journey, and I’m pretty sure that even that goal, by the time all of us get to it, we will have a new goal for us! But just to be the biggest and the best at what we are doing!