Jaanuu is ready for the next step with Eurazeo and Jill Granoff.
The private equity giant made a $75 million minority investment in the direct-to-consumer premium scrubs brand, setting it up to continue disrupting a market on the move.
Jaanuu — which draws its name from the Hindi word for life — was founded in 2013 by pediatrician Dr. Neela Sethi and her brother, private equity and banking veteran Shaan Sethi, who serves as chief executive officer.
The investment is a big shot in the arm for a company that seems to be coming into its own just as the coronavirus pandemic puts the medical community front and center.
Jaanuu previously raised about $25 million, including an early check from Shaan Sethi’s former boss, Ron Burkle, and plans to use its backing to keep expanding the product range and move into new geographies.
The investment will sit in Eurazeo Brands division, led by CEO Jill Granoff, who is joining the Jaanuu board.
The four-and-half-year-old Eurazeo Brands division was spearheaded by Granoff and has made 12 investments — including Herschel Supply Co. and Bandier — digging into major consumer themes.
“We really like the intersection of consumer and health care,” Granoff said. “What we love about Jaanuu is that it’s a unique differentiated brand in the medical apparel space. It’s the only doctor-founded and led brand in the space, so we really feel they have a true understanding of the unique needs of health care.
“We love the fact that Jaanuu is bringing better product, which has better fabrications, better fit, better functionality, better comfort — all those things enable health care professionals to perform better,” she said. “It’s about purpose, it’s about people and potential. You can have a vision, but it always comes down to execution. We were really impressed with the team that was put in place to execute the strategy to drive the results.”
Over the past year, Jaanuu tapped two Nike Inc. veterans, Dan Alder as chief marketing officer and Scott Shepley as vice president of brand offering, and hired its first chief financial officer, Marshall Lai.
Those additions are helping the company project out to a market that is being disrupted by a new generation of competitor.
“Dan’s really created this brand army,” said Shaan Sethi. “A lot of Nike veterans and folks from the athleisure world [who] deliver a brand offering that can provide these hardworking health care professionals with a brand they emotionally resonate with. At the end of the day, you’re not just selling a product, you’re selling an emotion.”
And certainly it’s a consumer base that needs a little TLC right now, with the Omicron variant filling up hospitals and stressing the health care system generally.
“It’s been a humbling ride,” Sethi said. “There have been a lot of trials and tribulations for the health care professional. The fact that we’re back in it now — life goes on for a lot of folks, but for the health care professionals, they’ve got to strap up and go back to the front lines and go back to war and frankly save lives. And that’s a feat that is not lost on us and that’s not a feat that most folks are taking on on a daily basis.”
Sethi stressed the importance of having the company cofounded by his sister, who is still a practicing physician and knows firsthand the pains of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
“It’s a little bit different when you’re a brand that is cofounded by one of them, you’re sort of standing shoulder-to-shoulder, you’re on the front lines together,” he said. “It’s a trying profession and [we’re] able to understand their journey to achieve greatness or perform at their best and then understand what’s needed on the recovery side.”
Jaanuu is expanding into a market that was moribund for years, but is being disrupted by a new breed of direct-to-consumer competitor base, including Figs, which went public last year and now has a market capitalization of $3.9 billion.
The medical apparel world — plus gear for off-duty doctors — is a multibillion-dollar market that doesn’t carry a lot of fashion risk, although it’s a customer base that seems to be yearning for some more style in the work uniform.
“There is no market that is a winner-take-all market, but I think that the disruption that’s happening to the legacy players in this category is one that we believe will continue to happen,” Sethi said. “And having a bolstered balance sheet now is going to allow us to continue to take market share, but at a much faster clip than we had in the past.”
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