From Priyanka Chopra to Deepika Padukone: Bollywood actors are investing in startups

Sujata Sangwan ( )

The Bollywood buzz used to be all about actors and their latest releases. But the headlines seem to be what these actors are investing in, especially in startups


India, considered to be the third largest startup ecosystem in the world, has grabbed the attention of Bollywood stars for the past few years. Some of the big celebrity startup investors from the Indian entertainment industry include Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Shilpa Shetty, John Abraham, and Jacqueline Fernandez.


And the latest to join the club is actress Deepika Padukone, with her first investment in a consumer FMCG brand.


deepika padukone

Bollywood celebrities, with their star power, are now looking to make it big outside the entertainment industry. YourStory looks at some of the celebrities and their investments.


Deepika Padukone


Deepika Padukone became a startup investor by making an undisclosed investment in Drums Food International, the parent company of flavoured greek yoghurt brand Epigamia. The investment is a part of Epigamia’s recent Rs 182 crore Series C funding round, and has been made through KA Enterprises LLP, a corporate entity wholly-owned by Deepika Padukone.


Commenting on the association with the brand, Deepika said,


“Not only do I love their products, but also connect very strongly with the brand philosophy. The team has big plans for expansion, and I am excited to be closely involved as we roll out new products and enter new cities.”


Launched in 2015 by Rohan Mirchandani, Uday Thakker, Ganesh Krishnamoorthy, and Rahul Jain, Mumbai-based Epigamia has expanded its product to 21 SKUs. It is sold across 10,000 touch points, including modern trade chains like Reliance Fresh, Godrej Nature’s Basket, Foodhall, Big Bazaar, and Hypercity.


It is also available on ecommerce platforms including Bigbasket and Amazon. Going forward, the company looks to scale pan-India and enter 50,000 stores in the coming years.


Arjun Kapoor


Earlier this month, actor Arjun Kapoor announced his investment in Delhi-based home food delivery company Foodcloud.in, which aims to empower women.


Talking about the same at the time, the actor said,


“My aim at investing in Foodcloud.in is serve a larger societal purpose of empowering the homemakers to contribute towards their family income.”

 

Founded in 2014, FoodCloud is led by Vedant Kanoi along with co-founder Sanjhi Rajgarhia. The startup provides hygienic, homecooked food from the kitchen to customers.


Also read: Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, PeeCee, and now Virat Kohli: meet the star power behind young startups


Suniel Shetty


Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty invested an undisclosed amount in Pune-based health and wellness startup SQUATS in May. Along with the actor, the startup will be initiating a movement to make 50 million people fit and create one lakh jobs in the fitness space.


In the press statement, Suniel Shetty said,


“In today’s time, when all kinds of false information about fitness is common, there is a critical need for companies like SQUATS, which addresses the issue of trust and credibility in the Indian fitness space, focusing on ‘balancing quantified nutrition with weight training’ and delivering exceptional results.”


Founded in 2016 by Jitendra Chouksey, SQUATS currently has five lakh members, and claims to have recorded 70,000 fitness transformations so far. Its mobile app FITTR has received over two lakh downloads since September 2018.


Malaika Arora


Bollywood star Malaika Arora also backed a Mumbai-based fitness startup called SARVA last month. The actress participated in the $6-8 million funding round with other marquee investors including pop icon Jennifer Lopez, former American baseball shortstop Alex Rodriguez, and branded fitness platform Zumba.


SARVA was founded by yogi-turned-entrepreneur Sarvesh Shashi in 2016, and currently has 91 studios across Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru. By 2022, it aims to have 500 brick and mortar studios in 15 cities across the country and simultaneously wants to build a global community of over 100 million on its digital platform. SARVA is also looking for opportunities in global markets such as the US, UK, and the Middle East.


Priyanka Chopra


In 2018, when US-based dating app Bumble announced its entry into India, Priyanka Chopra not only invested in the app but also became its brand ambassador. She is also an advisor to the female-centric app that is available in both English and Hindi on iOS and Android.


“Women want love, they want friendship, and they want to find a career, and that’s the uniqueness of what Bumble delivers — a digital community that encompasses all that, while empowering women to take charge of their lives,” she said.


Founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in ‎December 2011, Bumble had 22 million users in November 2017.


Also read: After Priyanka Chopra, Serena Williams invests in social and dating app Bumble


John Abraham


Bollywood actor John Abraham had picked up a minority stake in Mumbai-based Guardian Healthcare, a chain of health, wellness, and beauty stores, last year. The startup works as a franchise partner of US-based health and nutrition company GNC in India.


Speaking about the funding at the time, Shadab Khan, CEO of GNC India, said,


“John is extremely passionate and disciplined about fitness and his relationship with the company will be much beyond endorsement fees.”


Shilpa Shetty Kundra


In April 2018, Bollywood actress, celebrity judge and yoga expert Shilpa Shetty invested in Gurugram-based Honasa Consumer Pvt. Ltd, which owns and operates babycare products startup mamaearth.in.


Founded in 2016 by husband-wife duo Varun and Ghazal Alagh, Mamaearth has already acquired more than 500,000 customers across 120+ cities in India. The startup has a presence in over 500 stores across the country, and is all set to reach the impressive Rs 100 crore mark by 2020.


During the investment last year, Shilpa Shetty Kundra said in a statement that the natural and chemical-free nature of the products had contributed to her decision to back mamaearth.in.


In March 2019, Shilpa also invested around Rs 10-15 crore and acquired a 50 percent stake in hotelier Ranjeet Bindra-owned Bastian Hospitality (earlier Aallia Hospitality).


Also read: This startup's B-plan and dream is to make yours come true


Rannvijay Singh Singha


Last year, Gurugram-based online lifestyle media platform What’s Up Life secured funding from actor and television personality Rannvijay Singh Singha, who also joined the company as its brand ambassador.


Commenting on the investment at the time, Rannvijay said,

 

“I liked the platform and the way What’s Up Life is reaching out to people with its engaging content and events.”


Founded in 2014 by Gaurav H Luthra as What’s Up Gurugram, What’s Up Life (WUL) curates engaging content on its social media pages, editorials, and calendar to keep users updated with all the activities and events across categories.

 

In Nov 2018, Rannvijay picked up 10 percent stake in sports management company IT Magia Solutions for Rs 1 crore.

 

He also invested in a fashion styling app IStyleYou in 2016. And recently, his one-year-old unisex retail company, Disrupt, raised pre-series A round funding from a clutch of investors.


Other celebrity investors


In 2017, Jacqueline Fernandez invested in Mumbai-based juice maker and online portal Rakyan Beverages (Raw Pressery). Actor and film producer Aamir Khan had infused $300K in Bengaluru-based online furniture rental platform Furlenco. Alia Bhatt had picked up a minority stake in Mumbai-based fashion-tech startup StyleCracker for an undisclosed amount.


Also Read: Jacqueline Fernandez turns businesswoman with Just*F, to fill a gap she personally faced


Some of the early investors from Bollywood are Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Karishma Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, and Madhuri Dixit.


Karishma Kapoor had invested in Mumbai-based kids clothing and accessories portal BabyOye in 2011. In 2012, Salman Khan picked up stake in Gurugram-based online travel company Yatra.com. In 2015, Amitabh Bachchan invested $250,000 in Singapore-based Ziddu, along with his son, actor Abhishek Bachchan. And, Madhuri Dixit invested in wearable and preventive healthcare devices startup GOQii in 2014.


Previously, director, actor, and singer Farhan Akhtar invested in a film-discovery app, Flickbay; and Gangs of Wasseypur star Manoj Bajpayee had backed Muvizz, an OTT and video-on-demand startup.

 

In May this year, Hrithik Roshan-backed fitness startup Cure.fit secured $75 million from Piramal Group’s Anand Piramal, Accel Growth, Kalaari Capital, and IDG Ventures India.


Not only Bollywood celebrities, but cricket stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni have also backed startups like Smartron, Chisel Fitness, and Run Adam, respectively.


Also Read: 11 Indian startups backed by Bollywood celebrities