When JustDial announced its IPO in June last year, VSS Mani heaved a sigh of relief. A 14-year long dream of having his company listed had come to fruition. But a more interesting story is the one of an unexpected but well-known stakeholder making money off the IPO. JustDial had signed Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador in the fag-end of 2010. He was given 62000-odd shares at a price of INR 10 each and he was roped in for a period of three years. On the day of the company’s listing, those shares were valued at INR 3.83Cr which shot up to more than INR 10 Cr early this year.
Most (certainly not all) actors just act. But smart actors have been putting their monies in startups. Ranging from big names like Salman Khan and AR Rehman, to Karisma Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and even Sunny Leone, are all invested in some or the other venture. These celebrities have either put in money or endorsed these products by becoming their brand ambassadors. While the monies that they invest definitely help, but the popularity factor that they bring into the fold is an unmatched advantage.
Let us look at some of these actors and their investee ventures.
1. Salman Khan | Yatra.com | Being Human
Yatra Online is not exactly a startup today. But for the seven-year-old travel operator, backed by the American venture capitalists Norwest Venture Partners and Intel Capital, roping in Salman Khan, who has a knack of minting crores from all of his movies, is an interesting deal.Salman has a 5% stake in Yatra.com, which is an ad-for-equity deal. For the uninitiated, an ad-for-equity clause entails promoting and marketing the brand.
Of course, all of us know about his highly popular ‘Being Human’ brand of T-shirts and watches, which is also an online shop.
2. Karishma Kapoor | Babyoye.com
Did you know that Karisma Kapoor is the single largest individual shareholder in Babyoye.com, the e-commerce store for baby products, owned by Nest Childcare Services Pvt. Ltd? Karisma has 26% stake in the company whose other investors include Accel Partners and Tiger Global. Company’s founders – Arunima Singhdeo and Sanjay Nadkarni, however, continue to own a majority stake in their startup.
“I want to share this with every young mother. I really believe in Babyoye’s vision of giving babies the right start in life,” Karisma Kapoor had said this on the website right after the announcement.
3. Ajay Devgn| Ticketplease.com
Ticketplease.com, which claims to be a one-stop portal for movies, concerts, plays and other sporting events, was launched amidst much fanfare during a promotional event for the movie ‘Jatt Yamla Pagla Deewana’. Ajay Devgn launched the venture Ticketplease.com along with founder and CEO Jimmy Mistry.
Ajay Devgn had this to say during the launch: “I truly believed in the idea and I am definitely going to invest time in writing my blogs to get closer to my fans.” Interestingly the blog was shut down after just four blog posts by Devgn.
4. Shekhar Kapur, AR Rehman | Qyuki
Two of the most celebrated creative minds of India, Shekhar Kapur and AR Rahman had launched their social media platform, Qyuki Digital Media Pvt. Ltd. in late 2012. Qyuki is positioned as a social media platform to engage Indian youth by showcasing new media content. Cisco had made a very early investment in the startup as well.
The entire Qyuki platform is built on Cisco’s cloud infrastructure. The website seems to be headed for a major revamp as of the writing of this article.
5. Suzanne, Malaika, Bipasha | The Label Corp
Founded by Preeta Sukhtankar, The Label Corp, taps into the expertise of celebrities and aims to build India’s first ‘editorial’ e-commerce brand.
Today, her company has three brands called The Home Label with Suzanne Khan, The Closet Label with Malaika Arora Khan and The Trunk Label with Bipasha Basu.
6. Hrithik Roshan | 2 undisclosed/unnamed startups
According to industry sources, Hrithik has undisclosed investments in two startups which remain unnamed. One of these is an online retailer and the other one is a newly formed company in the business of building sports stadiums.
7. Madhuri Dixit Nene | Dance with Madhuri
Madhuri Dixit leverages the power of internet via an Online Dance Academy- ‘Dance With Madhuri’ which ‘aims to help people stay fit combining Dance and Exercise.
Dance is a rather interesting space wherein other startups can innovate on the net because there are a lot of youngsters checking out YouTube videos to learn dance.
8. Sunny Leone | IMBesharam.com
Sunny Leone is the face of the online adult store IMBesharam.com
It was launched on September 1, 2012. The store sells a variety of products like adult toys, lingerie, adult products, sexy wear, sexy costumes, swim wear, footwear, party wear, lifestyle accessories and more.
9. Dino Morea | Coolmaal.net
Dino Morea got involved in e-commerce website coolmaal.net, which entails film merchandising, where they promote movies through their merchandises. Movies like ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ had their merchandise listed on the website.
We at YourStory, had Dino talking about the venture. But the website, right now, seems to be headed for oblivion.
10. Shilpa Shetty | Grouphomebuyers.com
Shilpa Shetty, along with husband Raj Kundra, is the co-founder of this property website which claims to have helped 200 families find properties at discounted prices, till date.
The site, GroupHomeBuyers.com has a listing of new and upcoming residential projects from top Indian cities. How it works is that users join a group for a specific property and when the numbers touch a minimum required ceiling, the site allows the user to make purchases at a discounted price.
11. We are leaving the last one for you to fill up. Let us know, in the comments section, which other Bollywood celebrity is involved in, has founded or backs an Indian startup. We are eagerly awaiting your replies.