India is on its way to becoming one of the largest startup ecosystems in the world, resulting in a spurt of high net-woth individuals (HNIs) like Bollywood celebrities and cricketers investing in companies to grow their wealth and support meaningful causes. From Virat Kohli to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, top Indian stars have started buying stakes in budding businesses ranging from femtech, cosmetics, sports and nutrition—because everyone can do with a sprinkle of stardust, right?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative has attracted the attention of a lot of foreign and domestic investors to the Indian startup ecosystem, which consists of over 100 billion-dollar companies, angel investors, venture capital firms, industrialists and HNIs. The Indian rendition of the acclaimed TV show Shark Tank, featuring ‘sharks’ and bigwig entrepreneurs such as Vineeta Singh of Sugar Cosmetics, Ashneer Grover of BharatPe and Peyush Bansal of Lenskart, among others, further reinforced the startup culture in the nation, encouraging people to become business owners.
Besides being the face of up and coming startups and brands, many celebrities have even embraced entrepreneurship post their successful investments in companies from diverse sectors—a great way to put their money where their mouth is.
Here are the celebrities who have invested in Indian startups in the last few years.
Padukone recently invested in Mumbai-based wellness and tech startup Nua, which was founded by Ravi Ramachandran, Projjol Banerjea, and Swathi Kulkarni in 2016. The subscription-based direct-to-consumer (D2C) femtech startup, bagged $7.1 million in funding from various investors including Deepika Padukone in 2021.
The brand is planning to work closely with Padukone to design and offer the most optimum wellness solutions for women with the help of technology. Nua delivers female hygiene products including a variety of sanitary pads, panty liners and intimate washes to subscribers’ doorsteps as per the dates of their last menstrual cycle, and customises the whole package according to each customer’s needs.
Nua is aiming to eradicate the stigmas surrounding menstruation, sex education, and improve women’s overall health with the help of its enthusiastic online community and loyal subscribers, one pad at a time.
Another B-Town celebrity to turn investor is celebrated actor Ranveer Singh. Singh, along with actress Tamanna Bhatia who invested in SUGAR Cosmetics, a beauty company helmed by shark Vineeta Singh. The brand is a leading omnichannel beauty company which was started in 2012, and offers cruelty-free make-up and other cosmetic products.
SUGAR’s association and partnership with Singh is surely elevating the company’s brand identity and brand recall while cementing its status as a cult-favourite go-to. Singh invested an undisclosed amount in the company which received $50 million in a series D round, under the leadership of L Catterton’s Asia fund.
Ace cricketer and environmental advocate Virat Kohli has an impressive investment portfolio comprising startups including Delhi-based Rage Coffee, plant-based meat company Blue Tribe, health and fitness startup Chisel Fitness, insurtech startup Digit and food startup Nueva to name a few.
One of our favourites among these is Rage Coffee, which is a D2C brand founded in 2019 by entrepreneur Bharat Sethi with the aim of manufacturing vitamin-infused, vegan-friendly instant coffee alternatives in a myriad of delicious flavours. Customers can get their hands on their products, which are reportedly made from beans sourced from different coffee plantations in India and abroad, through online platforms, the brand’s website as well as over 1000 offline stores made possible by a network of distributors in each city.
One half of power-couple ‘Virushka,’ Anushka Sharma is an investor in a number of startups, the most significant one being Mumbai-based Blue Tribe Foods , founded by Nikki Arora Sigh and Sandeep Singh in 2019. Advocating for planet-friendly alternatives to meat, Blue Tribe offers plant-based meat products made from soybeans, grains, peas, lentils, and other vegetarian ingredients that perfectly emulate the look, feel, texture and taste of meat, sans the blood on your hands. This allows consumers the indulgence of meat without having to sacrifice on taste.
Virat and Anushka’s investment added a lot of value to an already stellar product range given that the brand’s principles, ethos and identity align with their own personal values. Blue Tribe’s products are ideal for non-vegetarian eaters on the cusp, wanting to switch to environmentally friendly and healthier food products without having to compromise the flavour of their favourite meat delicacies.
After having them on board as investors and brand ambassadors, CCO Sohil Wazir said in a statement, “Virat and Anushka are an iconic couple and partnering with them has helped generate a lot of awareness about the category, something that organically might have taken years to build. They are also synonymous with a plant-forward lifestyle and provide consumers with more confidence while switching to a plant-forward diet”.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Former Miss World and global superstar Aishwarya Rai Bachchan invested in a Bengaluru-based healthcare startup, Possible, to encourage people to eat healthy, combat diseases and better their lifestyle and health with the help of research and technology. Possible, previously known as Truweight Wellness, is a nutrition application backed by expert nutrition coaches, dieticians and scientific analyses offering personalised diet plans and fitness consulting. The startup, which was founded by McKinsey colleagues Vishnu Saraf and Megha More in 2015, raised ₹5 crore from the actress in 2021 in its Pre-series B funding round.
The application offers customised health, wellness and diet-based weight loss plans, personal diet coaches, video tutorials, a kit of superfoods delivered monthly and other useful services to its subscribers. Through the app, customers can have access to over 70 specially formulated nutritious superfoods and more than 100 expert nutrition coaches to aid them in maintaining a wholesome diet, dealing with lifestyle-related disorders such as obesity, PCOS, thyroid and diabetes, and living a healthy life.