Inc42's data reveals that celebrities from the entertainment industry have backed a total of 26 startups so far this year
Interestingly, several celebrities have not only embraced the role of investors but have also ventured into entrepreneurship as startup founders
As we bid farewell to 2023, Inc42 presents a comprehensive list of Bollywood celebrities who have actively embraced the role of investors, contributing to the dynamic landscape of the Indian startup ecosystem
In 2023, the Indian startup ecosystem experienced steady growth, drawing the attention of actors and celebrities who found it to be a lucrative space for investment. Inc42’s data reveals that over 19 celebrities from the entertainment industry backed a total of 26 startups so far this year.
Interestingly, several Bollywood celebrities have not only embraced the role of investors but have also ventured into entrepreneurship as startup founders. Notable names in this category include Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Akshay Kumar, and Kareena Kapoor.
For instance, Kareena Kapoor has taken on the role of cofounder at Quench Botanics, a Korean skincare brand associated with SUGAR Cosmetics’ founders Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee. Moreover, she has made an undisclosed investment in Pluckk, a direct-to-consumer fruits and vegetables brand.
Suniel Shetty has also emerged as a noteworthy name in the startup ecosystem. In 2023, he diversified his investment portfolio by supporting startups across various industries.
The trend extends beyond Bollywood, with figures from the music industry, such as The Chainsmokers and comedians like Zakir Khan and Tanmay Bhat, making strategic investments.
As we bid farewell to 2023, Inc42 presents a comprehensive list of some of the most prominent Bollywood celebrities who have actively embraced the role of investors this year, contributing to the dynamic landscape of the Indian startup ecosystem.
Editor’s Note: This compilation is not a ranking of any kind. Celebrities are presented in alphabetical order.
TV & Movie Celebs Who Backed Indian Startups In 2023
Akshay Kumar Made An Agritech Bet
Akshay Kumar stands out as an actor actively engaged in the startup ecosystem, consistently making strategic investments. This year, he, along with cricketer Virender Sehwag and some unspecified investors, invested in Two Brothers Organic Farm, an agritech startup.
In April this year, the startup announced that it would use the funding to expand the business domestically and globally. With this infusion of funds, the startup aimed to enhance the manufacturing capacity and train farmers associated with the startup.
Underlining his interest in the startup, Kumar said he was a firm believer in sustainability and the vision of Two Brothers Organic Farm aligned with his principles.
Launched by Ajinkya Hange and Satyajit Hange in 2012, the Pune-based startup sells farm produce at the farmers’ market of Mumbai every weekend to ensure a shorter value chain of buying directly from farmers, for consumers.
Besides investing, Kumar also signed a joint venture (JV) with The Good Glamm Group to enter the men’s personal care segment through the launch of a new brand. Per the terms of the deal, both sides will invest capital and work together to scale the business.
Alia Bhatt Solidified Her Baby & Mother Care Playbook With SuperBottoms
In August, Alia Bhatt invested an undisclosed amount in the baby and mom care brand SuperBottoms, joining the company’s cap table and becoming the brand ambassador.
Launched in 2016 by Pallavi and Salil Utagi, the startup offers cloth diapers, underwear, and reusable menstrual hygiene products.
An advocate for sustainability, Bhatt highlighted then that her investments were on the back of her becoming more mindful of the matter that children need a healthier planet. She also highlighted that her vision aligned well with the startup’s range of sustainable products.
It is pertinent to note that Bhatt is also an entrepreneur. She launched a kidswear and maternity wear brand, Ed-a-Mamma, in 2020, which was acquired for about INR 300 Cr by Reliance Retail in September.
Deepika Padukone Invested In Blue Tokai’s Series B Round
Deepika Padukone has been an active entrepreneur and investor for some time. This year, her investment entity, Ka Enterprises, infused an undisclosed amount in Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters’ Series B funding round.
Launched in 2013 by Matt Chitharanjan, Namrata Asthana and Shivam Shahi, Blue Tokai is an Indian speciality coffee brand. The Gurugram-based startup also operates in Japan.
In India, it has four roasteries and over 80 physical outlets across major Indian cities, including Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Mohali and Pune.
According to Padukone, she is passionate about homegrown brands and deeply values the authenticity and transparency of domestic startups. Therefore, Blue Tokai was an evident choice for her.
Last year, the Indian actor launched 82°E, a personal care brand with skincare, in partnership with Jigar Shah.
Dia Mirza Backed Good Glamm Group’s BabyChakra
In a bid to create awareness about the importance of sustainable baby and mother care products, actor Dia Mirza invested an undisclosed amount in Good Glamm Group’s BabyChakra in September this year.
The D2C brand aims to create products specifically tailored to meet the evolving needs of mothers.
As per the terms of the deal, Mirza’s role is to engage closely with the startup’s users on its community platform Good Community. This initiative helps mothers share their motherhood experiences and stories, and collaborate with doctors and care practitioners.
Founded in 2015 by Naiyya Saggi, BabyChakra is a D2C babycare brand and parenting community. It was acquired by MyGlamm in 2021, following which, MyGlamm, POPxo and BabyChakra together formed the Good Glamm Group.
Ekta Kapoor Invested In B2B Marketplace The Yarn Bazar
In June, B2B marketplace startup The Yarn Bazar announced that producer Ekta Kapoor invested in its $1.8 Mn Pre-Series A round led by Rajiv Dadlani Group and Equanimity Ventures.
Launched in 2019 by Pratik Gadia, the startup operates as a one-stop solution for all yarn-related requirements. It offers discovery, trading, financing, logistics, advisory, and market intelligence services.
It enables yarn sellers to expand their market reach, boost sales, and achieve higher margins, while buyers can effectively reduce raw material and procurement costs.
With the fresh infusion of funds, the startup had plans to build a robust leadership team and enhance tech infra.
The startup claims to have facilitated transactions worth over INR 370 Cr, with an average order value of INR 19 Lakh.
The Ayurveda Co. Lapped Up Funds From Kajal Agarwal
In its Series A funding round of INR 100 Cr, which was led by consumer-centric venture fund Sixth Sense Ventures, D2C brand The Ayurveda Co. (T.A.C) received an undisclosed amount of funding from Indian actress Kajal Agarwal.
At the time of the funding announcement, the actress said that she chose T.A.C because she believed in Ayurveda and its power to transform the world.
Launched in 2021 by Shreedha Singh and Param Bhargava, the brand offers ayurvedic products across categories such as skincare, haircare, natural makeup, and more. It also sells wellness products like immunity boosters and other supplements.
T.A.C has an offline presence in 15 Indian states, including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi NCR, and Rajasthan. The Gurugram-based D2C brand has plans to emerge profitable by FY25. The company claims to have witnessed 4X growth in FY23 to INR 45 Cr from INR 12 Cr in FY22. The founders aim to generate revenues to the tune of INR 150 Cr in FY24.
Kareena Kapoor Khan Made Two Strategic Bets This Year
In August, Kareena Kapoor Khan invested an undisclosed amount in the D2C fruits and vegetables brand, Pluckk. Besides, she also became the brand ambassador of the brand, which offers over 400 products across 15+ categories.
Established in 2021 by Prateek Gupta, the startup operates in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune. It has plans to expand to more geographies in the coming quarters.
Moving on, in October, the actress invested an undisclosed amount to launch a Korean skincare brand, Quench Botanics, in a joint venture with the cofounders of SUGAR Cosmetics, Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee.
As a cofounder of Quench Botanics, her role is to scale the omnichannel brand and offer Korean skincare solutions at ‘affordable’ prices. Quench claims to be a ‘made in Korea’ skincare brand that is tailor-made for Indian skin and weather conditions.
Singer Lucky Ali Champions Hyperlocal Innovation With Investment in Knocksense
Legendary singer Lucky Ali infused an undisclosed amount of capital in content startup Knocksense’s Pre-Series A round.
The funding round also saw the participation of Nazara Technology’s CEO & founder Nitish Mittersain and Teamwork Arts’ Mohit Satyanand.
Established in 2016 by Vibhore Mayank &Varul Mayank, Knocksense is a Lucknow-based youth-focussed hyperlocal content commerce platform.
It actively involves brands and communities from Tier-II cities, providing its user base with hyperlocal digital content, recommendations, events, and business opportunities.
At the time, Lucky Ali said that the startup’s idea of fostering an authentic community to connect the youth in smaller cities with greater opportunities through engaging content and commerce is what attracted him to invest in the startup.
Malaika Arora Stepped Up Her Fitness Playbook With Get-A-Whey
In January this year, actress Malaika Arora invested an undisclosed sum in healthy dessert startup Get-A-Whey. The startup also appointed her as the brand ambassador.
Launched in 2019 by Jash Shah, Pashmi Shah and Jimmy Shah, the startup offers low-calorie, high-protein desserts such as ice-cream sandwiches, popsicles, kulfis, and ice creams.
With Arora on board, Get-A-Whey also had plans to introduce keto cheesecakes, vegan gelatos, and other healthy desserts.
Back then, the startup said that it would use the funds to expand its offline and online footprint across India. Besides, it had plans to expand its product line, manufacturing capabilities and strengthen sales channels.
Masaba Gupta Ramped Up Her Luxury Fashion Folio With Purple Style Labs
An Indian fashion designer and actress Masaba Gupta infused an undisclosed amount into Purple Style Labs’ $14 Mn Series C funding round, which was led by ValueQuest, ScaleFund, and Singularity Growth Opportunities Fund I.
Founded by Abhishek Agarwal in 2015, Purple Style Labs retails high-end designer brands under Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop brand. It also incubates young designer brands and helps them with sales, marketing, and technical support.
Gupta backed the startup in April and also participated in its latest round as an existing investor.
Purple Style Labs acquired Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop in 2018 and claimed to have scaled Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop over 70X in the last five years.
Actress Nayanthara Infused Funds In D2C Superfoods Brand The Divine Foods
Actress Nayanthara, along with her husband filmmaker Vignesh Shivan, infused an undisclosed amount in Chennai-based The Divine Foods in October.
Launched in 2019 by Kiru Maikkapillai, The Divine Foods is a direct-to-consumer (D2C) foodtech startup. It specialises in making products from traditional superfoods such as turmeric, moringa, and millet.
The startup secured the funds to scale up its infrastructure and expand its product line.
The D2C startup, which has also received a grant from the Tamil Nadu government under its flagship seed funding scheme TANSEED 4.0, wanted to use funds to create brand awareness among the masses and encourage other celebrities to support native businesses.
Shark Tank India-Featured Clensta Onboarded Parineeti Chopra As An Investor
Actress Parineeti Chopra pumped an undisclosed amount of funding into sustainable personal care startup Clensta in July 2023 and joined the startup as its ambassador.
Founded in 2016 by Puneet Gupta, Clensta offers sustainable products spanning categories such as wellness, haircare, skincare, among others. The D2C brand’s unique selling proposition (USP) lies in offering consumers clean, effective and sustainable solutions that minimise the carbon footprint.
Explaining her investment thesis then, Chopra had touted Clensta’s focus on ‘ethical and conscious’ product development. Gupta, on the other hand, said that the actor understood the company’s long-term vision to make ‘sustainable, affordable and effective personal care solutions that are locally made for one and all.’
The startup even featured on the maiden season of the popular show Shark Tank India. The brand also recently appointed former Mamaearth SVP Ashish Mishra as cofounder and chief business officer (CBO).
Sanjay Dutt Infused Capital In Alcobev Firm Cartel & Bros, DawnTown
In June this year, Bollywood’s Munna Bhai Sanjay Dutt injected an undisclosed amount of funds into alcobev startup Cartel & Bros.
Manish Sani of Living Liquidz, Jittin Merani of Drinq Barmen & Academy and Rohan Nihalani of Morgan Beverages are other investors of Cartel & Bros which is a partner venture registered in 2021.
At the time of the funding announcement, the startup said that it would set up a factory in Scotland and would price its products in a manner that they are accessible to a larger number of people.
Shilpa Shetty Kundra Made Two Bets On The Indian Startup Ecosystem In 2023
Launched in 2021 by Bhuman Dani, Monish Debnath and Soumalya Biswas, WickedGud is a Mumbai-based ready-to-cook D2C brand that sells products such as pasta and noodles, which it claims are made using healthy ingredients.
On the other hand, KisanKonnect was launched in 2020 by Vivek Nirmal and Nidhi Nirmal. The agritech startup claims to source food directly from its network of 5,000 farmers through its village-level collection centres and then deliver it to its consumers in Mumbai and Pune.
Shetty Kundra infused capital in WickedGud as the startup’s brand values and mission statement aligned well with her investment thesis and her love for both food and fitness.
With regards to KisanKonnect, Kundra cited considerations such as solving the problem of safe-to-eat food and promotion of health in the country.
The year also saw the actor offload 13.93 Lakh shares during the listing of D2C unicorn Mamaearth, which at the upper limit of INR 324 implied a cumulative sum of INR 45.13 Cr.
Singer Sukhbir Singh Backed Vegan Wellness Brand Fitspire
In August, Bollywood singer Sukhbir Singh invested an undisclosed amount in vegan healthcare and personal care product startup Fitspire’s pre-Series A funding round.
The round also saw participation from Ashish Chand and Sohil Chand of LC Nueva, Ivor Braganza of Next5 Ventures Oman and Redcliffe London’s Dheeraj Jain.
At the time, Fitspire said that it would use the funds to boost the health and personal care ecosystem in India, expand its reach in India and abroad, launch new products and add new revenue streams.
Launched in 2020 by Vipen Jain, Delhi-based Fitspire addresses contemporary lifestyle concerns and offers healthy nutrition supplements.
It claims to have over 1 Mn customers and a network of 10K fitness influencers. Earlier, the startup raised $1 Mn in seed and bridge rounds.
The startup has plans to garner revenues to the tune of INR 300 Cr in the next three years.
Actor Turned Entrepreneur Suniel Shetty Backed Multiple Startups This Year
In May, the actor backed WAAYU, a no-commission food delivery platform that intended to end the dominance of Swiggy and Zomato in the food delivery space.
Founded by Anirudha Kotgire and Mandar Lande, the startup’s zero-commission playbook encouraged restaurants to operate on competitive pricing and pass on benefits to their customers.
In June, Shetty invested an undisclosed amount in Mumbai-based Klassroom Edutech’s Pre-Series A round.
Founded in 2016 by the mother-and-sons trio of Alka, Dhruv and Dhumil Javeri, the edtech startup is working on supporting rural and urban students with affordable, accessible, accountable and flexible education.
At the time of the infusion of funds, the startup said that it would use the capital to shore up its tech and scale offline presence.
Further, In July, the actor acquired a minority stake in Pro Panja League, a professional arm-wrestling tournament launched by the celebrity couple Parvin Dabas and Preeti Jhangiani through their company Panja Sports.
Similarly, in August, the actor invested an undisclosed amount in REGRIP India Private Ltd, a re-engineered tyre startup brand.