Bollywood stars search of new investment avenues

Big stars leverage fame and success by investing in start-ups and own brands


Sonam Kapoor. Photo: Aalok Soni/Hindustan Times
Sonam Kapoor. Photo: Aalok Soni/Hindustan Times

Given that movie stars, cricketers and other high net-worth individuals (HNIs) travel the world for work and leisure, they get to know what their counterparts from other countries are investing in. There are examples galore, of international as well as Indian celebrities, who leverage their fame and success to invest in newer avenues—be it brands, ideas, initiatives, or even business ventures.

“If we look at Hollywood and the music industry, be it Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga, they are all big-time investors in start-ups and venture funding. The trend is catching on with Indian celebrities as well,” says Anupam Guha, head, private wealth management, at ICICI Securities.

The shift has been triggered by the change of approach in choosing money managers. “Earlier, celebrities were relying more on individual chartered accountants for any financial issues. Now they are shifting to family offices, which consist of a chief investment officer, planner, estate manager and other experts,” says Guha.

The family office helps HNIs structure their finances, do asset allocation and manage cash flows, besides advising on new investment avenues.

Fitness and own brand

Sonam Kapoor

Brand: Rheson

What is it? Kapoor and her sister Rhea co-own the clothing line. It is a combination of the first three letters of the two sisters’ names. The high street brand, yet to be launched, will have clothes priced in the range of Rs.400-4,000.

Take the example of personalities like Virat Kohli who have ventured into businesses such as technology, fitness and clothing lines even though they continue to be active in their chosen fields. Kohli started investing two years ago—he first picked up a 12% stake in the Indian Super League team FC Goa in September 2014, and then launched the fashion apparel brand Wrogn, co-owned by Kohli and Universal Sportsbiz, in November 2014. He owns a chain of gymnasiums, besides being an investor and brand ambassador in London-based tech start-up Sports Convo.

Bollywood actors ranging from Anil Kapoor to John Abraham have shown an interest in technology platforms. For instance, Kapoor recently invested an undisclosed amount in Indi.com, a video-sharing platform. Abraham is looking to invest in a fintech company.

Music maestro A.R. Rahman founded Qyuki, a multimedia digital network platform, with film director Shekhar Kapur and entrepreneur Samir Bangara and has a double-digit stake in the venture.

A.R. Rahman.
A.R. Rahman.

Start-ups

A.R. Rahman

Company name: Qyuki

Company profile: The company uses technology and analytics to discover and promote digital super- stars and manages the end-to-end value chain for them across traditional and new media platforms.

The international investment space for celebrities comes across as more structured and transparent, and goes beyond the use of just the brand name. For instance, American entrepreneur and venture capital investor Jeff Stibel co-founded a venture capital firm, BryantStibel, with retired basketball star Kobe Bryant. BryantStibel unveiled a $100 million (around Rs.670 crore) vehicle in August for investing in technology, media and data companies.

“We don’t want to be in the business of investing in companies so someone can use Kobe as an endorser. That’s not interesting,” Stibel was quoted as saying in a Wall Street Journal article on 22 August. “The point is to add real value.”

Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in multiple businesses and start-ups. His latest investment, in November 2015, was in a Silicon Valley start-up, Diamond Foundry, a company that creates jewellery-grade diamonds in a lab using a plasma reactor. Diamond Foundry raised over $100 million from 12 billionaires, including Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and DiCaprio. In October 2011, DiCaprio led a $4 million funding round in the photo-sharing app Mobli.

Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher has invested an undisclosed amount in Airbnb and became a strategic adviser to the online website that enables people to list, find and rent vacation homes.

Ankit Doshi used to work for Mint.

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