Bringing Glamour and Investment to the 3rd Largest Start-Up Ecosystem in the World?

India, third-largest startup ecosystem in the world.

India has the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world after the US and China and is expected to register YoY growth at a consistent rate of 12-15%. India has witnessed the launch of more than 55,000 startups so far of which, by the end of 2020, the Indian government has recognised a total of 41,061 startups. Around 20% of these startups are tech startups.

India is now also home to the third-largest set of unicorns globally, behind the US and China, suggests a very recent Credit Suisse report. Compared to 336 listed companies with $1 billion in market capitalisation (market-cap), there are now 100 unicorns in India with a combined market-cap of $240 billion, the Credit Suisse report says.

The above statistics brings home the fact that roughly one fourth of the total number of companies valued over $1 billion in India are unicorns and they have raised funds through private funding rather than from the securities market.

India is also home to more than 50 soonicorms with potential to become unicorns by 2022. The Indian startups have been able to raise sizable ticket sizes from various global and domestic funds. The top 15 deals constituted about 40% of total deal value, demonstrating a skewed trend.


The Indian startups have been able to raise sizable ticket sizes from various global and domestic funds.

Startup investment from Business Celebrities

Anand Mahindra, known for extraordinary vision, invests in projects that he believes will be able to climb the ladder of success. Some of the startups that got lucky because of his farsightedness, vision, and thanks to his financial backup are Zoomcar,, Epic TV, NEST, Thinkerbell Labs.

The Tata Group has invested in numerous sectors of the economy over the years. Ratan Tata, the chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, is a prolific investor himself whose style of investment and funding are revered by many across the globe. And his investments are seen emerging as giants in their respective sectors. Ola Cabs is an example. An investment from the Tatas gives a boost to startups in terms of publicity, acquiring finances, credibility, culture, and brand-building. Some of the other startups funded by him are Snapdeal, Paytm, Ola, Abra, Lenskart, Urban Ladder, Urban Company, Infinite Analytics to name a few.

According to the data, the startups Ratan Tata’s own office has invested include Nestaway, Moglix, Invictus, Bollant Industries, SnapBizz, Dogspot, Tracxn, CashKaro, FirstCry, TeaBox, UrbanClap and LetsVenture, Zivame, Yourstory, Ola, Ampere Vehicles, Lybrate, Kaaryah and Holachef.

N R Narayana Murthy’s private investment entity, Catamaran Ventures, invested in many startups.

Asim Premji has invested in startups that became successful later, like iD Freshfood, Snapdeal, PolicyBazar, Myntra, Lenskart among many others.

Nandan Nilekani, Infosys co-founder, S Gopalakrishnan, have all shown interest in investing in startups.

Reliance Industries Ltd has made several acquisitions and investments in the past few years. The investments made by Reliance can be divided as follows:

RIL has put in $566 million in media and education.
$194 million in retail, $1.2 billion in telecom and internet firms.
$100 million in digital and $391 in the chemicals and energy space.

Some of the projects Mukesh Ambani has invested in are Embibe, Fynd, Grab, Den Networks, Balaji Telefilms, Hamleys and some in the pipeline are Urban Ladder, Tik Tok to name a few.

There is a plethora of established businesspersons who have invested in startups that have come to emerge big players in business.

Let us move on to the investments made by the celebrities from the film industry, sports, and other entertainment fields that bring in funds, endorsements, branding, marketing and glamour, of course.

Startup investments from Glamour World

For the last few decades, Bollywood has been one of India’s most visible global identities. Along with that, Indian cricket stars have been enjoying tremendous following and worship in India and other cricket playing countries. However, in the last few years, the India startup ecosystem has also become successful in pulling in investments from around the world. Startup innovations, entrepreneurs and the booming investor ecosystem have drawn the attention of global economic powerhouses. And there is a new breed of investors emerging too, with the rise of investments from Bollywood and Cricket.

Investors from the glamour world of Bollywood and Cricket are doing their bit for the startup ecosystems. However, beyond being brand ambassadors, Bollywood and Cricket celebrities have also taken turns in betting on startups in various sectors. While some have taken turns to be investors, some others have started up their own businesses as well.

In India, the trend of startup investments by celebrities began quite some time back. From Amitabh Bachchan to Rani Mukherjee to Sachin Tendular, the next generation of celebrity-turned-investor has names such as Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and more.

Amitabh Bachchan has invested in edutech startup Eduisfun. Earlier he had invested in Justdial for which he was brand ambassador too.

Sachin Tendulkar, the legendary cricketer, nicknamed as Master Blaster, for instance, in his second innings off the cricket field is in to encouraging entrepreneurship and investing in a number of startups — from Internet of Things (IoT) company Smartron to fashion firm Universal Sportsbiz to travel firm Musafir to sports entertainment company to sports investment firm FidelisWorld to Smaash, one of the most successful startups, that offers sports entertainment to its patrons. He had also invested in ISL team Kerala Blasters. He said “We need to support brands that are designed and engineered in India by our entrepreneurs and engineers that ably compete in the global markets.”

MS Dhoni, former Indian Cricket Captain, launched his own venture, Run Adam which is an analytics-based sports technology platform to connect athletes with resources such as coaches, sponsors, etc. He has also invested in some startups like the Bengaluru based startup Business ledger app khatabook, Cars24 as a Series D investor. M.S. Dhoni became the brand ambassador of Cars24 as a part of the relationship between him and the company.

Virat Kohli is a popular Indian cricketer known for his business acumen. Apart from having a set of his own brands such as One8 and Wrogn, the cricketer has also backed a few startups like social media tech startup, Sports Convo, and Chisel Gyms.. Additionally, he has also invested in Hong-Kong based startup Zeeve, to launch MuveAcoustics.


Startups in sectors like films, sports, entertainment, wellness, healthy food, beauty have a special edge by associating with celebrities from the glamour world.

Akshay Kumar recently invested in GOQii. Vishal Gondal, founder and CEO of GOQii said in a report, “We are extremely happy to have Akshay Kumar as part of our GOQii Family. He personifies the values that GOQii stands for and is a living example of what we advocate — exercise, eat healthy and rest well.”

Former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan accompanied by her mother invested in a Bangalore-based environmental intelligence startup, Ambee.

Former Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh invested in Healthians, a health-tech firm through his venture capital firm YouWeCan. Besides this startup, the cricket star also made investments in beauty and wellness app Vyomo, the marketplace for private jets known as JetSetGo and Moovo, a technology-based booking platform for mini-trucks.

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone began her investor journey with a multi-crore strategic partnership with Mumbai-based FMCG health-food brand Epigamia. Deepika Padukone has also been part in launching, All About You and an NGO, Live Life Foundation. Padukone has invested in Delhi-based Blu Smart, an electric cab-hailing platform which offers subscription-based car rentals, ride-sharing on both electric cars and bikes, and shared the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across Delhi NCR region.

Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor announced his investment in home food delivery company to empower women.
For Foodcloud, having a “socially conscious youth icon” like Kapoor’s support is a dream come true. He has enjoyed the homemade food by their talented home chefs in Delhi and that induced him to invest in that venture.

Popular singer Sukhbir Singh began his investments journey with LQI ,Gurugram-based beverage startup, LQI to help increase the production capacity and the geographical expansion to newer markets. Singh also invested in electric vehicle startup eBikeGo. Amritsar-based electric bike rental company eBikeGo.
Robin Uthappa, the cricketer had invested in a health-tech startup, HealthEminds which is into solving various kinds of psychological and mental issues such as depression, stress, anxiety, sleep issues, etc. The player had also made investments in iTiffin, an online tiffin startup.

Farhan Akhtar invested in Flickbay, a film discovery app which provides trailers, songs, reviews, news, ratings and everything that you want to know about movies which are playing in theatres and on televisions.

Actress Priyanka Chopra has made an investment in Bumble, a US-based dating app. Actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas who has been an active investor in a number of startups speaking about her investment mantra said that she is keen to invest in Indian startups and be at the forefront of investing in startups driven by women.

Last year, former cricket player Anil Kumble launched a startup known as Spektacom which uses state-of-the-art technologies to revolutionise sporting experiences. Power Bat is the first product which is a set of sensors which can be attached to a cricket bat to capture batting-related data points in real-time.

Yes, it is a synergy

Investment by celebrities from the glamour world infuses funds and glamour to the startups they invest in. The power of synergy that comes from a combination of funds and marketing advantage is huge. While investments from business celebrities bring in funds, business skills, credibility and glamour of another sense, those from Indian film industry and cricket bring in funds, endorsements, brand enhancement and glamour.

Their relationship with the company directly or indirectly provides much needed publicity and brand value to the startups they are associated with. This is much true for startups in the segments that can be related to the glamour and profile of the celebrities. Startups in sectors like films, sports, entertainment, wellness, healthy food, beauty have a special edge by associating with celebrities from the glamour world.

Joseph Varughese
Joseph Varughese
Joseph has 22 years of finance experience, 13 years in technology and 6 years as an entrepreneur. He writes on business life cycle, startup ecosystem and entrepreneurship.

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