Alia Bhatt To Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma: Bollywood A-listers turn into start-up superstars

Reliance Industries-owned Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (RRVL) recently announced a joint venture with Alia Bhatt-owned clothing brand Ed-a-mamma. Reportedly, RRVL is all set to take the majority stake of 51% in the brand with an aim to expand and grow the kids and maternity-wear brand. As per the company release, RRVL would work closely with Bhatt, the founder of Ed-a-Mamma and a Bollywood actress. In a joint effort, the business would be spearheaded under the strong management of its Reliance Brands Limited subsidiary.

For those caught unaware, Ed-a-Mamma brand, which is owned by Eternalia Creative and Merchandising, was started in 2020. The brand is known for its sustainable clothing options for children, and while it operates primarily online, the clothes are also sold through some big retail chains. Last year, after Alia gave birth to her first child, Raha Kapoor, in November 2022, Ed-a-Mamma expanded its product line to include maternity wear as well.

Bollywood stars and their start-ups

Clearly, after three years of her clothing brand Ed-a-Mamma, Alia Bhatt is cashing out her brand by tying up with the retail arm of one of India’s largest conglomerates, Reliance Industries. The deal would certainly give a boost to the trend of Indian movie stars putting money into start-ups.

To say the least, Alia is just one among the long list of Bollywood stars who have been actively investing in start-ups in recent times. Alia’s contemporary Deepika Padukone had launched her own skincare brand, 82°E, last year, while her husband, actor Ranveer Singh, bought a stake in beauty brand Sugar Cosmetics.

The trend of actors investing in companies started off around the early 2010s when Salman Khan, one of Bollywood’s most famous actors, was one of the few first ones to do so. Salman, at the time, took a minority stake in the travel portal Yatra in 2012. However, with India now becoming the world’s third largest start-up ecosystem, the trend has gathered momentum.

In just 2022 alone, 14 Indian actors invested money in around 18 start-up ventures, most of them being in the early or growth stages. A majority of the investments are in the direct-to-consumer (D2C) space, while the rest were in ed tech, e-commerce and food tech, among others.

But what makes a difference? Well, Alia is living proof that with a celebrity’s stardom and fan following, an eco-friendly, homegrown brand can be turned around into a successful business.

Not to miss, the likes of Shah Rukh Khan have become successful businessmen because they invested into sporting ventures and restaurants, while such as Amitabh Bachchan and Jackie Shroff faced bankruptcy because they put their money in only one basket – film production, a high-risk venture in itself.

As per experts too, partnerships between celebrities and brands lead to huge benefits. When a start-up is getting investments and promotions from a celebrity, it instantly becomes credible and is able to reach millions of consumers. Case in point, what cricketer Virat Kohli and his wife, actress Anushka Sharma, did for Blue Tribe Foods when the couple invested in the fledgling plant-based meat company. However, the brand investments also need to align with the celebs’ personal ethos. Since both Virat and Anushka are vegetarians who often advocate for the rights of animals, the brand investment seems right.

In Hollywood too, celebs like Jay-Z and Ashton Kutcher have made good money on their investments. While the former purchased a $2m stake in Uber, the actor has bet on companies like Skype and is now a venture capitalist.

Back home, Alia’s and Katrina Kaif’s early investments in Nykaa, which is now publicly listed unicorn, turned out to be successful.

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