Bollywood star Salman Khan has picked up 5% stake in the travel portal Yatra.com. Khan who usually charges $1 million for an endorsement will be acting as both an investor and as a brand ambassador — a kind of “dual role” in his own words.
India’s celebrities, despite their popularity and money, has never thought about investing in startups until recently. May be they were waiting for the right time or no one has ever approached them. That’s beginning to change now. Salman Khan’s Yatra.com investment isn’t a first, though.
Karishma Kapoor, who was a leading lady of Bollywood films a few years back, has invested in BabyOye.com, a baby product eCommerce portal.
Bollywood action hero, Ajay Devgn, has likewise launched a film eTicketing site called TicketPlease.com. Sanjay Dutt is also an investor. Shilpa Shetty has invested in a group buying site GroupHomeBuyers.com. Neha Dhupia’s HerStyle sells lingerie and nightwear online.
While most of these investments are in the eCommerce space, Salman Khan’s Yatra.com investment in the travel space seems to be the only investment which isn’t selling stuff online but selling experiences online.
Bollywood’s investments aren’t any different from Hollywood’s. Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have all their own eCommerce sites and products. Hip Hop stars like LL Cool J and 50 Cent are investing in music related products.
Bollywood or Hollywood, they are looking for safe investments. Except for Justin Timerlake and Ashton Kutcher.
Justin Timberlake who bought a stake in MySpace seems to be a stand-out. Instead of endorsing a product or launching a brand, Timberlake is planning to revive MySpace.
None of the celebrity investors can match the success of Ashton Kutcher, who has invested in A-list companies like AirBnB, Foursquare, Chegg and Fab.com.
India needs to find its own Ashton Kutcher. But before that it has to produce a startup which isn’t about selling something online with a cash on delivery option and next day shipping promise.
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