HomeEntrepreneurshipStartupsA-Listers Spice Up Their Portfolios with Bold Bets on India's Booming F&B...

A-Listers Spice Up Their Portfolios with Bold Bets on India’s Booming F&B Startups

As India solidifies its position as the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, the involvement of celebrities in startup investments has gained significant traction.

In recent years, celebrities have demonstrated growing support for F&B startups, either through investments or by venturing into entrepreneurial pursuits. Divas such as Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Kareena Kapoor, and Shilpa Shetty have delved into F&B startup investments, endorsing products, or launching their own initiatives.

Here is a list of celebrities who have made investments in F&B startups:

1. Deepika Padukone:

Deepika Padukone, a leading actress has not only achieved immense success on the silver screen but has also solidified her position as a savvy investor.

In 2017, Padukone established KA Enterprises LLP, a firm dedicated to overseeing her financial matters and engaging in investments in startup ventures.

She boasts an impressive net worth of approximately INR 500 Cr, attributed not only to her highly successful Bollywood career but also to a substantial portfolio of strategic investments in promising startups. Here are some of these emerging F&B ventures that have received her financial backing:

  • Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters:
Blue Tokai Co-Founders: Shivam Shahi, Namrata Asthana, Matt Chitharanjan

Established in 2013 by Matt Chitharanjan, Namrata Asthana, and Shivam Shahi, Blue Tokai, a specialty coffee brand, functions as a coffee roasting company in both India and Japan. With four roasteries and a presence in over 80 physical outlets across major Indian cities, the brand not only provides a variety of ready-to-drink products but also offers diverse gifting options.

Presently, Blue Tokai is located in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Mohali, Pune, and other cities in India. Additionally, the brand organizes frequent pop-ups in Tokyo.

In the realm of business-to-business (B2B) engagements, Blue Tokai has formed partnerships with various retail establishments throughout India, luxury hotels, restaurants, leading corporate entities, and co-working spaces, among other collaborators.

In September 2023, Deepika Padukone invested an undisclosed amount in Blue Tokai’s Series B funding round.

Commenting on the investment, Padukone said, “As someone who is immensely passionate about homegrown brands and deeply values authenticity and transparency, investing in Blue Tokai was an evident choice.”

Continue Exploring: Bollywood star Deepika Padukone invests in specialty coffee brand Blue Tokai

  • Epigamia:
Epigamia

Epigamia, established in 2015 by Mirchandani, Uday Thakker, Chef Ganesh Krishnamoorthy, and Rahul Jain, initially introduced itself as a Greek Yogurt brand. Over the years, the brand has diversified its offerings to include artisanal curd, snack packs, mishti doi (an Indian sweet curd), and smoothies. With a product range spanning 21 stock-keeping units, Epigamia has successfully penetrated 10,000 retail touchpoints, including major outlets such as Big Basket, and Amazon, as well as various general traders across key cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, and Kolkata.

In 2019, Deepika Padukone participated in a Series C funding round led by Belgium-based consumer-focused investment firm Verlinvest, DSG Consumer Partners, and Danone Manifesto Ventures, the venture investment arm of the French multinational food company Danone. While the exact investment amount remains undisclosed, Padukone also took on the role of a brand ambassador for the startup as part of the deal.

At the time, Deepika Padukone had said, “Not only do I love the products but also connect very strongly with the brand philosophy. The team has big plans for expansion and I am excited to be closely involved as we roll out new products and enter new cities.”

  • Supertails:
Vineet Khanna, Varun Sadana, Aman Tekriwal, Co-Founders of Supertails

Supertails, a pet care startup headquartered in Bangalore, was established by former Licious executives Vineet Khanna, Varun Sadana, and Aman Tekriwal. This digital platform is designed to meet the needs of pet owners in India by providing comprehensive services. Supertails offers veterinary care, serving as a one-stop solution for pet food and supplies. The platform operates as a fully digital telehealth consultation service and facilitates doorstep delivery of pet supplies nationwide.

In July 2021, Supertails secured $2.6 million in a Pre Series A funding round, spearheaded by Saama Capital and DSG Consumer Partners. Other notable contributors to the funding included Whiteboard Capital, Titan Capital, and Sauce VC.

During the same funding round, Deepika Padukone also made an undisclosed investment in the company.

2. Anushka Sharma:

Anushka Sharma, the acclaimed Bollywood actress, has garnered admiration for her exceptional talent and mesmerizing on-screen portrayals. In the year 2022, she expanded her endeavors into the realm of investments.

  • Blue Tribe Foods:

In February 2022, she along with her husband Virat Kohli made an undisclosed investment in plant-based meat startup Blue Tribe.

Established in 2017 by Sandeep Singh and Nikki Arora Singh, Blue Tribe is a startup specializing in meat alternatives. The company offers a range of plant-based meat products, including frozen minced chicken, chicken nuggets, keema, sausages, and momos. These products mimic the taste, appearance, texture, and cooking properties of meat while being entirely plant-based.

Sandeep Singh & Niki Arora Singh, Founders, Blue Tribe Foods (Credits: vegconomist)

The startup’s offerings are primarily crafted from a blend of pea, soybean, lentils, grains, and various vegetarian ingredients, delivering a combination of proteins, vitamins, and other essential nutrients.

Blue Tribe has also partnered with the Indian arm of the Good Food Institute (GFI), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting plant-based alternatives for meat, dairy, and eggs.

As per a Meticulous Research report, the global plant-based food market is anticipated to reach $74 billion by 2027.

  • Slurrp Farm:
Shauravi Malik and Meghana Narayan, Co-Founders, Slurrp Farm (Credits: Entrepreneur.com)

Established in 2016 by Meghana Narayan and Shauravi Malik, Slurrp Farm is a company dedicated to crafting wholesome snacks tailored for children. Their product lineup encompasses a variety of cereals, milk mixes, and snacks, featuring convenient options like ready-to-mix pancakes, cakes, dosas, noodles, and pastas.

Wholsum Foods, the parent company of Slurrp Farm, distributes its offerings via its official website and various online marketplaces. Currently, the company has successfully solidified its footprint in India, the UAE, the US, and the UK, extending its services to customers across these geographical regions.

In April 2022, Slurrp Farm secured an undisclosed investment from Anushka Sharma. Under the terms of the agreement, Sharma also assumed the role of a brand ambassador for Wholsum Foods.

In the fiscal year 2021-22, the company achieved an Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) surpassing INR 50 crore, marking an impressive tenfold growth between June 2020 and December 2021. Moving forward, the company aims to attain a revenue milestone of INR 500 crore by the year 2025.

3. Kareena Kapoor Khan:

Kareena Kapoor Khan, renowned for her glittering Bollywood career, has expanded into investments in the food and beverage space. Despite acknowledging her lack of business acumen, she entered the food and beverage domain by investing in Pluckk, a direct-to-consumer fruits and vegetables brand.

  • Pluckk:

Established in 2021 by Prateek Gupta, this Mumbai-based startup provides a diverse range of over 400 products spanning 15+ categories, such as essentials, exotics, hydroponics, and cuts. With seed funding from Exponentia Ventures, Pluckk has established a robust presence in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Pune, and has ambitious plans for further geographical expansion.

Apart from Pluckk’s dedicated consumer-focused app, it distributes its products through various marketplaces and quick-commerce platforms. These include Amazon, Swiggy, Dunzo, Zepto, and Reliance Signature Stores, enabling them to connect with a broader customer base.

In August 2023, Kareena Kapoor invested an undisclosed amount in the brand and took on the role of its brand ambassador.

Continue Exploring: Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor Khan backs D2C startup Pluckk as brand ambassador and investor

In May 2023, the startup also acquired the DIY meal kit platform KOOK for $1.3 million in a cash and equity deal.

Continue Exploring: Food-tech startup Pluckk acquires KOOK to tap into growing demand for DIY meal kits

4. Shilpa Shetty:

Shilpa Shetty Kundra, an actress, film producer, dancer, businesswoman, and author has diversified her portfolio beyond the realms of entertainment.

Having actively engaged in various ventures, Shetty has witnessed a consistent rise in her net worth over the years. As of 2023, her estimated net worth is $20 million, reflecting a continuous upward trend from $10 million in 2018 to $18 million in 2022.

  • WickedGud:

Mumbai-based WickedGud, a ready-to-cook D2C brand, specializes in products like pasta and noodles, ensuring they are crafted with wholesome ingredients. The startup asserts the use of innovative Steaming and Convection Air Drying (SCAD) technology in the manufacturing process of its products.

Established in 2021 by Bhuman Dani, Monish Debnath, and Soumalya Biswas, the startup gained widespread recognition when its founders appeared on Shark Tank India. Post that, the startup expanded into international markets, including the UAE, Singapore, Mauritius, and Nepal.

Bhuman Dani, Monish Debnath, and Soumalya Biswas, Co-Founders, WickedGud

In May 2023, Shilpa Shetty infused INR 2.25 Crores into the brand and concurrently assumed the role of its brand ambassador.

Continue Exploring: WickedGud secures significant funding as Shilpa Shetty invests INR 2.25 Crore, reinforcing brand presence

In August 2023, the company unveiled its ambitious goal of achieving a net revenue of INR 700 crores and an EBITDA of INR 100 crores over the next seven years.

  • Kisankonnect:

Kisankonnect, established in 2020 during the Covid pandemic by founders Vivek Nirmal and Nidhi Nirmal, is a fully integrated fresh produce agritech startup. Transforming the conventional supply chain, this Mumbai-based company has embraced a direct-to-consumer approach. Leveraging a network of 5,000 farmers and village-level collection centers, Kisankonnect directly sources food from these farmers, eliminating middlemen for a seamless and transparent supply chain. The harvested produce is efficiently delivered to consumers in Mumbai and Pune, granting them access to high-quality farm-to-fork products.

Furthermore, the startup manages the cultivation of around 1.75 lakh acres of land, allowing them to provide a diverse selection of over 200 varieties of vegetables and 100 types of fruits via their online platform.

In May 2023, Kisanconnect received undisclosed funding from the celebrity Shilpa Shetty as part of its angel round.

Speaking about her investment in the startup, she said, “Not only are they (Kisankonnect founders) solving the problem of safe-to-eat food, but they are also connecting thousands of farmers directly to the consumers, resonating with my thoughts about promoting health in my country, where agriculture is one of the major occupations.”

Continue Exploring: Kisankonnect, the omni-channel ‘farm-to-fork’ startup, receives funding boost from Shilpa Shetty Kundra

The startup recently secured INR 31 crore (approximately $3.75 million) in a pre-series A round, with Green Frontier Capital (GFC), a climate tech-focused fund, leading the investment.

Continue Exploring: Shilpa Shetty-backed agritech startup KisanKonnect secures INR 31 Crore in pre-series A funding led by Green Frontier Capital

Analysis indicates that Indian agritech startups have secured more than $2.4 billion in funding since 2014.

5. Samantha Ruth Prabhu:

Ruth Prabhu, one of the most highly paid actresses in South India, has expanded her portfolio into the food and beverage industry through her investment in the superfood brand ‘Nourish You’.

Established in 2015 by Rakesh Kilaru, Krishna Reddy, and Sowmya Reddy, Nourish You specializes in offering nutritious snacks and products based on quinoa and chia seeds through its website and various e-commerce platforms. The startup competes in multiple categories with other ventures like Slurrp Farm and The Whole Truth.

In March 2023, Samantha Prabhu made an undisclosed investment in the startup. Her investment was a part of Nourish You’s $2 million seed funding round that occurred in January, featuring participation from angel investors such as Y Janardhana Rao from Triumph Group, Rohit Chennamaneni, co-founder of Darwinbox, and Nikhil Kamath from Zerodha, among others.

Speaking on the investment, Samantha said, “Investing in Nourish You was a natural progression since I have been consuming their products for a while… I believe that Nourish You can create value while making a positive impact on the health of consumers as well as the planet. I’m excited to partake in their innovative and sustainable approach to business.”

As per a report, the market size of the Indian healthy foods segment is projected to reach $30 billion by 2026.

6. Nayanthara:

Known as the Lady Superstar, Nayanthara holds the title of the highest-paid female actor in the South. Alongside her filmmaker husband Vignesh Shivan, the actress has infused an undisclosed amount into The Divine Foods, a Chennai-based venture.

Continue Exploring: Actor Nayanthara and director Vignesh Shivan invest in superfoods brand, The Divine Foods

Established in 2019 by Kiru Maikkapillai, The Divine Foods specializes in crafting products using traditional superfoods like turmeric, moringa, millet, and more. The company’s offerings encompass a diverse range, including turmeric oil, turmeric golden milk, masks, turmeric drinks, turmeric powder, honey, and various other products.

The direct-to-consumer (D2C) startup, having secured a grant from the Tamil Nadu government through its flagship seed funding initiative TANSEED 4.0, aimed to utilize the funds for building brand awareness among the general public. Additionally, the company sought to inspire other celebrities to lend their support to local businesses.

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