When Gourav Jaswal, founder of Goa-based incubator Prototyze, started work on a plan for a fitness startup, he knew he needed a co-founder and brand ambassador who embodied the product. His friend Gul Panag — known largely as an actor and social activist until she turned entrepreneur — seemed the perfect fit.
“She comes with fitness credentials. She also represents an intellectual and ethical position in society, which is important to us,” says Jaswal, who started MobieFit in 2015 with Panag. The actor is the personal running coach on the startup’s app, demonstrating stretches and dispensing running and diet tips.
Celebrities no longer just endorse products or brands, they’re jumping right into the business, making angel investments or taking sweat equity. Most work with professionals, relying on the latter’s business acumen and experience to make a go of it.
India cricket captain — and the country’s most valuable celebrity brand with endorsements worth $144 million — Virat Kohli launched his clothing line WROGN with online celebrity fashion business Universal Sportsbiz (USPL), which also owns Collectabillia and Imara, a few years ago. USPL, founded in 2012, is backed by cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and recently raised Rs 100 crore from Accel Partners. Though stars in India often rise to the status of demigods, they haven’t fully exploited their brand value, feel experts. Globally, even celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who don’t have the fan following of many Indian stars, have gone on to build hugely successful celebrity fashion lines.
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