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The crop of some of India’s best known celebrities aren’t just masters of their own game, they are now proving to be fine businessmen and smart investors. They have taken risks and have lent their brand name, energy and resources towards ideas they have faith in which have seen them emerge as serious businessmen. In recent years, sports entrepreneurship has gained huge momentum through the several leagues involving cricket, football, hockey, tennis, wrestling and kabaddi. In some cases, celebrities have launched talent management firms that have now emerged as robust ventures, in other cases, some have launched fitness and lifestyle stores, bearing their signature styles.
Image by: Subi Samuel / Hindustan Times via Getty images
SHAH RUKH KHAN The superstar continues to be a front runner in understanding and investing into the business of cinema. Apart from starring in, producing and being involved in distributing films, Khan is also a supporter of sports, with teams across the globe.
Red Chillies Entertainment, Co-Chairman, Red Chillies Entertainment and Subsidiaries Khan’s maiden business venture, Dreamz Unlimited shut shop and was later brought back to life by him in 2002 in the avatar of Red Chillies Entertainment. Apart from film production capacities, it houses a state-of-the-art visual effects [vfx] studio - set up in 2006 - and an event management vertical too. It also deals with multimedia equipment management.
Sports Teams Kolkata Knight Riders, Co-owner Khan teamed up with his old business partner Juhi Chawla [they co-owned Dreamz Unlimited with director Aziz Mirza] and her husband Jay Mehta to buy Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), the City of Joy’s Indian Premier League (IPL) representation, with Red Chillies as the parent. Two-time champion, KKR is one of the few profitable IPL teams that bags majority of its revenue from ticket sales, its successful team merchandise sales and sponsorships.
Cape Town Knight Riders - Co-owner Khan along with the GMR Group bought a team in Cricket South Africa’s new T20 Global League in June 2017.
Trinbago Knight Riders - Co-owner Khan’s Red Chillies bought stake in the two-time Caribbean Premier league winner Trinidad & Tobago, in June 2015.
Kidzania, stakeholder Khan holds 26 percent equity stake in Imagination Edutainment India Pvt Ltd, the holding company of KidZania India, an edutainment theme park set up in India in August 2013 by him and Singapore-based businessman Paras Chandaria, who heads his family business Comcraft Group’s business in the Lion City. The other 74 percent is held by KidZ Inc, co-owned by Comcraft Group, Xander Group and Maxfield Management Ltd. Apart from lending his creative inputs, Khan also leverages his Bollywood superstar status to connect the property to brands to get new businesses.
VIRAT KOHLI The record-breaking Indian cricket captain – who ranked at 89 out of 100 on the Forbes’s World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2017 list, Kohli has used his enviable success on the field to create a formidable brand out of himself, making about $19 million from endorsements only. Kohli has since made numerous investments in sports and fashion ventures.
One8 - Owner Kohli is building his own brand, One8, to license his name to companies interested in launching Virat Kohli special edition brands. Currently, his name has been licensed to Puma for the athleisure brand and to Lux Industries for the manufacture and marketing of branded premium innerwear, socks and sleepwear. Cornerstone Sport, his sports management company, is the licence owner of One8.
Wrogn - Co-owner Launched in November 2014, Kohli co-owns the fashion retail brand by Sachin Tendulkar backed-Universal Sportsbiz which has online (Myntra) as well as offline (exclusive stores) outlets.
SportsConvo - Co-owner Primarily a content sharing and networking platform for sports fans, this London-based startup was backed by Kohli in November 2014. It allows its users to chat, make voice and video calls within the app, share photos, videos, sounds, documents and location, apart from hosting original content from different publishers.
FC Goa – Co-owner In September 2014, Kohli was announced as the co-owner of the Indian super league’s Goan team.
Chisel Gyms - Co-owner Kohli launched his own chain of gyms and fitness centres in September 2015, jointly owned with Chisel Fitness and CSE, the sister concern of Cornerstone Sport & Entertainment. While nine gyms are up and running, ten more are on the way.
Stepathlon Kids - Co-owner This technology-driven online fitness platform for kids encourages them to take a race around a ‘virtual world’. Kohli back the startup that inspires kids to stay healthy, in June 2016.
MuveAcoustics - Co-owner In January 2017, Kohli along with Hong Kong-based Zeeva, a consumer electronics company, launched MuveAcoustics, an audio solutions brand.
UAE Royals – Co-owner While Kohli is still a co-owner of this International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), the tournament has been called off for 2017 due to financial torubles.
Past Ventures Bengaluru Yodhas - co-owner He owned the Pro Wrestling League team till 2016.
Fanbox.com - Merchandising Deal In 2016, the Indian cricket team captain had a one-time merchandising deal with Fanbox.com to launch a collector’s edition box with a MotoG Turbo phone preloaded with an all-access Kohli app for his fans, a signed cricket bat and a welcome letter.
Image by: Mexy Xavier
SACHIN TENDULKAR The Master Blaster may have hung up his boots four years ago, but this sporting superstar – thanks to the expanding scope of media in his time – has been able to transform himself into a formidable brand. While his moves on the pitch were textbook-style, he was never averse to experimentation, a quality that can be seen in his varied investments too. From dabbling into restaurant businesses to fashion retail and owning sports teams, Tendulkar is still on the top of his game.
Smaaash Entertainment - Investor A sports and gaming arena, Smaaash was launched in 2009 by Shripal Morakhia, the founder of retail brokerage Sharekhan. It houses net cricket, arcade games, bowling, go-karting, virtual reality-based experiences, and more, under one roof. The master cricketer invested in the sports entertainment company in 2013.
Universal Collectabillia He backed Anjana Reddy’s Universal Sportsbiz Ltd, a sports merchandising and fashion retail start-up when she was only 23 years old. As of March 2016, Tendulkar owns 21 percent stake in the company.
SRT Sports - Sports Management Company Tendulkar established his sports management company - that also manages him today - on March 1, 2016. Both him and his wife, Anjali are listed as company directors, according to Tofler, along with Mrinmoy Mukherjee, the company’s director and CEO.
True Blue - Co-owner Launched in May 2016, this fashion retail brand was set up in partnership with Arvind Fashion Brands to cater to the urban man. The brand name commemorates the Indian cricket team’s ‘men in blue’ avatar.
Smartron - Investor Homegrown Internet of Things (IoT) and Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) startup received an undisclosed amount in investment from Tendulkar in 2016. He is also a brand ambassador for the company. Earlier this year, the company launched the srt.phone, as a tribute to the cricketing legend.
Sachin by Spartan - Investor-Advisor Tendulkar got on board with the Indian arm of the Australian sporting gear and equipment company in January this year as an investor and on the advisory board. The company’s online platform sells cricket gear, jerseys and the English Willow bat under the Sachin by Spartan brand.
Sports Teams Kerala Blasters - Co-owner In 2015, he bought 20 percent stake in the South Indian state representation in the India Super League team. He later raised the stake to about 60 percent.
Mumbai team - Co-owner Tendulkar also owns a team (since 2014) in the struggling The International Tennis Premier League (ITPL) which is on the backburner this year.
Tamil Thalaivas - Co-owner He co-owns the Tamil Nadu-based franchise (since May 2017) of the Pro-Kabaddi League along with pharmaceutical entrepreneur Nimmagadda Prasad.
Bengaluru Blasters - Co-owner In 2016, Tendulkar bought the Bengaluru franchise of the Premier Badminton League. Like his ISL team, the name of the badminton league also carries the Blasters name from his very-famous nickname - Master Blaster.
Indian Aces: Co-owns the IPTL franchise.
Past Ventures Musafir.com Long-time investor in online travel portal, Musafir.com - since 2013 - Tendulkar exited it earlier this year.
Sachin’s and Tendulkar’s – Restaurant co-owner Tendulkar dabbled with the restaurant business, with two brands under his belt – Sachin’s and Tendulkar’s. He co-owned them with Mars Group’s Sanjay Narang. While Sachin’s shut in 2005, Tendulkar’s folded in 2007.
S Drive and Sach - Stakeholder Tendulkar held a stake in the Future Group and Manipal Group joint venture that sold fitness and sports products, health supplements, fitness equipment and lifestyle accessories through Future Group retail outlets and Manipal Cure and Care outlets.
Image by: Dave M. Benett / Getty images YUVRAJ SINGH The middle-order dasher Yuvraj Singh, known for his exploits with white-ball cricket and to capitalise on a stray ball, he has not been afraid to take calculated risks. Off the field, he has the same eye for opportunity, shown by his interest in startups and his tapping of nascent markets.
YouWeCan Ventures Technologies LLP Singh co-founded a seed fund with Rs 50 crore corpus in April 2015 along with Nishant Singhal, his long-time business advisor, to invest in internet startups and to encourage entrepreneurship. Together, they have made early stage seed investments in sectors from healthcare, travel and sports to automotive, and more.
Healthians – Diagnostics startup was backed by Singh’s seed fund in June 2015.
Cartisan – July 2015, it was Bengaluru-based automotive service marketplace’s turn to get funded by him.
Sports365 – The sporting goods startup was backed by Singh’s fund way back in 2012. He is on the management team and is also a brand ambassador for the company. Tennis ace Mahesh Bhupati is the director and brand ambassador, along with Lara Dutta (brand ambassador).
Sportybeans – Singh’s fund picked up a 10-15 percent stake in this Pune-based multi-sports platform for children in 2015. Apart from being a brand ambassador, he is also involved in designing programs and sports curriculums for the company.
Startup Buddy – A startup to help set up startups, Singh’s fund invested in Startup Buddy earlier this year.
Moovo – Online booking for mini-trucks startup received a funding from YouWeCan Ventures in June 2015.
EduKart – In June 2015, the cricketer’s seed fund backed this education technology startup.
JetSetGo – Bengaluru-based online charter plane and helicopter marketplace was backed by Singh’s YouWeCan Ventures in 2016.
Carl’s Jr – In 2016, US-based Carl’s Jr, a burger chain was backed by the seed fund.
Gurukul – In July, Singh’s fund backed Delhi-based co-working space startup Creator’s Gurukul, came on board as a partner and brand ambassador.
Eazydiner – In June 2017, the online table reservation platform was backed by YouWeCan Ventures with Singh signing on as a brand ambassador too. Unlike other ventures, here the fund participated in a late stage Series B funding round.
Yral – In March 2016, YouWeCan Ventures forged a joint venture with AdLift to launch a digital marketing agency - pronounced ‘viral’ - to connect celebrities and social media influencers with brands.
YouWeCan fashion retail - YouWeCan Ventures forayed into this sector last year with the clothing range designed by Shantanu and Nikhil.
Yuvraj Singh Centre of Excellence – Founder The cricket training academy under Yuvraj Singh Centre of Excellence Private Limited, which was incorporated in July 2012, names the cricketer and his mother, Shabnam Singh as the directors. There are five academies across the country so far.
Past Investments Vyomo - App-based beauty and wellness platform had received an undisclosed amount from Singh’s fund in April 2015 but its technology and team were later acquired by Naturals Salon & Spa which led to their exit, according to Singhal.
Black Orange White Brands – A licensing deal forged with the brand licensing startup in December 2015 has since been terminated, Singhal told Forbes India.
Intelligent Interfaces - Ex-Housing.com executive Rahul Yadav’s startup Intelligent Interfaces was backed by the fund in December 2015 but the startup later folded.
Image by: Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
MS DHONI Explosive on the pitch and calm on the field, Dhoni’s unorthodox technique and icy nerves have earned him the appellation Captain Cool. Consistent, Dhoni skillfully navigated India to the top of the leaderboards. In the world of entrepreneurship, he has shown a similar steady hand at the wheel.
Seven by M S Dhoni - Co-owner Co-owner of the fitness and active lifestyle brand Seven, as it is described on the website by Rhiti Group - the sports management company that manages him - crossed a turnover of Rs 50 crore in 15 months after launch (February 2016), according to Arun Pandey, owner, Rhiti Sports Management. He said, “Approximately 40 stores will be operational by May 2018.”
FIT7 - Co-owner Dhoni co-owns fitness chain FIT7, which has approximately 20 centres in the country today.
SportsFit - Co-owner Dhoni launched his fitness centres in the country in 2012 under Sports Fit World Private Limited, incorporated on January 23, 2017, according to Tofler.
The Bike Festival of India - Co-owner He has been associated with BFI along with Rhiti Sports, since its inception. Pandey told Forbes India that the two-day biking festival will “keep happening and at larger level,” Pandey said. Sports Teams Chenaiyin FC - Co-owner Dhoni co-owns the Chennai representation of the Indian Super League since 2014 along with co-owners Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan and 11EVEN Sports chairperson Vani Dani.
Ranchi Rays - Co-owner The former Indian cricket team captain also co-owns a team in the Indian Hockey League, this time representing his homeground, Ranchi. Past Ventures Mahi Racing India team – Owner Quite the bike enthusiast - Dhoni owns several superbikes - he founded the MSD R-N Racing India team which was rebranded to Mahi Racing in 2012.