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When Creators Turn Angels Many influencers today are following the path of Bollywood celebrities and cricketers such as Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and turning into investors

By S Shanthi

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The Creator economy has revolutionized the way we consume media. Once a prerogative of only a few industries, now anyone with a good internet connection, a smartphone, and of course, compelling content, can curate content in different formats and reach a wider audience. For consumers too, this has come as a boon as they now have more choice. In the last few years, this has led to the rise of many influencers.

Most of these creators started off their journey by making simple YouTube videos, then went on to hire a team to scale up, promote brands and so on. Many of them have also taken the entrepreneurship route.

And, today we are also seeing some of them following the path of Bollywood celebrities and cricketers such as Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Karan Johar, MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and many others and into investors. For instance, in January this year, Wint Wealth has raised a funding round from many influencers in the fintech space. This included Ankur Warikoo, Pranjal Kamra, Sharique, among others. Creator-owned marketplace startup HYPD also raised funding from influencers such as Bhuvan Bam, Tanmay Bhat and Dhvani Bhanushali last month.

Diversifying Scope

"Startups in India have gone from strength to strength, receiving record-breaking capital and transforming this into both growth and returns on investors capital - producing over 70 unicorns in 2021 alone. Celebrities and social media influencers do not want to limit themselves to just acting, and investing in startups gives them a way to diversify their portfolio and risk and provides a new medium for them to earn money," said Nayan Gala, co-founder, JPIN.

However, it is not always about expanding the scope of earning. The financial windfalls from the burgeoning creator economy have enabled several influencers to give back to their industry as angel investors as well.

"This mirrors the longstanding trend of accomplished startup founders giving back to the Indian startup ecosystem by investing in several early-stage brands. Emerging as digital entrepreneurs, creators are seeing the merit in new-age, tech-backed startups such as OTT platform STAGE, creator-owned marketplace HYPD or live learning platform Growth School. This trend will ultimately contribute to the evolution of the creator economy," said Kunal Kishore Sinha, co-founder and COO, ClanConnect.

Additionally, investing in startups has become mainstream over the years. "This is because of the much broader awareness about the startup ecosystem and many more startups coming to life every day. Also, visible successes have spurred people's desire to be part of the start-up ecosystem. This could be both driven by the desire to grow wealth, diversify their asset allocation and also a desire to be clued into the ecosystem (learn, grow, bragging rights, all of it). So anyone, having money to invest is exploring this avenue (e.g., HNIs, celebrities, corporates, founders)," said Alka Goel, founding partner, Alkemi Growth Capital.

What Influencers Bring To The Table

According to GroupM INCA's India Influencer Marketing Report, the Indian influencer market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 per cent till 2025 to reach a size of INR 2,200 crore. This goes on to prove the kind of reach and impact influencers have on GenZ and millennials. So, besides capital, this reach can help startups immensely. For instance, for Wint Wealth, the idea was to make more people aware of the alternative investment opportunities by leveraging the reach of fintech influencers.

"Social media influencers are great at starting conversations and raising awareness. This is something that contributes greatly to the growth of a startup, as when a well-known figure invests in a startup and becomes the face of that brand, it helps the startup to leverage its image, credibility and the vast network of followers and strong connections, thereby making the startup more marketable - which ultimately helps in boosting sales and raising funds," said Gala.

Additionally, the stories of these creators are also inspirational for startup founders. "A lot of new-age startups understand and appreciate how digital influencers have created a brand for themselves and are operating self-sustained businesses solely on the back of their talent and passion. Their inspiring journeys have encouraged startups looking for strategic advisors to approach creators for funding to bring in substantial value beyond capital," said Sinha.

Interestingly, the business model of most of these companies revolves around creators such as their investors. But influencers are also looking at the broader consumer tech investment opportunity. "We are already seeing influencers investing in different tech-backed companies such as Wint Wealth, smallcase, and SahiCoin. As influencers become active investors, they are bound to work with financial advisors or follow their passions to diversify their investments to an array of startups that are making a real difference in their space. Potentially, we will see more influencers investing in an assortment of startups," said Sinha.
S Shanthi

Former Senior Assistant Editor

Shanthi specializes in writing sector-specific trends, interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. 


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