Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty is also a successful entrepreneur with his own hotel and real estate business. His entrepreneurship journey started with setting up a restaurant and club in Mumbai. At the young age of 24, he moved toward fashion merchandising and was successful in building a brand called 'Mischief'.
Celebrities are increasingly becoming prolific investors in new-age startups. While the venture capital space has been dominated by ultra-high net individuals, it is now common to see Bollywood celebrities getting involved in startup investing across sectors.
Born into a traditional Shetty family in Mangalore, he started work at the young age of 16 at his father's restaurant. Suniel's strong work ethic comes from working on the field - when the world was celebrating events, he worked hard in the kitchens and at the restaurant. This drive continued to make him excel in every entrepreneurial venture he took up later, be it the trend-setting fashion destination Mischief, or creating iconic hospitality brands, his foray into real estate development, and content production hubs thereafter.
While acting remains one of his joys, Suniel has over the last several years, invested in and mentored some interesting startups. He handpicks ideas he wants to be associated with - those with the potential to solve real-life problems and championed by a team of hungry goal-setters.
Now, when Shetty is an active investor in new-age brands, he shares his journey from being a restaurateur to merchandiser, retailer to an actor, running an NGO to real estate, being a brand ambassador to mentor and from film producer to a startup founder.
"I’ve met several young professionals who have upskilled, reinvented themselves, pivoted to different industries, or made a big switch in their careers, especially in the post-Covid world. What hasn't changed though, is what one needs to do in order to succeed at making such changes and transitions," Indian actor Shetty firmly believes and emphasises.
Below given are the nuggets of wisdom and learning experiences straight from his personal and professional life in his own words-
1. Family - always take your family into confidence. If there’s any resistance, work through it. My parents, my sisters Suj & Sumi, my wife Mana and now my kids, are always a part of any key decision. My dad always said, ‘One life to live, give it your best’, and knowing I had his blessings did magic for my confidence.
2. Plan - Make a roadmap, with little milestones. Identify areas that need special focus. Speak to people, gather intelligence and prepare well. I did a whole lot of homework about the real estate business before we broke ground with our first project.
3. X Factor - Figure out what it is that you can bring to the table that most others can't. When I opened my first fashion store, I was sourcing stuff from international markets way before anyone else did. Midnight sales were a huge hit @ Mischief, probably because it was unheard of in the early 90’s.
4. Network - Build connections, and maintain them. Don’t do this with the hope of gaining something. Do it from a genuine place, and add value to their lives. Yes, be genuine in your approach to networking. Some connections, I've now nurtured for close to 40 years.
5. Improve, consistently - Keep finding ways at getting better. Upskill. It’s simple, there’s no way around this. When my team & I started our content company, I could not afford to think like a film actor or producer. I just HAD TO think and act like the Founder of a bootstrapped venture. And it meant having to reinvent and learn a lot of new things.
As a message of encouragement and inspiration he says, "For all of you who’re in the process of making a change, I truly hope these will help. Good luck, and keep going."