India’s first individual gold medallist Abhinav Bindra is now biting the entrepreneurial bullet
He feels that a lot of startups focused on health, wellness, lifestyle and sports will be eager to have Bindra on board as investor or advisor.
As an investor, Bindra won’t be playing a passive role when scouting around for companies worth putting his money into. With his experience as a world traveller, he is on the lookout not just for unique products and services, but also the teams behind them. “Products that have a global reach are important and so are the people behind them. To make ventures successful and sustainable, we will look for people and teams that are driven by passion and hard work,” Bindra told ET Magazine.
Shooting Star is looking to invest in ventures in sports medicine, technology that transforms human behaviour, urbanisation and health.
“Bindra’s main strength is the ability to remain focused. I have been telling him for the past five years to start thinking about becoming a businessman but he was not ready to get into it before he was finished with his Olympic career. He felt he couldn’t do both at the same time,” says Marya, adding that the next few years will see the ace marksman getting wholeheartedly into the nitty-gritty of his investments. “The differentiation is his energy and ability to work hard. I know he will not take any shortcuts when working with the companies that we invest in not just as investors but as partners,” says Marya, who besides being a partner is also a friend of Bindra’s.
That India’s only individual Olympics gold medallist means serious business is clear from the fact that he has also launched a startup for athletes in his hometown Chandigarh in collaboration with TecnoBody, an Italian company. “TecnoBody is a high-performance centre dealing with medical ortho and neurological rehabilitation of athletes.
This is a sector that is quite unorganised in India and I felt there is an opportunity here,” said Bindra. He added that technology plays a huge role in the training of high-performance elite athletes, and it is missing in India. “My vision is to later introduce micro high-performance centres across the country that will allow more athletes to harness technology to improve their skills.” Each centre is expected to cost around Rs 2.5 crore to set up. Ankush Passi, 28, is the founder of ayurvedic products company Add Veda, which was Shooting Star’s first investment in February this year.
He finds a great fit between the wellness and health tag of his company’s products and Bindra, who is also its brand ambassador. “He is not just a prominent sports personality but also known for his intellect and knowledge, all in sync with our products,” said Passi. Bindra and Marya are 5% equity holders in Add Veda.
“There are a lot of opportunities in the Indian market for gluten-free health supplements. We plan to help Add Veda with distribution through pharmacies, health and wellness stores and online sales and will be investing around $1 million over the next few years,” adds Marya.
Entrepreneurial Afterlife The second investment, which was announced early this week, is in Ahmedabad-based tea and café brand Kettlery. “We are a speciality tea brand offering 75 kinds of tea and tea accessories and we also run a café. We are looking at expanding across India as well as expanding the retail outreach for our products,” says Sandeep Kotecha, founder of Kettlery. Shooting Star plans to invest $1 million spread over the next 24 months. Brand strategist Harish Bijoor says it isn’t uncommon for ace sportspersons to have an afterlife away from sports.
“Bindra’s TecnoBody is one such afterlife. I believe he will have success, depending on the savvy that he brings to the specialisation he has chosen. His success in sports will give him that easy entry and early audience,” says Bijoor. “But that’s where it will all stop. The savvy with which he handles every successive investment is what will count and build reputation. His past life in sport is only a dooropener. His afterlife in entrepreneurship will be defined by what he does.” Experts also feel it us unrealistic to compare Bindra’s journey with that of popular retired cricketers. “In his new venture, I don’t think Bindra’s ability to sell products is the key. His value addition to a business in terms of his experience, management skills and ability to attract large investors is more important,” says Varun Gupta, MD, Southeast Asia and Japan, Duff & Phelps Corporation, a global corporate finance advisory firm. He feels that a lot of startups focused on health, wellness, lifestyle and sports will be eager to have Bindra on board as investor or advisor because he is a well-educated, sophisticated sportsperson.
Bindra believes that Rio was his best Olympics, despite the heartbreak of missing a medal by a whisker. “It was the most significant Olympics — I am 33 years old, and came fourth in a young person’s sport. I did pretty well to end where I ended up.
He attributes it all to not just a lot of effort but also to being a process-driven person. That will come handy in his entrepreneurial life.