Growing up in a Bollywood family, with actor Arjun Kapoor as your brother and film producer Boney Kapoor for a father (and of course, there is the extended circle that includes cousin Sonam Kapoor and half-sister Janhvi Kapoor), it’s no cake walk, navigating through life and choosing entrepreneurship over acting. But Anshula Kapoor, who turned an entrepreneur with the launch of her charity platform last year, appears to be managing this new phase in her life with ease.
The 27-year-old is at the helm of Fankind, a one-of-its-kind startup that connects fans with their favourite celebrities while aiding charitable causes. Now whether it is a jet ski ride with actor Kriti Sanon that ups your excitement or a helicopter ride with Dhadak girl, Janhvi Kapoor, Anshula’s celebrity fundraising and charity platform curates it all. And that’s not all. The proceeds collected from each experience is donated to charitable organisations across the country, with a little help from GiveIndia, Fankind’s philanthropy partner.
“It started with me wanting to spread joy and happiness and that translated into a startup,” says Anshula about the idea behind Fankind. “It combines the love fans have for role models and celebrities and also their desire to give back to the community in any way they can.”
It’s a win-win situation for both celebs and fans, Anshula adds, attributing her success and the inception of her venture to her late mother, Mona Shourie Kapoor.
“My mom was always a big believer in giving back, so these ideas just came together organically and that’s the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey,” she adds.
An Organic Process
The inception of Fankind – and along with that Anshula’s decision to take the entrepreneurial leap – was less of a conscious decision and more of an organic process.
“I was toying with the idea of trying to do something on my own that leaves an impact,” she recalls. “Now, because of the family that I come from, fans have always been a part of our periphery, part of our universe. And I always have had a very good relationship with Arjun [Kapoor’s] fans… all of this came to a circle at Sonam didi’s [Kapoor] wedding last year.”
It started out as an initiative uniting celebrities, fans, and charities. With more than 30 celebrities and charities participating on the platform in the first year itself, Fankind closed its very first campaign with actor Varun Dhawan. It has been close to a year since then, and the platform has grown with more popular names getting attached to the charity platform, including actor Alia Bhat and YouTube star Prajakta Koli.
Adding on the kind of influencers and stars she intends to work with, Anshula says, “The definition of a celebrity in our country is a lot more fluid… [On Fankind] everyone is welcome as long as they want to collaborate with us, and they want to give back to their fans and to a cause they believe in. The more the merrier!”
Acting was not on the “radar”
From a star-kid to being recognised as an entrepreneur in her own right – she was recently honoured with the MOM Woman For Tech Award at the MTV-IWM Digital Awards – Anshula has indeed come a long way. The young Founder enjoys a following of her own today, but she is also quick to add that none of this fits the “coming out of the shadows” metaphor. If anything, just like her family, she is doing her part to bring joy and happiness to the fans.
“It’s just that I am not interested in acting,” she explains. “I am camera-shy, I get really nervous and scared when I am in front of the camera. So, acting was not something that I ever thought of doing; filmmaking wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind either.”
She adds that giving acting a miss wasn’t so much of a conscious decision; it was more about doing something she felt comfortable about. A reason, perhaps, why her education also had little to do with thespian skills – Anshula studied urban planning at the Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City for almost four years with an aim to get a job at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and travel the world with them.
“Bollywood isn’t something that was on my radar. I feel more comfortable exploring the entrepreneurial journey which I am on right now,” she adds.
Making a mark as a women entrepreneur
As a 20-something entrepreneur, Anshula – who counts Indra Nooyi, Former CEO of PepsiCo; Pooja Dhingra, Founder of Le15 Patisserie; and actor and global icon Priyanka Chopra as her inspiration – is among a growing, albeit small, tribe of young women who are matching step-to-step with their male counterparts in the entrepreneurial world.
A self-confessed homebody, the Fankind founder says that the biggest challenge she has faced so far in this journey was to be taken seriously. “As a 20-something female entrepreneur who doesn’t come from a business family, my first few interactions involved people trying to underestimate either me or my idea,” she shares. Her approach to such orthodox opinion is pretty simple – instead of looking at them as hurdles, she treats each of these encounters as a learning experience.
Perhaps, it gets a whole lot easier to stay rooted when you have humble examples of success in the family itself. Anshula, who comes from the family that made the cult classic Mr.India, quips, “If they remain grounded, remain true to themselves, there’s no reason for me to not to be.”
(Edited by Athira Nair)