Actor-entrepreneur-investor Kunal Kapoor reveals how you can pitch to him
Rang De Basanti actor Kunal Kapoor and YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma recently caught up in Mumbai where they discussed how Kapoor’s crowdfunding platform Ketto came into being and how startups can pitch their ideas to him for investment and participation.
Actors and celebrities dabbling in the startup space, whether it’s directly or through their investment vehicles, is not really new anymore. However, the OG in many ways is Rang De Basanti actor Kunal Kapoor, who co-founded crowdfunding platform Ketto more than 10 years ago.
Kapoor, 45, was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug much earlier than Ketto though. In his teens, while at school, he first tried his hand at entrepreneurship. The failed venture didn’t stop him from taking the plunge again.
YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma recently caught up with the actor-entrepreneur-investor on why he started Ketto and how startups can pitch their ideas to him for investment and participation.
Ketto has helped raise over $150 million for various causes. The platform enables people to raise funds for health and medical emergencies, natural calamities, education, travel, short-term emergency needs, sports, competitions, arts, animal welfare, women empowerment, among other things. Ketto’s main objective is to leverage technology to optimise efficiency, reduce redundancies, and increase impact, targeting the social sector.
Kapoor said there were primarily three reasons why he started Ketto. For starters, the cost of raising funds was unbelievably high. “It was very expensive to raise funds, as high as 60-65%, 35% was actually going to the NGOs and I felt like that was unfair.”
There was another problem: once you’ve reached out to a donor, how do you reach out to them again? “If they have donated something, it’s unlikely they’ll donate in a hurry again,” he said.
But the most important reason for Kapoor was to get young people involved in the social space. “We have got so many young people, 650 million under 25 years, but there are not enough young people involved in the social space. I spoke to a lot of young people and they said, ‘look we want to do something, we want to make an impact but we don’t think it’s for us, you need a certain kind of gravity to be in the social space’.”
Kapoor figured there were people in need of help and people who were willing to help, and technology could bridge that gap by bringing them together on one platform. That’s how Ketto was born.
In case you are getting impatient about how to pitch your startup idea to Kapoor, we’ll get there. But knowing more about Kapoor and Ketto’s journey might just help you pitch better!
The proof is in the pudding
During the pandemic, Ketto had a fundraiser on its platform started by a 10-year-old girl child for migrant workers, which raised Rs 15 lakh in three weeks. The girl was moved by the plight of migrant workers who were stranded during the lockdown and were trying to make it back to their hometowns on foot, covering unbelievable distances.
“It got me thinking of the value of the right platform, for not just Ketto. Here was a little child who had empathy and she had initiated [an appeal]; she needed the right platform to act. If a platform didn’t exist she would have had the initiative but she would not have been able to take the kind of action she took.
“ What we are trying to do is to make sure that we provide the right avenue for empowerment of people that want to help,” Kapoor said.
Tech, youth, and empowerment: The heady mix
Kapoor has invested in a robotics company and is currently speaking to several gaming companies “every day”. “It just blows my mind how much it (technology) has empowered people.”
A couple of months back, Kapoor was part of a hackathon where he was judging the gaming section and there was one particular game which he found “absolutely amazing”. He wanted to meet the people who built it and was expecting an experienced team.
“I got on a call and it was this 15-year-old boy from a small town in Gujarat. He had built this game with another boy from Pondicherry, who’s 17 years old. They have never met; they have just been playing games together. They [got] together and built this game over a year and a half and that’s the power of technology…you can be anywhere in the world, you don’t even need to meet, you can get together and create something really special.”
Other than acting, investing, and being an entrepreneur. Kapoor has also started a ‘writers’ room’, where he is developing seven scripts based on ideas he has had over the years and now wants to see them made into movies.
“At the core of it, I am a storyteller, whether it is as an entrepreneur or as an actor. I think people forget that you really need to be creative and tell stories to be an entrepreneur because to disrupt something you need to be able to tell it really well.”
Among the movie scripts he’s developing, he’s producing “a couple of them” and acting in “a couple of them”.
Interestingly, one of the movies being made is via a Ketto connect. It’s based on the life of Shiva Keshavan, a six-time Winter Olympian. “Shiva Keshavan is the only India Olympian to go to the Winter Olympics six times and he participates in a sport called luge. I met him is because he was crowdfunding on Ketto to raise money to, I think, get to the Olympics at that point of time. He didn’t have enough money for his equipment and stuff, so I met him because he started a fundraiser on Ketto. Now I am making a movie on his life.”
Magic and logic
Kapoor’s parting advice to entrepreneurs and people in general was a rather special one. To learn to let go, not look for logic in everything, and to believe in magic.
“I was just thinking that there’s a difference between magic and logic, right? And I was just telling somebody that we live on a stone, which is sort of one of the many rocks, one of the billion rocks in this universe and we are sort of lit by this ball of fire that is light years away and we are still looking for logic as opposed to magic, when there’s magic happening around us all the time.”
And finally then, how can people who want to get in touch with Kapoor, whether it is for him to participate in their startups or invest, do it? “They can just email me. I am on [email protected].”
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)