Toothbrushes to Billions: How Ronnie Screwvala Built a Rs.12,800 Crore Empire

Tracing Ronnie Screwvala's astounding journey from starting as a toothbrush manufacturer to building a ₹12,800 crore empire in Bollywood and beyond.

Toothbrushes to Billions: How Ronnie Screwvala Built a Rs.12,800 Crore Empire

Friday December 15, 2023,

2 min Read

Ronnie Screwvala, the richest man in Bollywood with a net worth of Rs.12,800 Crore, is a testament to the diverse and dynamic nature of the Indian film industry. However, his journey to this pinnacle was far from straightforward. Born on September 8, 1956, Screwvala began as an entrepreneur, initially founding a toothbrush manufacturing company. His first foray into the entertainment industry was in 1981, when he pioneered cable TV in India, a significant move at a time when the country had only one terrestrial channel, Doordarshan​​.

In 1990, Screwvala founded UTV Software Communications (UTV), which he grew into a leading media conglomerate. UTV included a movie studio, a games studio, and a creative content company, and went public, listing on stock exchanges in 2005. Disney gradually took a substantial stake in UTV, until Screwvala divested the entire company to them in 2012 for an enterprise value of US$1.4 billion​​.

Beyond the film industry, Screwvala's influence extends to various sectors. He co-founded UpGrad, one of India's largest online education companies focusing on higher education and specialisation in fields like digital marketing, data analytics, and product management​​. Additionally, he co-founded U Sports, focusing on sports like kabaddi, eSports, and football, with an emphasis on training and managing young talent for professional careers in India and globally​​.

Screwvala's return to the media and entertainment industry came with the establishment of RSVP Movies, a company focused on developing its own scripts and screenplays and collaborating with directors who share a vision for storytelling​​. He also founded Unilazer Ventures, a public equity company investing in early-stage Indian startups, ranging from e-commerce to artificial intelligence and agriculture​​.

Furthermore, Screwvala, along with his wife Zarina, founded The Swades Foundation, a non-profit aimed at empowering a million people in rural India to move out of poverty. The foundation operates in Maharashtra's Raigad district, impacting half a million people across 2,000 villages, focusing on water, sanitation, health, education, and livelihood opportunities​​.

Ronnie Screwvala's journey reflects his multifaceted entrepreneurial spirit and his significant contributions to the Indian film industry, education, sports, and philanthropy. He has been recognized globally, being named among the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century by Esquire in 2008 and among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2009. He was also listed among Asia's 25 Most Powerful people by Fortune Magazine​​.