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Female Tollywood Celebrities Who Chose Entrepreneurship Over Acting



The second largest movie industry in India is the Telugu film industry which is also known by its sobriquet Tollywood! The Telugu film industry had a humble beginning in 1921, when Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu, cited as the father of Telugu cinema produced the first Telugu silent film, Bhishma Pratigna. Todaythe Tollywood industry produces over 200 films per year.

In the 96 years since the first Telugu movie was released, the Telugu film industry has come a long way! The children of the legendary actors rule the screens today, creating their own legacy. But, there are a few celebrity children who chose to go a different route and took up entrepreneurship instead. Let’s take a look at those famous celebrity daughters who chose the startup world over the movie industry.

1. Nara Brahmani

Nara Brahmani is the daughter of the one and only Balakrishna Nandamuri and the grand daughter of Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao. Instead of venturing into the film industry her family helped establish, she is now managing her father in law, Chandrababu Naidu’s business, Heritage Foods Limited. She recently also won the coveted National CSR Award which recognizes corporate initiatives in the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to achieve inclusive growth and inclusive and sustainable development from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

 2. Manchu Lakshmi

Daughter of Manchu Mohan Lal and sister of Manchu Manoj and Manchu Vishnu, Manchu Lakshmi is a true entrepreneur in every sense. She is a producer, a social worker, a writer and a director. She runs the production house Sree Lakshmi Prasanna Pictures founded by her father and has produced several popular blockbusters such as Assembly Rowdy, Rowdygari Pellam, Alludu Garu, Major Chandrakanth, Pedarayudu and Rayalaseema Ramanna Chowdary. She was also the host of the popular TV show Memu Saitham, a show which helped the common man to achieve their dreams by raising money through Tollywood stars who worked as daily wage laborers for a day.

3. Manjula Ghattamaneni

 Manjula is the daughter of superstar Krishna Ghattamaneni and the sister of Mahesh Babu. She is the owner of the production house Indira Productions, named after her mother. She produced and starred in the film ‘Show’ which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu and National Film Award for Best Screenplay. Her production house is known for movies like Naani, Pokiri, Kavya’s Diary and Ye Maaya Chesave.

4. Sushmita Konidela

Sushmita is the daughter of Chiranjeevi who made a career for herself in the Tollywood industry but not as an actress. Despite hailing from one of the biggest film family, Sushmita chose to be a fashion designer instead and even styled her father for his 150th movie Khaidi No. 150 and his TV debut Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu. She has also styled her brother Ram Charan Tej in his upcoming movie RC11.

5. Daggubati Purandeswari

Indian politician from the state of Andhra Pradesh, Purandeswari is the daughter of N.T. Rama Rao (NTR.) Unlike her brothers Balakrishna and Harikrishna, she chose to be a politician and also represented the Visakhapatnam constituency of Andhra Pradesh as a Member of Parliament in the 15th Lok Sabha of India. She takes after her father who became a politician after a successful career in the Telugu film industry. She joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on 7 March, 2014 and was appointed as the in charge of BJP Mahila Morcha. She also established the Hyderabad Institute of Gem and Jewellery having followed a short course in gemology at the Gemological Institute of India.

6. Naga Susheela

Naga Susheela hails from the popular Akkineni family. The daughter of Akkineni Nageswara Rao (ANR) and sister of Nagarjuna found her calling in the film industry but not as an actress. She is a director at Annapurna Studios Private Limited and Annapurna International School of Film and Media. She has also produced three feature films, Adda in 2013, Current in 2009 and Kalidasu in 2008. Apart from production, she also has business experience in the real estate sector.

Along with the famous daughters of Tollywood celebrities, many daughters in laws also ventured out to create a name for themselves. Upasana Kamineni, the daughter in law of Chiranjeevi stepped into the family business set up by her grandfather Dr. Pratap C. Reddy, the co founder and Chairman of Apollo Hospitals. Focusing more on the healthcare unit of the Apollo group of hospitals, she is currently serving as the Vice President of Apollo Charity. Another similar famous daughter in law is Nagarjuna’s wife Amala Akkineni who is the co founder of The Blue Cross of Hyderabad, a non government organization which works towards the welfare of animals and preservation of animal rights in India.


5 Successful Indian Startups Founded By Women



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The workplace has undergone massive changes in the last century.  At the turn of the Industrial Revolution, any workplace was dominated by men while the women were delegated to run the homes.  However, with the advent of the internet and new and exciting technologies, workplaces have undergone a tectonic shift.  Women are no longer comfortable staying at home and are instead opting to lead teams and organisations.  As every year passes, we get closer to true gender equality, women have proven time and again that they are equally capable to get the job done if not better in some instances.  Names like Wolfe Herd (Bumble founder,) Kylie Jenner     (Kylie Cosmetics founder,)  Masaba Gupta (Masaba clothing label founder) are just some of the names who are known for leading world famous brands with their unique style of leadership. 

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, we bring to you five women founders who run world famous and successful startups.

1) Upasana Taku-MobiKwik

If you are an Indian and are used to doing online shopping, more often than not at the time of payment, you would be directed to a payment gateway.  One of these gateways would normally be MobiKwik.  The startup is a well known name in the digital payments and digital wallet space.  MobiKwik was founded by Upasana Taku in 2009, who prior to founding MobiKwik used to work with PayPal.  Today Upasana Taku is also in charge of bank partnerships, business operations, and talent acquisition at MobiKwik.

2) Richa Kar-Zivame

An enthusiastic MBA student, Richa Kar, developed an online lingerie shopping platform in the year 2011.  Currently, Zivame is India’s leading online lingerie store with a valuation of more than $ 100 million.  The brilliant idea for her own lingerie business came to light when Richa tracked Victoria’s Secret’s sales, who was one of her clients when she was working at SAP.  She observed the lingerie sales figures reached peaks overseas but, Indian women were not provided with the similar innerwear.  While Richa was studying the Indian lingerie market, she realized the social embarrassment in India surrounding lingerie shopping.  Today Richa Kar could be credited with destigmatising the uneasiness surrounding lingerie shopping in India.

3) Falguna Nayar-Nykaa

After a long stint as an investment banker, Falguni Nayar founded in the year 2013. An online one stop shop for beauty products from Indian and international brands, Nykaa changed the world of online shopping.  Who would have ever thought buying makeup online would be so easy? Falguni Nayar proved many critics wrong and created a brand new place for people who love experimenting with styles, designs and colors.

ALSO READ: Zivame: Founding Story

4) Sabina is a popular Indian website for making flight and hotel bookings.  Sabina Chopra was instrumental in identifying the potential for travel commerce in India and people moving towards cheaper or easier travel.  By the time, people started looking to make bookings, Sabina made sure was already in place.  Sabina was the former Head of India Operations of eBookers, which is also an online travel company based in Europe.  Along with this, she was also working with Japan Airlines which further adds to her experience in the travel industry.

5) Rashmi Sinha-SlideShare

SlideShare allows people to upload and access their presentations online.  While this feature is presently available everywhere, SlideShare was one of the first players in making this happen.  Rashmi Sinha was one of the founders of the presentation sharing platform SlideShare.  The company became so successful that in 2012, LinkedIn acquired the company for an amount of $100 million.

Let us know in the comments if you know any other wonderful women who have become leaders of their right or have started up and are doing extraordinary things.  We at Startup Stories wish a wonderful Women’s Day to all the women in the world who are changemakers.

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Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?



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If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something.  There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you.  Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes.  The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.

These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing.  Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more.  Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost.  Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.  

Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements.  Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up.  If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”  

ALSO READ: How Digital Marketing Is Impacted Due To The COVID-19 Pandemic

Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition.  This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing.  Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing.  Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”

There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms.  Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.  

Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present.  Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics.  We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)”  Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort.  The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions.  Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools.  Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.

With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset.  The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.

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From Unicorn To Bankruptcy; Knotel Bears The Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic



Unicorn To Bankruptcy, Knotel Bears Brunt Of COVID-19 Pandemic,COVID-19 Pandemic, Startup Stories, Public Health Emergency, Startup Knotel, American property technology, flexible workspace, unicorn, Bankruptcy, Startup Business Latest News 2021

It is no secret that in the fast paced world of startups, fortunes can change at the snap of fingers.  Sometimes startups tend to scale so quickly that they become unicorns and sometimes the fortunes reverse so quickly that a startup can immediately go bankrupt from being a unicorn.  The latter was the case for an American property technology startup Knotel, who are now bankrupt due to the disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Knotel is a property technology company quite similar to WeWork.  Knotel designed, built and ran custom headquarters for companies which It manages the spaces with ‘flexible’ terms.  Knotel does a mix of direct leases and revenue sharing deals.  Knotel marketed its offering as ‘headquarters as a service’ or a flexible office space which could be customized for each tenant while also growing or shrinking as needed. For the revenue-share agreements, Knotel solicits clients, builds out offices, and manages properties, and shares the rent paid to it by the client with the landlord.  This model is the majority revenue generator for Knotel.

In March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed its economic destruction on the world, Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion.  What is even more interesting is Knotel raised $ 400 million in Series C funding in August 2019 which led to its unicorn status.  However, with the COVId-19 pandemic and its consequent lockdowns and curfews by various governments across the world, startups and businesses shifted to a remote working model.  This in turn led to startups pulling out of Knotel properties to cut down on working costs.  

ALSO READ: Quibi : Startup With A Billion Dollar Launch To Shutting Down All In Six Months

In late March 2020, according to Forbes, Knotel laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed another 20%, due to the impact of the coronavirus.  It was at this point that Knotel was valued at $ 1.6 billion.  The company had started the year with about 500 employees.  By the third week of March,Knotel had a headcount of 400.  With the cuts, about 200 employees remained with the other 200 having either lost their jobs or on unpaid leave, according to Forbes. 

In 2021, Knotel filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to Newmark, one of their investors for a total of $ 70 million dollars.  As work culture is still undergoing changes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many companies realising that remote work model saves costs and improves work efficiency, the flexible workspace sector would continue to face challenges.  Knotel is just the tip of the iceberg and is a warning call for the flexible working spaces industry.

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