Anjula Acharia doesn’t fit neatly into any one box. As both the longtime manager of actor and philanthropist Priyanka Chopra Jonas and an angel investor in billion-dollar female-founded tech companies, she’s equally at home in the worlds of pop culture and tech. Acharia’s notable angel investments include Joro App, Yumi, Vital Proteins, Bulletproof, The Muse, Health-Ade Kombucha, and Pop and Bottle.
Even though it may not seem like it at first glance, Acharia has discovered several similarities between talent management and tech investing. “I’ve always been interested in talent,” said Acharia, “whether it’s a groundbreaking actor like Chopra Jonas or an innovative founder like ClassPass’ Payal Kadakia. I help them both identify and make use of changes in popular culture to shape consumer behavior.”
“Anjula believed I was the right person for the role before anyone else did. She knew what the future had in store for me before I did, “said Kadakia. “That’s her major power.” The two met way back in 2010. Kadakia was the ideal founder to turn that Acharia’s realization into a billion-dollar business.” Acharia promptly became ClassPass’ first investor, and she incubated the company for a year in her New York City office.
In a similar vein, when Acharia and Chopra Jones met each other for the first time ten years ago, the latter was already an accomplished Bollywood star. However, Chopra Jonas decided to give Acharia a chance and let her be her manager in Hollywood even though she lacked any prior experience in management. Iovine was the one who convinced Acharia that her lack of experience would actually be an asset in this case. He argued that Chopra Jonas needed somebody who could help her navigate this new terrain and break through the barriers that exist in the entertainment industry. Thanks to Acharia’s guidance, Chopra Jonas has been able to do just that.
Before launching Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ career in the United States, no Bollywood star had yet achieved such widespread Hollywood success. Today, Chopra Jonas is an icon in both India and the US. She graced the cover of VOGUE, and Acharia helped secure a deal that made Chopra Jonas the face of the NBA in India. Chopra Jonas announced a new first-look television deal with Amazon this year.
“India is believed to be the future market for most American industrial products,” says Acharia. She cites India’s large economy and nearly 700 million young citizens as key reasons. “Priyanka is also best placed as a conduit that will see more American brands open shop in India,” she continues. “She’s very famous in India and is seen as a positive ambassador for the country.”
“When it comes to smart investors, Reshma is definitely one of the first names that come to mind. Not only did she help establish the European ecosystem as we know it today, but she also built Seedcamp from the ground up. Thanks to her and her team’s efforts, there are now four unicorn status companies and counting. “
According to Acharia, an advisor and investor to Pop and Bottle, a company that sells non-dairy organic lattes nationwide, “I’m constantly assessing shifts in pop culture.” She explains that he gave up dairy products several years ago and switched to almond and oat milk after meeting the company’s dynamic female founders, Jash Mehta and Blair Fletcher Hardy. Pop and Bottle’s products have snowballed through retail, online, and direct-to-consumer channels.
Acharia’s approach to investing heavily focuses on veganism and plant-based foods. At Trinity Ventures, she was an advocate for the female-founded vegan cosmetics company, Thrive Causemetics. What drew her in was not only the company’s clean, vegan ingredients but also its mission to help women in need. Trinity Ventures led the Series A investment into Thrive Causemetics. As reported by ALLURE Magazine, they worked with Acharia’s contacts, Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John, and Chopra Jonas on early product development.
Acharia has made a lot of progress during the pandemic by investing in companies that have boomed due to people spending more time at home. One of these companies is YUMI, which sells clean kids’ food. Acharia has been working with YUMI to help with their branding and storytelling.
Anjula is an amazing thinker who always has people at the forefront of her mind. She has a unique ability to understand a brand and what it stands for, and how to communicate that to others. She was the one who pushed us to create an experience that went beyond food and instead focused on supporting families and helping parents connect nutrition and their children’s health. Without her, we would never have been able to create such a powerful brand.
Anjula’s early insights were invaluable to us. We used them to see our product as a solution to fundamental pain points, which changed everything for us. We paired our research and content with the product by age and found myriad ways to support parents across their journey. This helped us become the fastest growing children’s food company in the US, experiencing more than 30X growth in the last two years,” said Angela Sutherland, Yumi co-founder.
One of Acharia’s investments is likely to generate a lot of buzz this coming year, given Bumble’s recent IPO filing. Bumble is a dating app that could be valued at up to $8 billion. Acharia was raised in the UK but has always had a strong connection to her Indian roots. She launched Lady Gaga, 50 Cent, and Britney Spears in India early in her career, and she has used that experience to help take Bumble to India. Working with Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd and Chopra Jonas, Acharia has been instrumental in growing the brand in India.
Whether acting as a bridge between brands and talent in the US and India, breaking down cultural stereotypes, or infiltrating pop culture, Acharia has carved a unique career path for herself. Lovine once told me that my startup would fail, but he still invested in me. He saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself. I try to do the same for other people now. I try to recognize talent before it has a chance to flourish. It’s something that I’m good at and enjoy doing.
Acharia is having a moment, with three big hits in the form of her two unicorn investments and the successful launch of Chopra Jonas. She’s well on her way to an album.