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My professional journey has been long, wide & winding: Suniel Shetty

Suniel Shetty, a well-known actor in Bollywood, runs a lucrative hotel and real estate company. He began his entrepreneurial career in Mumbai by opening a restaurant and club. He transitioned into fashion merchandising at the young age of 24, and was successful in creating the brand "Mischief."

Suniel Shetty, a well-known actor in Bollywood, runs a lucrative hotel and real estate company. He began his entrepreneurial career in Mumbai by opening a restaurant and club. He transitioned into fashion merchandising at the young age of 24, and was successful in creating the brand “Mischief.”

Suniel Shetty was up in a traditional Shetty family in Mangalore and began working at his father’s restaurant at the tender age of 16. Suniel developed a strong work ethic while playing sports; during major tournaments, he put in long hours in the kitchen and in the restaurant. This drive helped him succeed in every business initiative he pursued in the future, whether it was founding the trend-setting fashion destination Mischief, building renowned hospitality businesses, venturing into real estate development, or subsequently opening content production hubs.

How his journey transitioned from “Restaurateur to Merchandiser. Retailer to Actor. NGO to Real Estate. Brand Ambassador to Mentor. Film Producer to Startup Founder”, Suniel Shetty share in a Linkedin post.

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Celebrities are investing more and more frequently in cutting-edge enterprises. While super net assets individuals have traditionally controlled the venture capital industry, Bollywood superstars are increasingly participating in startup funding across industries.

“By 21, I was a settled restaurateur and most people expected me to stick to that path. At 24, I was drawn to fashion merchandising. To some, it seemed silly to give up a flourishing family business and start out in fashion, but that leap led me to building out my first baby, Mischief! At 28, my closest friends thought it was ridiculous to give up being a fashion entrepreneur to pursue a career in films”, Suniel Shetty added.

Suniel Shetty continues to enjoy acting, but over the past several years he has also invested in and coached a number of intriguing businesses. He handpicks concepts that he wants to be associated with—those that have the ability to address real-world issues and are supported by a group of driven goal-setters.

While it was uncommon back then to make career switches, things are different today. Education today has become specific to interests, and ultimately careers Suniel Shetty shares.

I’ve met several young professionals who have upskilled, reinvented themselves, pivoted to different industries, or made a big switch in their careers, especially in the post Covid world. What hasn’t changed though, is what one needs to do in order to succeed at making such changes and transitions, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty believes.

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These are his transitional guiding principles:

  1. Family – always take your family into confidence. If there’s any resistance, work through it. My parents, my sisters Suj & Sumi, my wife Mana and now my kids, are always a part of any key decision. My dad always said, ‘One life to live, give it your best’, and knowing I had his blessings did magic for my confidence. 
  2. Plan – Make a roadmap, with little milestones. Identify areas that need special focus. Speak to people, gather intelligence and prepare well. I did a whole lot of homework about the real estate business before we broke ground with our first project. 
  3. X Factor – Figure out what it is that you can bring to the table that most others can’t. When I opened my first fashion store, I was sourcing stuff from international markets way before anyone else did. Midnight sales were a huge hit @ Mischief, probably because it was unheard of in the early 90’s. 
  4. Network – Build connections, and maintain them. Don’t do this with the hope of gaining something. Do it from a genuine place, and add value to their lives. Yes, be genuine in your approach to networking. Some connections, I’ve now nurtured for close to 40 years.
  5. Improve, consistently  – Keep finding ways at getting better. Upskill. It’s simple, there’s no way around this. When my team & I started our content company, I could not afford to think like a film actor or producer. I just HAD TO think and act like the Founder of a bootstrapped venture. And it meant having to reinvent and learn a lot of new things.

“Most importantly, be HAPPY in whatever you do. For all of you who’re in the process of making a change, I truly hope these will help. Good luck, and keep going”, Suniel Shetty concluded.

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