Shark Tank India 2 has seen a lot of interesting pitches, however, this one LGBTQ pitch has seemed to win the hearts of many.
The Hindi-language business reality television show is in its second season with judges Anupam Mittal, Peyush Bansal, Namita Thapar, Vineeta Singh, Amit Jain and Aman Gupta seeing new and interesting pitches every week.
For all its masala and over-the-top dramatics in certain cases, one thing that it certainly does is shed light on the many, many types of different Indian startups and at least make the general public aware of them.
So it was interesting to see the reaction the judges had to an LGBTQ pitcher for a business that was built by a queer person and for queer entrepreneur of the country and what did they eventually decide to do with the pitch.
Entrepreneurs Ashish Chopra, his brother Vishesh Chopra and his mother Simmi Nanda all three came to give a pitch at Shark Tank India 2 for their business called BeUnic, which is somewhat of a marketplace for the different LGBTQ things.
The startup was founded in 2019 and is based in Delhi, which highlights queer entrepreneurs and creators, being an e-commerce marketplace and fashion brand curating and producing lifestyle products from them.
Nanda, Ashish’s mother actually spoke about learning of her son’s homosexuality and what happened then saying “A mother has so many dreams for her son – he studies well, gets married and has children. I had these dreams too. But when I learned about Ashish’s sexuality, I was very saddened. I thought my dreams would never come true. But they’re just dreams. You can weave new ones. This was the beginning of my new journey.”
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BeUnic was actually started by Ashish after he was mistreated in stores for trying to buy heels claiming that they were for only females. The original starting point was to be a gender-fluid and inclusive footwear brand, which slowly expanded to other areas.
The idea for a singular e-commerce platform like BeUniq came to him after a conference in Bengaluru for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs where he observed that due to the cost and complexity of setting up a website, many queer entrepreneurs just operated their business through social media channels like Instagram.
Simmi spoke about how she was told by her sister and niece that her son Ashish was a homosexual.
She initially did not have a very positive reaction to the news, claiming that she didn’t speak to him for four months afterward being too stunned by the news, however, her older son Vishal helped to change her attitude.
This is when she decided to publicly accept him, telling the judges that “I thought I should help Aashish, he must have struggled enough already. Our public speaking mentor told us to deliver a speech that’s close to our hearts, in front of a group of 40-50 people.
I prepared a speech for him (Aashish) and accepted him in front of everyone – Love them, hug them, and kiss them because the closet is not the place to be in.”
It is around this time that Simmi decided to start BeUnic with her sons and now the e-commerce platform makes sure to keep all the items available on the site gender flexible as a way to encourage and promote the community. The pitchers also revealed that they donate a percentage of the profits from the business to NGOs that work with and for the queer community of the country.
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Feature Image designed by Saudamini Seth
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