How Anjula Acharia Visualized Her Path to Success

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Anjula Acharia
Courtesy of Anjula Acharia

On this episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, A-Series Management and Investments founder and CEO Anjula Acharia talks about her unique journey to entrepreneurship.

Acharia grew up in England during the ‘70s and ‘80s. “It was really hard. It was really racist,” she says of the time period.

“People weren’t fond of foreigners, and particularly foreigners like my parents who have a thick Indian accent, and we’re real immigrants. So we got a lot of hate.”

The adversity led Acharia, the youngest of three, to spend time on her own, listening to Michael Jackson and gazing up at the sky.

“I used to think those stars..that are where I lived..are the same stars in Hollywood. And one day, I’d be under those stars in Hollywood,” she says.

Eventually, after a decade building companies as a headhunter and consultant in London and elsewhere, Acharia did come to L.A. — but unlike other driven leaders who plan out their lives strategically, she did not come with a plan.

“I don't believe in plans for myself, because I just believe the world is full of opportunity. And if you look around you, you will see 100 things.” she says. “I will find opportunities and that's what drives my career. So everything that's happened to me in my life has been just an opportunity that's sprouted itself in front of me.”

Acharia first came to the U.S. for university, but struggled in school due to her dyslexia. Instead, she focused on theater and went to drama school. “And that opened up a whole world for me. So I just think there's things around you all the time… That's just like a thing that's inside me that I will look for it, I will look for the opportunity.”

Later, she returned after launching Desi Hits!, an entertainment platform aimed at the South Asian diaspora, which was backed by music entrepreneur Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records and Beats Electronics. The experience, and her acumen as CEO of the company, jolted her to a career in managing artists, including international superstar Priyanka Chopra.

“When [people] see you’re positive and you’re energetic, they will put opportunities in front of you, because they will see that in you. And they will just be like, “Oh, I want to work with that person’. Like so many people have come up to me and said, ‘I want to work with you.’”

That was true for her experience mentoring entrepreneurs Payal Kadkia and Kathryn Minshew.

Kadakia, the creator of ClassPass, read about Acharia, one of the few South Asian women that had raised venture funding and was in the public eye “and she was like ‘I want to be like her,” says Acharia. Despite “having very little money” herself, Acharia wanted to help Kadakia by investing in her, but had little to spare. “I gave her a very small check because I didn’t have a lot to give her,” she says.

“And that started my journey of entrepreneurship.”

Soon after, Kathryn Minshew of The Muse asked for mentoring from Acharia as well. Acharia accepted the invitation and wrote Minshew a small check. “I think what they did was really made those women feel like [they] had skin in the game and made those women feel like they were worthy,” she says.

“So that was how I became an accidental investor.”

Now as the head of a management and investment company that has funded multiple unicorns, Acharia has one big piece of advice for women in the startup industry: think big.

“When you're thinking about something, go out, take a walk, look at the sky, it just makes you feel like there is an infinite possibility,” she says. “And there's so much evidence to support that when you think of all the things that people have done in the world and going against such great adversity to do those things. It's like, how can you not believe that thinking big makes sense. You just can't not believe that.”

Audience Engagement and Production Intern Jojo Macaluso contributed to this post.

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