Anjana Reddy Alumna Anjana Reddy, founder of Collectabillia, was named to Forbes' "30 Under 30 Asia" in April. (Photo provided)

Take the Leap

Forbes’ 30 under 30 honoree encourages entrepreneurs to take risks

Anjana Reddy (BS ’09) had two choices when she graduated from Krannert with a degree in accounting — step into her family’s business, or try to make it on her own. She went with the latter.

She began Collectabillia, a celebrity commerce company in India offering a platform for fans to own memorabilia autographed by sports stars, while working on her master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Now, it looks like she made the right choice — she was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia in April.

She says she was surprised by her achievement. “I was in the middle of a photo shoot when I heard about it, so yeah, it was very pleasant, very nice,” she says, smiling. “And very unexpected.”

But, perhaps not so unexpected to the business world. Collectabillia was funded soon after she graduated, and it took off after that — spawning three more celebrity-endorsed brands, a men’s clothing line (WROGN) with cricket star Virat Kohli, ethnic women’s clothing line (Imara) with Bollywood actress Shraddha Kapoor and women’s western wear (Ms.Taken) with Bollywood actress Kriti Sanon. Today, Reddy’s brands sell in more than 70 stores with plans to launch 100 more by year’s end.

As her success goes, she says Krannert played a foundational role. “The classes you take give a whole variety, unlike focusing just on accounting or finance, and the electives give you a well-rounded perspective. The well-roundedness I got from Krannert has helped me always look at the bigger picture, which has helped scale the business successfully.”

The well-roundedness she speaks of also helped her power through some of the challenges she faced in starting her own business. Finding a good team is always a challenge, and so is keeping that team running. So she arranged her organization accordingly.

“We have a flat organization where the heads of departments are given ownership of their respective fields, which helps keep them motivated,” she says.

And, for a person who works 18-hour days, she credits her family for instilling in her the principles she needs to keep herself balanced.

“Growing up, a lot of dinner table conversations revolved around work,” she says, “but dad never brought his stress back home, so I think that’s one big thing I learned. It’s been something really small but it makes a difference.”

Part of that difference is the ability to take the risks necessary to see an idea through. When she began Collectabillia, there were no other youth-driven brands in her market. And now, she’s in the process of putting more funding into adding four additional warehouses across the country and strengthening her brand and supply chain. When she thinks of Krannert students and alumni, she hopes they’ll take the leap like she did.

“There’s no better time than now,” she says. “It’s something everyone should do if they’re inclined toward it.”