The 9 unique and successful entrepreneurs of India.
Written by Prateek Mathur
July 24, 2021
Who broke the typical image of a grey flannel suit. They thought out of the box and created a niche for themselves.
As Winston Churchill once said “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” –In the business field success is all about setting goals and achieving them apart from profit and loss and the secret, as many people will agree, is hard work. Because, if you are focused on hard work then you automatically do the other 2 things that lead to success in business.
Many of them have never been to any reputed fancy MBA institutes nor have any sort of business training still they made their MISSION POSSIBLE and proved that a successful business can be run without any management education.
This blog is dedicated to some of the most successful entrepreneurs from India whose ventures have revolutionized the daily life of millions, if not billions, across the world. The path to name and fame wasn’t easy for them; it involved several trials, hurdles, and tribulations. They turned their dream into reality with their sheer dedication and passion.
1. Harbhajan Kaur:- “The Barfi Queen”
The Barfi queen Harbhajan Kaur lives in Chandigarh. She has proved that age has no bar to start. She has launched her own brand Harbhajan’s. Her Daughter encouraged her to follow her passion for preparing dishes. Harbhajan Kaur is, indeed influence on all procrastinators.
At the age of 90, she disclosed her wish to her daughter to start an independent business. Her daughter, Raveena, knew that She (Harbhajan) was an excellent cook. She suggested her mother start making besan ki barfi and sell them on a big scale.
Her first earning was rs 2000 which was encouraged her. For her granddaughter’s wedding, she made 200 kilos of barfi. She prepares delicious besan ki barfi and her daughter sells them at the organic mandi in Chandigarh.
The journey of this flourishing entrepreneur became viral when Anand Mahindra, Chairman of The Mahindra Group Twitted about her – “When you hear the word ‘start-up’ it brings to mind images of millennials in Silicon Valley or Bengaluru trying to build billion-dollar ‘unicorns.’ From now on let’s also include a 94-yr-old woman who doesn’t think it’s too late to do a start-up.” and called her “entrepreneur of the year”.
Harbhajan Kaur is truly an inspiration and proof that age is not a barrier to one’s dreams.
2. Prafull Billore:- “MBA Chaiiwala”
For many “Chaii” is their part of their daily life. But hey!! Have you ever thought in your dreams that you can also earn in crores just by selling tea on a roadside thela!!
If you are planning to start a business, grow your business or develop your business, then Prafull Billore, popularly known as MBA Chaiwala will give you all the business motivation and tips you might need. This youngster is a living example of how you can earn crores of rupees by being a chaiwala. From preparing for an MBA to dropping out of MBA college and working in McDonald’s, Prafull was commended with the idea of starting his own food business and took the plunge of opening a roadside stall to start his entrepreneurial journey.
This young entrepreneur’s story explains very well how a simple thela transformed into a million-dollar business called THE MBA CHAIWALA. He started organizing open mic sessions and book drives at his shop for the youngsters. His ‘free tea idea for single ‘on Valentine’s day went viral and all the singles around there went to his shop. He got huge fame then and started getting orders to serve tea at weddings. Billore has this business of selling hot tea which was even difficult o imagine for a management degree holder. Prafull broke this myth that MBA’s are only meant for corporate jobs. The success of his tea venture is proven by his recorded turnover crossed Rs 3 crore. 22-year-old Prafull now lives in Ahmedabad and is well known as ‘MBA Chaiwala’ across the country.
After 2 years, Prafull has started his own cafe and has franchises all over India. He has been invited to IIMs for speeches to motivate fellow youth.
3. Acharya Balkrishna:- “Brain behind Brand Patanjali”
He is the chairman of the consumer goods company “Patanjali Ayurved” and the brain behind Patanjali Ayurved’s success. Balkrishna has triumphantly established and managed a global business without any formal education or a management degree. No one had ever imagined one could become a billionaire business tycoon by telling people how to do yoga. Acharya Balkrishna, is the CEO of yoga guru Baba Ramdev runs FMCG company Patanjali. He is the right-hand man to Baba Ramdev and his huge empire of Ayurveda and yoga.
In March, 48-year-old Balkrishna managed to be on the Forbes list of the World’s Billionaires at 1444th spot. He had entered the annual Forbes list of India’s 100 Richest People at the 66th position. He was claimed by Forbes to have a net worth of US$2.3 billion as of May 2021 If Patanjali is able to double its turnover, There is a man who knows how it can be done and he is Balkrishna who is the brain behind the brand Patanjali Ayurveda. He hasn’t become a billionaire in a short period of time without reason. If you look at his simple lifestyle and strong work ethic, you will be convinced the man is built for success.
A consigliere of Baba Ramdev, Balkrishna holds a 94% stake in Patanjali Ayurved, but he is working without any salary, Yet, he works for 15 hours a day, even on Sundays and other holidays during the year. He claims he has not taken a single day off from his work He says “I work daily from 7 am to 10 pm, I work for 15 hours through the week.
When he started his journey with Baba Ramdev 10 years ago to establish Patanjali. He took personal loans, Balkrishna never thought that Patanjali would come this far. He had to take Rs 50-60 crore personal loan to support and established the brand. Before this, he did not even have a personal account in any bank as he claimed in one of his interviews.
Balkrishna is committed to make Patanjali the FMCG leader in India. Major elements of Balkrishna’s growth strategy are: to double distributor strength to 12,000, invest Rs 5,000 crore in new projects, increase headcount five-fold to five lakh within a year, and set up a new restaurant chain.
4. Byju Raveendran:- “Founder of Byju’s learning App”
Who would have thought that teaching can also be possible by Video lessons, Questions Library Personalization, etc. But Byju’s has made this possible. Its personalized learning experience for each of its users or students is based on their size and style of learning. The app has many unique features such as videos, interactive sessions, and teachers for bringing concepts to life.
Byju’s is the brainchild of Mr. Byju Raveendran He is the patron of Edutech start-up Byju’s.
He comes from a Malayali family, Son of physics and mathematics teachers from Azhikode village in Kannur district of Kerala, Raveendran is a former educator who turned an entrepreneur. An engineering graduate, he started teaching maths to friends also those who wanted to learn from him. After spending a couple of years at a shipping firm. He used to train those students who would prepare for entrance exams like the common entrance exam (CAT). In 2003, he appeared for CAT himself just for fun and scored 100%, despite not studying enough for the exam. Two years later, he decided to take up teaching as a full-time job when his friends advised him to teach students aspiring for competitive exams. Raveendran went from teaching a few friends, to teaching hundreds of students in large auditoriums, and taking classes through satellite communication after that his popularity grew day by day. With the increasing number of students, he started recording his lectures in the year 2009 and made them available to his students across 45 cities.
He formed Think & Learn in 2011, to offer online lessons, before launching his main app in 2015.
In 2018, Byju Raveendran won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Startup category) which was a compliment to his hard work.
Raveendran’s start-up Byju’s app runs on a premium model and trains students for Indian examinations like IIT-JEE, NEET, CAT, and IAS, as well as international ones such as GRE and GMAT. In July 2019 Byju’s acquired Indian cricket team jersey rights as an association between sports and education sectors.
Today, Byju’s has gained so much popularity as a new idea and concept. It has grown into the world’s most successful tech start-ups with 80 million users and 5.5 million paid subscribers. According to data available as of July 2021, its valuation has compounded 125% over the past three years to approximately $400 million. . Today Byju’s is one of the top five most-valuable internet companies in the country. . Byju has added one more feather in its cap as it has become the first startup in Asia to be funded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife’s foundation.
Harvard Business School has also chosen Byju’s app as a business case which is a big accomplishment. It has received several awards, and achievements including the:-
1.Business Standard Annual Award for Corporate Excellence (2018).
2. 2021 TIME100 Most Influential Companies: BYJU’S – Expanding E-learning.
5. Arunachalam Muruganantham:- “The Padman”
Arunachalam Muruganantham known as (Padman) is a from in social entrepreneur from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, India. He is the inventor of the low-cost sanitary pad-making machine and is acknowledged for innovating grassroots mechanisms for generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural India. His self-designed mini-machines, which can manufacture sanitary pads for less than a third of the cost of commercial pads available in the market, have been installed in 23 of the 29 states of India in rural areas. He was mentioned in Time magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in the year 2016.
Muruganantham has become well known as a social entrepreneur and also under his Jaishree Industries he is giving training to many needy women during the pandemic crisis to make them independent. Many educational institutions invite him as a guest speaker including IIT Bombay, IIM Ahmedabad, IIT Madras, IIM Bangalore, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani – Goa Campus, and Harvard University.
He has also given a TED talk. His inspiring story was the subject of a prize-winning documentary by Amit Virmani, Menstrual Man, and the film Phullu (2017) directed by Abhishek Saxena.
The 2018 Hindi film Pad Man was made on his invention which made him popular each household. . Director R. Balki directed this film and Indian actor Akshay Kumar portrayed the character of Laxmikant Chauhan in this film which was based on Muruganantham’s life.
This padman has surely scripted a big change in the lives of many women not only in India but across the world.
6. Patricia Narayan: “Director of Sandeepha Chain of Restaurants”
When you spot a successful woman anywhere you just look at her outwards achievements but the moment you come to know about her struggles that time only you can understand the strong mindset and strong vision she has. Patricia Narayan is one of those inspiring females who wholeheartedly believed that nothing is impossible with enough conviction. This is a success story of a woman who earned 50 paise a day
Starting from 50 paise to Rs. 2 lakh per day, from traveling in a cycle rickshaw to owning a posh car today, from just 2 people to 200 employees now working for her, Patricia has battled against all the odds and faced all the challenges with her passion for cooking. Slowly she has thrived and established herself as a successful entrepreneur.
After years of battling an abusive and addictive husband, she took the charge of her life in her hand and decided to work. To raise her two kids and give them a better life, she started making pickles, jams, and squashes. Her hard work paid off and Soon, she managed to set up a handcart at Chennai’s famous Marina Beach and started selling fritters, cutlets, samosas, fresh juice, coffee, and tea. Unfortunately, On her first day, she could only sell one cup of coffee for fifty paise but she did not give up her hope. That was actually a start of a rewarding journey for her.
By the late 80s, she had expanded her business into running canteens for offices. She became director of the Sangeetha Group’s Nelson Manickam Road restaurant in 1998.
In 2006, Patricia launched Sandheepha, which runs a standalone restaurant and delivers to the food courts for various big corporates.
Patricia’s business is dedicated to her only daughter Pradheepha Sandra who sadly died in a car crash in 2004. She describes it as the biggest tragedy of her life. Today, In the memory of her daughter she operates an ambulance service from Acharapakkam, the spot where Pradheepha died.
Patricia is a true fighter in every sense. She is a skillful lady. After fighting against weakness, bombarded marriages and drug dealing, addicts, and harmed spouses, and dealing with two young children, she finds out the way and decides to build an iconic personality. Her success plus struggle story is a benchmark for other startups and women entrepreneurs who want to start from scratch.
Patricia Narayan’s Achievements
2016: Won the Indian Express Devi Awards
2010: Received the FICCI Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
7. Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat:- “Founder of ‘Lijjat’ papad”
It’s been 4 decades now still we remember that ad for Lijaat Papad and its crispiness and unique taste. Every Indians household knows this brand and relishes it with the everyday meal. ‘Lijjat’ means tasty in Gujarati. When the business was initially started by these women, the company was named Shri Mahila Gruha Udyog Lijjat Papad. Later in 1962, it was renamed Lijjat Papad.
But do you who is the mastermind behind this hugely successful brand.Its Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat. She is an Indian businesswoman, hails from a typical gujju family, and is one of the founders of Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad. It’s an Indians women’s worker cooperative involved in the manufacturing of various fast-moving consumer goods. She is 91years old. this lady baron is one of the seven founders who founded the company producing the popular ‘Lijjat Papad’ in 1959 as a household venture. She started the company with a pump-priming fund of only 80rs. (US$1.10), their cooperative venture – the Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad and now has a gross revenue of over 1,600 crores (US$224 million). Her organization has employed nearly 45,000 women under its wings.
The inspiring story of Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat, the founder of Lijjat papad will give motivation to many entrepreneurs. At that time when no one talked about enterprise, Popat and her team of women not just created a brilliant business and a brand, they also created employment for women which were simply remarkable.
The Government of India conferred 91-year-old Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat India’s fourth-highest civilian award the Padma Shri in Trade and Industry category On January 26, 2021.
When Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat and her seven other neighborhood women started making papads in 1956, they never thought that their small cottage business would grow into a multimillion-dollar industry, decades later.
Popat’s seed investment was just Rs 80. This tiny amount was considered to be huge money at that time but they borrowed from a social worker. Lijjat Papads became a household name soon. Not just that when people went to the market and asked for papads, they would say Lijjat Papad no matter which brand even today Lijjat Brand is leading and still shining.
Initially, The business was set up in Mumbai’s Girgaum area. Popat got her helping hands when these ladies joined her to begin the business.Their names are Parvatiben Ramdas Thodani, Ujamben Narandas Kundlia, Banuben Tanna, Laguben Amritlal Gokani, and Jayaben Vithalani.
Gradually, these seven women became hundreds and currently, thousands of women are working in this huge industry which has become a great example of women empowerment too. Popat has trained many women under her and helped them to achieve financial independence.
In the starting phase making and selling papads was just a desperate step to contribute to the family income for Popat and other group members. They all used to make the papads on their house terrace. Initially, They had sold only four packets of papad to a businessman. But with help of word- of -mouth customers the demand increased and they started supplying on large scale to various parts of the country later.
Popat and her group transfigured a small-scale home business into a large cottage industry over the years. Today, Lijjat Papads has over 60 branches and employs around 45,000 women across the country.
This brand had an annual Rs. 800 Million (INR 80 crores) worth of exports in 2019. Due to standardization in the Papad, 4.8 Billion Papads are made by 45,000 Lijjat sisters all over India with similar tastes and this is the reason that wherever you go you will get the same taste of Lijjat papad.
Currently, the papad is sold all over the country as well as exported to other countries including England, the USA, Singapore, Thailand, etc.
Popat did not have any knowledge or degree or experience about running a business when she started. But she gathered up courage and perseverance to make a profit out of her small-scale business. It’s all because of these women entrepreneurs ‘ hard work and sheer dedication that this business grew so much that today Lijjat papad brand is now a popular household name all over the country.
This women-centric business now has a whopping turnover of over Rs 800 crore. But what is noteworthy is that it employs so many rural women who are illiterate but skilled and now they can support their families.
She believes that each woman working at Lijjat is considered as the ‘malik’ and not as a worker for they contribute equally to its success. Popat is the sole surviving member now among all initial establishers. The success story of Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat and her Lijjat Papad is one of the inspirational tales of women’s empowerment in India which will keep inspiring others in the future also.
8. Vikash Jaiswal:- “The Ludo King”
We all have played Ludo at least once. By far the most engaging indoor game we have. Not even kids in fact elders also enjoy playing this game in their free time. But today when everything is available online Ludo also emerged as one of the top free mobile games which you can play online too.
Ludo King is a free parlor game developed by futurist Vikash Jaiswal, who owns an Indian company named ‘Indian studio Gametion Technologies Pvt Ltd.’. Ludo King is an Indian free-to-play mobile application game that is developed on the Unity game engine and is easily available out there on all the mobile platforms i.e. Kindle, Android, iOS, and Windows mobile phones.
Ludo King has gained popularity within the period of worldwide lockdown thanks to COVID-19. It is proven by the fact that the game ranked No 1 in the Top Free Games Section in Play Store and Apps Store with around 100+ million downloads.
Vikash, Ludo King’s owner, is a foundation member of the Indian studio Gametion Technologies Pvt Ltd. He hails from Patna, Bihar, India. After finishing his schooling, he pursued his Bachelors of Engineering in the Computer Science department from MIT, Bulandshahar, India.
Ludo King developer Vikash was quite fond of online games from his childhood days and so he made a video game called ‘Eggy Boy’ during his bachelor’s degree program as a part of his thesis which was a milestone of his successful gaming carrier. The game got successful and was able to make its name and even got featured as ‘Game of the Month’ in PCQuest magazine. After he graduated from MIT, Vikas moved to Mumbai and started working as a tech leader for Indiagames Ltd for a better prospect.
In 2008 Vikash quit his job and began performing on his dream project to follow his passion that is game development and so started his own gaming company named Gametion, with a capital investment of INR 2.5 lakh. They had a team of seven enthusiastic people. This game was first released on the iOS platform dated February 20, 2016, and after watching its popularity, the game was released on other platforms. In the initial period, Gametion created simple browser games, but afterward, they shifted their game platform to Android and iOS.
After a long period around October 2015, Ludo King founder Vikash Jaiswal came up with the thought to create a Ludo. The basic idea behind this game was to recollect childhood memories while playing. This became their USP, as people felt nostalgic and began twiddling with their relatives and friends. This game has now become the foremost successful digital parlor game within the period of lockdown because it was the simplest resource for passing time and chit-chatting with their friends and relatives.
9. Vijay Shekhar Sharma:- “Paytm Karo”
Post demonetization there are two words“Paytm Karo.” that comes to almost every Indian’s mind when they go shopping or pay their bills, be it any mall, supermarket, or a small grocery shop or an ice cream parlor or anywhere. Paytm has brought a paradigm shift in the retail industry by completely changed the methodology of payment. Paytm was launched by Vijay Shekhar Sharma in August 2010. He is the founder and chief military officer (CEO) of monetary technology company Paytm. He started Paytm as an online mobile recharge and bill payment platform which emerged as a fast-rising mobile wallet Paytm now. Paytm now enables its users to make almost every kind of transaction with simply a click of a button on their mobiles. In a short period of 8 years, Paytm has over 250 million registered users and still counting. Paytm is a Federal Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-approved e-wallet and available in 11 Indian languages.
He was placed as India’s youngest billionaire in 2017 by Forbes with a net worth of $1.3 billion. He has been also featured in the prestigious Time Magazines World’s 100 Most Influential People 2017 List. He is the recipient of Yash Bharati, the very best civilian honor of the govt of Uttar Pradesh. In 2020, he was ranked because the #62nd richest person in India, with a net worth of US$2.35 billion, consistent with Forbes. with over 250 million registered users and counting.
He was positioned as India’s youngest billionaire in 2017 by Forbes with a net worth of $1.3 billion. He has also been featured in Time Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People 2017 List. He received the prestigious Yash Bharati, the highest civilian honor of the Government of Uttar Pradesh. In 2020, he was ranked as the #62nd richest person in India, with a net worth of US$2.35 billion, according to Forbes. over 250 million registered users and counting. Paytm is a Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-approved e-wallet.
One of the most important beneficiaries of India’s 2016 demonetization, Paytm has succeeded 400 million users and 25 million transactions daily. Sharma was in the headlines in August 2018 by getting Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to take a position of $300 million in Paytm.
Sharma has also created Paytm Mall, an e-commerce business, and the Paytm Payments Bank as additional facilities for Paytm users. Without a doubt Paytm has become India’s no 1 mobile wallet.
“All these hardworking entrepreneurs’ have proven that where there is a will there is a way. These stories are motivational. inspiring and prove one fact over and over again – everything is possible; if you have the will to accomplish it! These successful people are strong-headed, their ideas were unique and they have not only transformed their lives from rags to riches but always inspire others too.”
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