Time to time, business men and women have been an inspiration to young ones of their generations on how to start with small and make it big. Unlike America, India has not seen any Industrial revolution yet individuals in India in every decade have gone through their entrepreneurial journeys and ended up making global brands. To name a few, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata pioneered India's industrial sector and build a brand that's now called Tata Group; Late Dhirubhai Ambani started with very small business of selling shells and oil products, and end up with making biz giant that's now called "Reliance Industries". 

People like these two inspired many in the country to start-up and how to work against all odds. We have jot down some of such individuals in last 25 years, who have been inspirations for entrepreneurs, even to date.

10. Ajit Balakrishnan

Ajit Balakrishnan is an Internet entrepreneur known for his venture Rediff.com, which he founded in 1995. Currently, he is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Rediff.com. Rediff.com was listed on NASDAQ in 2001 and now ranks among India's most successful Internet companies.

Once touted as "Google of India", Rediff.com India Ltd. provides internet based online services. The Company markets specific channels, community features, local language editions, search capabilities, and online shopping. Rediff.com serves customers throughout India.

Ajit Balakrishnan holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Kerala and is an MBA from IIM Calcutta. He recently chaired a committee set up by the ministry of human resource development on education and entrepreneurship to provide inputs for the National Education Policy.

9. Sabeer Bhatia

Got famed by his venture Hotmail, Sabeer Bhatia became a poster-boy in 90s for inventing Hotmail, the first web-based e-mailing system. Sabeer emigrated to the US in the 1988 and co-founded Hotmail in 1996. Hotmail then eventually acquired by Microsoft in 1998 for an estimated $400 million.

Born in 1968 in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, Sabeer studied at the California Institute of Technology transferring from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS. He then went on to obtain a masters in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

Sabeer briefly worked for Apple as a hardware engineer before moving to a Cannon subsidiary FirePower Systems Inc. He was stumble upon by the fact that software was accessible on the internet via a browser, which birthed the idea of email in the browser.

Sabeer worked at Microsoft for one year after the Hotmail acquisition and then in April 1999 he left Microsoft, and founded an e-commerce firm, Arzoo Inc, before starting a free messaging service called JaxtrSMS.

8. Ajim Premji

In 1966, Azim Premji, who was mere 21-year-old, took over his father's legacy, which was called Western Indian Vegetable Products, and later diversified the company that was making soaps, lighting products, baby products etc, until 1980s when he again diversified the company into computer manufacturer and then also entered into IT softwares along with changing the name of the company to Wipro, which is now among India's top-5 IT firms.

A Stanford alumnus, PremJi has been listed among the 100 most influential people by Time magazine, two times,  in 2004 and then in 2011. With an estimated net worth of US $32.8 billion, PremJi is one of the richest people in India.

7. Shiv Nadar

The 3rd richest person in India, Shiv Nadar founded HCL in the 1976. HCL is now a $9.9 billion (revenue) company and India's third-largest software services provider by market cap. HCL entered into the software services business in 1991. In May 2019, HCL was among the top 20 largest publicly traded companies in India with a market capitalization of $21.5 billion.

Shiv Nadar holds a degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore. 

Prior to starting HCL, Nadar and his partners had venture called Microcomp, a company which focused on selling tele-digital calculators in the Indian market.

6. Sanjeev Bikhchandani

Image - Outlook [Photo by Vishal Koul]

Arguably the first successful dot-com entrepreneur in India, Sanjeev Bikhchandani introduced series of hit dot-com websites in late 90s including job portal 'Naukri.com', real estate portal '99Acres.com' and matrimonial website 'Jeevansathi.com'. These websites are still running successfully across the country.

Known as India's Internet pioneer, Sanjeev founded the company Info Edge in 1995 and the company has invested in many young tech startups including unicorns such as Zomato, PolicyBazaar and many other young startups. He later also launched educational portal Siksha.com.

In 2006,  Info Edge became India’s first dot-com company to get listed on the Bombay & National Stock Exchanges -- BSE & NSE.

5. Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Founder and CEO of Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, has been featured in Time Magazines World's 100 Most Influential People in 2017 list. It was in year 2000 when he launched One97 Communications, which is now PayTM's parent company. With One97, Vijay used to offer mobile content including news, cricket scores, ringtones, jokes and exam results.

Not many aware that even before One97/PayTM, Vijay's earliest venture was IndiaSite.net, which he started with college friend Harinder Takhar (now CEO of PayTM Labs) in 1997. Two years later, US-based Lotus Interworks bought Indiasite.net reportedly for $1 million.

Vijay, who is an engineering graduate from Delhi Technological University (DTU), is deeply inspired by software stars like US entrepreneur Marc Andreessen and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.

4. Sridhar Vembu

Sridhar Vembu [Image - fridaymagazine.ae]

Founder & CEO of Zoho Corporation, Sridhar is recipient of India's fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri, which he got awarded this year.  Born in a Tamil family of farmers from a village in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu, Sridhar started his professional career working for Qualcomm as a wireless engineer in San Diego, California, before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Sridhar, who is an alumnus of  IIT-Madras in Electrical Engineering (1989 batch), started a company AdventNet in 1996, which was eventually renamed to Zoho Corporation in 2009, focusing on providing SaaS support to customer relationship management services.  

3. Sandeep Bansal

Best known as the co-founder of India's home-grown e-commerce giant, Flipkart, Sachin Bansal becomes a poster boy for budding entrepreneurs in the country. Sachin, along with his co-founder Binny Bansal took Flipkart to its peak by capturing the dominant position with 39.5% market share in Indian e-commerce industry, in 2017.

In 2018, Flipkart valuation reached to $20.8 billion. In the same year, Flipkart was acquired by Walmart (77% stake) for $16 billion. 

Sachin, who is an computer engineering graduate from IIT Delhi, become a poster boy inspiring many upcoming entrepreneurs in 2010s.

2. N R Narayana Murthy

Co-founder of Infosys, Narayana Murthy has been described as father of the Indian IT sector by Time magazine and CNBC. He has been listed among the 12 "greatest entrepreneurs of our time" by Fortune magazine, along with Apple's late chief Steve Jobs, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
An alumnus of IIT-Kanpur and IIM- Ahmedabad, Narayaa Murthy leaded Infosys since its establishment in 1981 up to year 2014. 

In 1999, Infosys became the first Indian company to be listed on Nasdaq, the American stock exchange. Recently, this year Infosys became the 4th Indian company to cross $100 billion in market capitalization.

In 2006, Narayana Murthy retired as CEO of Infosys and now consults and acts as a mentor to young Indian entrepreneurs & startups.

1. Dhirubhai Ambani

One of the early entrepreneurs of 20th century India, Late Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, popularly known as Dhirubhai Ambani was a successful Indian business tycoon who founded Reliance Industries, one of the most diversified business conglomerate and the largest publicly traded company in India, by market capitalisation. Reliance is the largest company in India as measured by revenue after recently surpassing the government-owned Indian Oil Corporation.

In 1966, he formed Reliance Commercial Corporation which later became Reliance Industries on 8 May 1973. He also launched the popular clothing brand 'Vimal' during this time.

Late Dhirubhai Ambani was featured among Power 50-the most powerful people in Asia thrice, by Asiaweek magazine, in years -  1996, 1998 and 2000.


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