One of them has actually succeeded in turning the tide of paper cheques that threatened to overwhelm clearing houses. He operates in cyberspace. Another prefers the physical product—the company she set up makes 2.5 lakh buns a day. Yes, you read that right. A third has created a service that will give you the contact details of the first two firms for free, if you were to call up a number.
They are India Inc’s new middle-class—not consumers but those finding new and innovative ways to cater to consumer demands. They are entrepreneurs who combine the energy of a start-up with the confidence of a big businessman.
They are the hidden leaders. Each one of them has either scale, or a unique business model, or a unique competitive advantage (or all of these). They are Gen Next, next not in the sense of the third generation of a venerable business family, but that they do things differently, inventing a new sector (iYogi and online tech support for individual PC users) or giving an existing one a new twist (Patu Keswani’s Lemon Tree hotels, which attract five-star clients with four-star prices). And, as Prof S. Manikutty of the IIM Ahmedabad observes, not only did they succeed in creating a niche for themselves, but some actually succeeded in driving out the vintage families from their businesses.
Business Today went out to round up a sample, looking for two things: the company should be bigger and with a lower risk profile than a start-up, and it should not be a mature business with a stately growth rate.
We looked for people who had made it on their own, without fear or favour. B-School stamps did not matter (as the Cremica story will show). Nor did we go looking for just sexy products (roads are not sexy, but putting up a toll gate is, as IRB Infrastructure realised).
As Technopak Advisors Chairman Arvind Singhal points out, this new “middle class” of entrepreneurs is in many ways, more “genuine” than their counterparts of yore since most of them are starting out in a field that is much more level than ever.
Out of the handful of 25 names gathered, BT chose to profile 10. Obviously there are many more: this is just a platter.
And this is not all that is about Gen Next. In future issues, BT also plans to profile the Gen Next as most people understand the term—the successful inheritors of established groups. Then may be a Gen Next listing of entrepreneurs who set foot in the global markets from the day one. But for now, turn over to India Inc’s emerging middle-class.
The Middle Kingdom
The ones we did not profile. But they also have fire in their belly.
Dolphin Offshore Enterprises
Promoter: Kripal Singh
Size: Rs. 352.5 crore
Hidden Leader Because: India’s first and leader in providing diving and underwater engineering services for oil and gas sector.
Hatsun Agro Product
Promoter: R.G. Chandramogan
Size: Rs. 1,1013 crore
Hidden Leader Because: Encouraged farmers to take up dairying for captive source of milk supply: ackquired dairies where it did not have its own presence.
Promoters: Nirmal Jain
Size: Rs. 966 crore
Hidden Leader Because: Started as a content company but IndiaInfoline is today a full-fledged financial powerhouse offering various financial solutions.
Promoter: Dinesh Agarwal
Size: Rs. 53 crore
Hidden Leader Because: Is the largest online B2B platform connecting buyers with suppliers.
Promoter: Sanjiv Narula
Hidden Leader Because: Started with Rs. 1 lakh and 25 sewing machines. Today, Lilliput brand is present across 210 stores in India and 18 stores in eight countries.
Promoter: R.C. Juneja
Size: Rs. 920 crore
Hidden Leader Because: Among the top players in the pharma industry.
Promoter: M Venkatramaiah
Size: Rs. 500 Crore
Hidden Leader Because: Dominates hybrid cotton seeds; to enter rice and corn seeds.
Promoter: Deepak Pahwa
Size: Rs. 300 crore
Hidden Leader Because: Has a grip on air-engineering technologies and has factories around the globe.
Promoter: Shashikant Patel
Size: Rs. 970 Crore
Hidden Leader Because: Grown from a humble over-the-counter player to being a herbal and nutraceutical major with a diversified international presence.
Promoters: M.L. Dua & R.K. Dua
Size: Rs. 409 Crore
Hidden Leader Because: Leads in hawai slippers; Competes with China to supply canvas shoes to Tesco and Wal-Mart.
Ridhi Siddhi Gluco Biols
Promoter: Ganpatraj L. Chowdhary
Size: Rs. 534 Crore
Hidden Leader Because: Country’s largest starch and starch derivatives manufacturer.
Promoter: Kunwer Sachdev
Size: Rs. 400 crore
Hidden Leader Because: By focussing on tech innovations, it created a strong brand in the unorganised sector of inverters.
Promoters: B. Soundararajan & G.B. Sundararajan
Size: Rs. 2,030 crore
Hidden Leader Because: By pioneering contract farming in poultry, Suguna has not only grown rapidly but has also created thousands of entrepreneurs.
Seminter India Organics Promoter: Sameer Mehra
Hidden Leader Because: Family business was wind energy, but he began as a supplier of organic cotton fibre, oilseeds, herbs and medicinal plants.
Promoter: Jay Gupta
Size: Rs. 67 Crore
Hidden Leader Because: Having expanded to 125 stores, this multibrand discount chain is planning to add 80 stores by next year.