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The 5 most promising entrepreneurs in India today- their story

The Indian start-up space has been chock-a-block with activity in 2018. As per a report published by, India currently hosts 26 unicorns. That basically means 26 start-ups in India are valued at $1 billion or more. That is phenomenal progress, especially after the lull in funding of start-ups we saw in 2016. But the start-ups have bounced back and how!

So, who are the people behind the success of these companies? How did they overcome the hurdles to success? Let us go through the commanders-in-chief, the CEOs, founders of these stars that shine so bright in the Indian business galaxy-

OYO Rooms- Ritesh Agarwal, Founder
Valuation- >$5 bn

OYO Rooms was found by Ritesh Agarwal when he was 16, the world’s youngest CEO. It is India’s largest chain of clean and standardized, yet very basic hotel rooms. The concept is unparalleled. There might be followers now but when OYO was conceived, there was not a single such business worldwide that could compare to OYO. OYO is now International!

Challenge- In 2016, OYO was faced with a lot of flax on social media and users alike, on not maintaining the standards promised. Also, in relation to the booking procedure and app etc and even shifting of customers to non-OYO rooms. There was one specific post that went viral and tarnished the brand immensely.

Solution- Ritesh amped up the feedback process. A coder at heart, he had a scoring system designed for the hotels. They identified that 95% of the complaints were from about the same 7-8% hotels that contributed 10-15% of business. They shut them out! Auditors were hired, checklists were made and paths got separated. His motto- ‘If you have not failed, you have not hardened yourself'.

Paytm- Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder
Valuation- >$10 bn

Paytm has brought a revolutionary shift in the retail industry entirely changing the way payments are made. A company that was founded as an online recharge/bill payment option has expanded its horizons to launch Paytm Mall. Vijay's dream is to make Paytm India's 1st $100 bn company. "The boys flip and sell. Men run and build legacies", says Vijay.

Challenge- Paytm was the favourite post the de-monetization was announced in 2016. Within a span of just over month, Paytm added over 20 mn new users. The back-end systems were not designed to face such challenges and was reported to have crashed a number of times with the users not being able to add money to their wallets.

Solution- Paytm was smothered with negative publicity around the same time because of an advertisement which was termed insensitive. The tech bug was an add-on. The company was scaling at a rate that was dangerously too fast for even themselves. However, instead of panicking the tech issue was resolved within a matter of days with no downtime to their app. Bravo!

Snapdeal- Kunal Bahl & Rohit Bansal, Founders
Valuation- >$1 bn

Snapdeal operates in the online retail space and much like a lot of competitors has been deeply affected by the M&A logistics. The Snapdeal that we knew till April 2017 was valued at >$ 6 bn. A failed merger, too many losses and an iron-will brought it back with Snapdeal 2.0! Again, joining the unicorn club with the most coveted re-entry.

Challenge- After the failed merger talks with Flipkart, Snapdeal was out of the race. Once the 2nd largest in the online market place, Snapdeal saw one of the steepest falls. Snapdeal was written off.

Solution- The founders, however, were not the ones to look back. Within a few months of the talks falling through, they scripted a major comeback and were cash flow positive again my the mid of 2018. There was a 100% reduction in cash burn. This was done by focussing only on the value products for the value customers. A complete turn-around.

Lets us draw the inspiration to taking challenges head-on! If the attitude is on your side, the valuation will follow suit.