With experts projecting more than 11,500 new enterprises being established by 2020, the start-up ecosystem in India is easily one of the fastest growing in the world. Backed by an expanding domestic market and better funding opportunities, entrepreneurs today are raring to transform dreams into success stories.
However, the road doesn’t run as smoothly for everyone.
For every successful Ola and Housing, there are scores of bright, young entrepreneurs whose ideas remain bound to their laptops in search of that elusive ‘Yes’. In addition, enterprises based in smaller towns also face everyday roadblocks if their immediate business environment is still driven by traditional businesses and conservative outlooks.
It takes a unique strength of resolve to stay true to one’s vision despite repeated setbacks. Fortunately, several entrepreneurs from across Indian cities are motivated, resilient, and definitely up for the challenge. From alternative sectors like sanitation and clean energy to wearable art and fitness, here are five winning business ideas—all driven by exceptional young leaders who believe that ‘they can’.
Affordable energy solutions
Mumbai-based Bhushan Trivedi’s enterprise is based on one hard-hitting fact: Over 300 million people in India still do not have access to electricity, thus falling back on inefficient and often dangerous sources of lighting like oil lamps. His social venture Picoenergy attempts to solve this with Helios—a solar-powered product that provides both a light source as well as mobile charging points. Currently, Picoenergy works with residents in Mumbai’s Dahisar area where more than 20,000 people live without electricity. Trivedi firmly believes that access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy can turn even the most adverse environments into a productive one, thereby improving quality of life and catalyzing economic prosperity.
Hygiene for health
“Hygiene is still considered a luxury in India.” It was this idea—as appalling as it’s true—that drove Mohd. Shahid Hussain, a Delhi-based entrepreneur, to establish Aqsa Marketing. The company deals in inexpensive and high-quality hygiene products, with a mission to ensure that every person can afford basic hygiene, irrespective of their economic backgrounds. That’s quite a calling considering that less than half of India’s total population wash their hands with soap—a fundamental way to check the spread of infectious diseases and improve health standards. Aqsa products are presently available in eight Indian cities, with plans of expansion to 25 more.
Priest on call
Imagine the headache of arranging for specifically a Bengali priest or a Gujarati purohit at short notice in Pune? The cosmopolitan nature of most Indian towns ensures an ever-growing demand for experienced regional priests to conduct a wide variety of Hindu rites. Vikas Jha, a Pune-based entrepreneur, addresses this typically Indian need with Pandit on Click, which connects over 250 registered pundits across communities to a wide consumer base. He believes that the service provides an economic boost to many priests in the city, who are forced to turn to other professions in the absence of a better network. Having overseen a successful launch in Pune, Jha is now keen to take his model across the country.
Art at every step
An engineer and MBA by education, Ankeeta Deb eventually turned to her childhood passion for traditional art when she co-founded Rivir — a casual footwear line inspired by various facets of life, and designed in collaboration with artisans and handicraft experts from across the country. One of her biggest challenges during the journey, according to Deb, was getting through to a largely-male-dominated manufacturing industry, but the excitement of exploring new, original designs in wearable art has kept her motivated through setbacks. She eventually hopes to promote a wider range of art and designs from indigenous artists across India through Rivir.
The Delhi-based duo of Kamaljeet Rana and Prerana Parihar is keen on cracking the mystery behind what makes working out still so unpopular among most of India’s population and how this can be reversed. Their aim is to create a multifaceted fitness studio where people can participate in a range of different activities that keep them engaged, interested, and also in shape. The toughest challenge for them, however, came from their families that did not consider a fitness start-up to be a viable career choice. Besides encouraging physical fitness in India, Rana and Parihar also hope that their success story can break through such traditional mindsets and inspire others to achieve their potential.
Meet Bhushan, Shahid, Vikas, Ankeeta, Kamaljeet and Prerana on Season 2 of Haywards 5000 Hauslay ki Udaan, India’s first start-up reality TV show, and a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs from across Indian towns and smaller cities to showcase innovative business ideas and share stories of unrelenting resolve.
This content was created by HT Brand Studio and not the editorial team