Bootstrapped entrepreneurs: On their own dime

Published: Aug 4, 2017

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In the entrepreneurial universe, receiving venture capital or PE investments is a milestone that is celebrated as funding brings with it external validation and sometimes sky-high valuations. But soon after the champagne corks have popped, the reality of equity dilution, or ceding control to investors, sinks in, which is why some founders prefer to grow their companies methodically on their own dime. This list includes ventures from shrimp exporters to oncology drug makers with one common thread—they are bootstrapped. These entrepreneurs have built these self-sustaining businesses on their own terms.

Apco Infratech
Apco Infratech, incorporated in 1992 by Anil Kumar Singh, has interests in the development of highways, energy, urban infrastructure and industrial development with an outstanding order book of 5,500 crore. Most of its revenue comes from road construction. The company is currently involved in building Z-Morh, a 6.5-km tunnel on the Leh-Srinagar highway that will provide round-the-year access to Sonamarg, a well-known tourist destination in Kashmir. Apco has also bagged projects from the National Highways Authority of India to construct the Meerut-Bulandshahr and the Delhi-Meerut Expressway.
rating: CRISIL A-
Operating Income: 1,253.1 crore
Location: Gurugram

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ASK Automotive
Set up in 1988 by KS Rathee and wife Vijay Rathee, the auto component manufacturer boasts marquee clients—Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj, TVS, Yamaha and Maruti Suzuki among others. In addition, it is also a supplier to auto component makers like Sunbeam, Rockman Industries and Rico Auto. ASK, which specialises in brake manufacturing, has 10 plants located in Gurugram and Manesar and in 2015 set up a unit in Gujarat.
rating: CRISIL A+
Operating Income: 1,081.3 crore
Location: Gurugram

CRI Pumps
Started as a manufacturer of irrigation equipment by the late K Gopal in Coimbatore in 1961, CRI Pumps is today one of the leading makers of pumps in the world. The company has a global focus with a strong distribution network across 120 countries and it is one of the few companies that exports pumps to China.
rating: CRISIL A
Operating Income: 1,366 cr
(Consolidated figure)
Location: Coimbatore

Devi Sea Foods
rating: CRISIL A2+
(Rating is for company’s short-term debt)
Operating Income: 860 crore
Location: Visakhapatnam

Falcon Marine Exports
Falcon Marine Exports is one of the largest exporters of seafood from India and its key markets include the US, Japan, Europe, Middle East and Australia. The company processes and exports marine products, mainly shrimps. About 70-80 percent of revenues come from exports to the US. Falcon was founded by Tara Ranjan Patnaik and Prava Ranjan Patnaik in the early 1980s and, over the years, it has diversified shrimp procurement through aquaculture and contract farming from farmers across West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh besides Odisha, where it is headquartered. Its products are sold under the Tarax, Royal Gold, Aquagem, Sea Gold and Nice brands.
rating: CRISIL A
Operating Income: 974 crore
Location: Bhubaneswar

Gawar Construction
Established in 1997 by Rajender Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Ravinder Kumar as a partnership firm, Gawar Construction has a track record of executing road projects in northern India. It was reconstituted as a closely-held limited company in 2008. It has bagged several contracts from state governments and the National Highways Authority of India, and has carved a name for itself in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP and Bihar. While road projects account for over 90 percent of its revenue, the company is also into other infrastructure projects such as constructing buildings and flyovers.
Crisil rating: CRISIL A
operating income: 1,308.4 crore
Location: Gurugram


Hamilton Housewares
Hamilton Housewares sells plasticware and glassware under the Milton and Treo brands. Started as the proprietorship firm DG Glass in 2000 by Ajay Vaghani, it was reconstituted as a private limited company with its present name in 2003. Hamilton is the largest player in the household plasticware and glassware segment in India. Its subsidiary Hamilton Writing Instruments makes ballpoint pens and refills under the brand name Claro. The company’s TV commercial for its ‘Leak Lock Steel Tiffin’ was shot using only an iPhone.
rating: CRISIL AA-
Operating Income: 988.7 crore  
(Consolidated figure)
Location: Mumbai


KLJ Plasticizers
Formed in 1967 by Kanhaiya Lal Jain, KLJ Plasticizers is the largest manufacturer of plasticizers in South Asia, with an installed capacity of 3 lakh tonnes as on March 31, 2017. The company manufactures one of the largest ranges of plasticizers—chemicals added to a plastic to make it flexible, resilient and easier to handle. The New Delhi-based KLJ Group has production facilities in Silvassa, Bharuch, in Gujarat and in Thailand.
rating: CRISIL A+
perating Income: 3,680 crore
(Consolidated figure)
Location: New Delhi


MBG  Commodities
Set up in 1982 as Maheshwari Brothers, it was converted into a private limited company MBG Commodities in 2012. Promoted by brothers Raj Kumar Mandhani and Ashok Kumar Mandhani, the company has been trading in imported coal for over two decades. It has the advantage of an established sourcing network and the experience of its promoters. Its subsidiary, Maheshwari Mining, is a developer and owner of utility-scale solar energy projects in Telangana.
rating: CRISIL BBB-
Operating Income: 2,570.9 crore
Location: Hyderabad

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MSN Laboratories
MSN Labs, established in 2003, is a manufacturer of active pharma ingredients (API) and finished dosages. Led by its chairman MSN Reddy, a pharma industry veteran of 20 years, the company has eight API manufacturing units in India and three dosage facilities. One API unit and one dosage facility is dedicated to oncology. The company’s website claims that MSN Labs is the youngest pharma company in the world to have implemented enterprise resource planning software SAP for all its commercial operations.  
Crisil rating: CRISIL A
Operating Income: 1,767.8 crore
(Consolidated figure)
Location: Hyderabad


SCM Garments

Crisil rating: CRISIL A-
Operating Income: 950.7 crore
Location: Coimbatore


SP Singla Constructions
rating: CRISIL A-
Operating Income: 969.7 crore
(Consolidated figure)
Location: Delhi


Vedant  Fashions
Crisil rating: CRISIL A+
Operating Income:  504 crore
Location: Kolkata

Operating income is for FY16; rating refers to Crisil’s long-term debt rating

Edited by: Pramod Mathew
Writers: Aveek Datta, Paramita Chatterjee, Pravin Palande, Salil Panchal and Samar Srivastava

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(This story appears in the 18 August, 2017 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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