True Grit: The phenomenal growth of the Indian entrepreneurial spirit

From JRD Tata to Dhirubhai Ambani and Sanjeev Bikhchandani, how entrepreneurs helped India through its transition from an agrarian economy to state-controlled industry and on to an era where unicorns have taken the centrestage
Published: Aug 21, 2021
Sunil Mittal

Image by : (left) Reuters and Amit Bhargava / Bloomberg via Getty Images

  • True Grit: The phenomenal growth of the Indian entrepreneurial spirit
  • Amul
  • Tata Steel
  • JRD Tata
  • Hero Cycles
  • Dhirubhai Ambani
  • Lijjat
  • Har prasad nanda
  • MS Swaminathan
  • Azim Premji
  • Karsanbhai Patel
  • F C Kohli_
  • Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
  • Narayan and Sudha Murthy
  • Anji Reddy
  • Shiv Nadar
  • Sunil Mittal
  • GR Gopinath
  • Sanjeev Bikchandani
  • Flipkart cofounders
  • Meesho cofounders
  • Pharmeasy

Sunil Mittal had begun in 1984, assembling push-button phones in India, replacing the old-fashioned, bulky rotary phones. He identified an opportunity in mobile telecom in 1994, successfully bid for a telecom licence, and launched services under the Airtel brand name. Bharti Airtel’s early foreign partnerships helped it grow with much-needed capital, resources, and strategic advice. These helped it combat the inherent advantages of state-owned and business group-affiliated rivals, and grow into one of India’s largest telecom service providers. The business model was innovative, and IT management services and hardware (telecom towers) were outsourced to vendors. Fixed costs were converted to variable costs. As a result, India now has one of the lowest-priced telecom services in the world.