Success By The Dozen

Forbes India picks 12 unlisted companies that have it in them to go places

Published: Nov 2, 2012 06:33:39 AM IST
Updated: Nov 8, 2012 08:30:40 AM IST
Success By The Dozen

Imran Khan, former captain of the Pakistan Cricket team and now an active politician, once said: “Fast bowlers are special. Once you find them you preserve them in cotton wool.” What is true of fast bowlers is also true of entrepreneurs. Very few economies are able to produce entrepreneurs in large numbers. India is that paradoxical economy where, in spite of a hostile environment, entrepreneurship thrives. Not convinced? You need to look no further than this year’s line-up of Forbes India’s Hidden Gems, our pick of unlisted companies that we think will go places. These range from the unfashionable but big business of metal recycling, imaging systems for cancer treatment, homegrown anti-virus software, water management solutions and crop protection.

Hidden Gems is an attempt to capture the purest face of entrepreneurship. This is the phase where the entrepreneur has been able to break away from the life-threatening revenue fluctuation of the early years but has not yet lost his innocence to the public markets. He/She hasn’t stopped taking bold business decisions because the stock might tank.

Our hidden gems this year have been picked from a list of venture capital and private equity investments that were made or committed to during the last one year. There is a reason to use the smart money route to create the list. The financial disclosure and management quality is tough to judge when a company is unlisted. It is better to use the diligence and the analysis done by the venture capital and private equity industry that invested $10 billion in India last year.

Now, if the smart money is good at investigating and investing, we also know that they are not infallible. They make mistakes as well. India doesn’t have too many funds that have given supernormal returns to their investors. The common rule of thumb is that 8 out of 10 venture investments fail or do not deliver high returns. How then is one to proceed? One good way is to look at the critical needs of the Indian economy and its citizens’ willingness to pay for it. This shortens the list and after that the job is to simply pick the leaders in each of the need areas. So, we know that with high metal prices there will be a need for recycled metal and enhanced pressure on increasing farm yields will need better crop protection. Once the leaders are identified, they are vetted through conversations with people who know these companies to understand if the management team has the passion to execute and deliver the results.

At the end of the process, the list had companies that frankly surprised us through their entrepreneurial track record and their ability to grow even in adverse conditions. That’s what holds out hope for the Indian economy. When the chips are down we can call our entrepreneurs. Can China do that?

A Word From Our Knowledge Partner, VENTURE INTELLIGENCE

When Forbes India approached us with the ‘Hidden Gems’ project suggesting the use of private equity/venture capital investments as a filter, it resonated with what we at Venture Intelligence have observed for long: PE/VC fund managers tend to sniff out businesses that are ripe for rapid growth. And they tend to do so well before “the crowds”.

Whether it’s BPO (the Spectramind in 2000), wind energy (a still privately held Suzlon in 2004) or second-hand truck finance (Shriram Transport Finance in 2005) by ChrysCapital or microfinance (SKS in 2007) and gold loans (Manappuram General Finance in 2007) by Sequoia Capital India, Indian PE/VC fund managers have earned their spurs by “boldly going where no investors have gone before”. And the best of them have been rewarded handsomely for their efforts—with each of the above-named investments bagging at least a 5x return.

Last year, as part of our ‘Private Equity Impact - 2011’ study, we compared how PE/VC-backed companies fared against their non-PE backed peers and indices over a 10-year period on compounded annual growth rates of key parameters such as sales, profitability, wages, foreign earnings and R&D. The PE/VC-backed companies were ahead on literally every single parameter, barring foreign earnings. We hope the list we have helped Forbes India put together helps uncover companies that will shine brightly in the years to come—and hopefully light up the readers’ portfolios as well.

Venture Intelligence, a division of TSJ Media, is a leading provider of data and analysis on PE, VC and M&A transactions in India as well as financials & valuations of private companies. For more information, visit

Here are the Forbes India’s 12 Hidden Gems

Century Metal Recycling: Precious metal
All that glitters is aluminium

Crystal Crop Protection: Grow Your Own Money

Reaping profits from new molecules, and distribution

Adiga's: Success on a plate
An appetite for scaling up

Eris Life Sciences: Drug Money
Generic pharmaceuticals can be a prescription for blockbuster growth

Capillary Technologies: Secret Cache
Safe online digital storage: File away your returns

Air Works Engineering: Flying First Class
It’s still possible to make money in the airline industry

Fourcee Infrastructure: Money on tap
A very liquid business idea

Doshion: Flush with Fund

Recycling water makes for a healthy planet (and a healthy balance sheet)

Global Talent Track: By the People
Human capital, handled right, is real currency

Perfint Healthcare: Checkmating cancer
Treating cancer can lead to pleasant side-effects

Quick Heal: Viral Success
Safeguarding computers as a key to growth

ReGen Powertech: Money from thin air
Sowing the wind to reap a fortune

Click here to see Forbes India's comprehensive coverage on the Covid-19 situation and its impact on life, business and the economy‚Äč

(This story appears in the 09 November, 2012 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from To visit our Archives, click here.)

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