Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Shining stars: The class of 2018

A year on, the previous batch of 30 Under 30 has hit various milestones: While some have expanded globally, broken sporting records, raised fresh funds and scaled up, others have faced adversity with intelligence and foresight

Published: Feb 9, 2019 07:35:51 AM IST
Updated: Feb 13, 2019 11:31:31 AM IST

Shining stars: The class of 2018
Image: Mexy Xavier


Vicky Kaushal

Vicky Kaushal had a blockbuster 2018, starring in five films across platforms. His performances in Raazi and Sanju were widely appreciated, as were his outings in Netflix originals, Lust Stories and Love Per Square Foot. Kaushal has since emerged as one of the most sought-after actors in the film industry. He began 2019 with a bang, as Uri: The Surgical Strike earned rave reviews and strong box office sales. The 30-year-old will be next seen in Karan Johar’s Takht.

Kshitij Marwah
Founder, Tesseract Inc; Research affiliate, MIT

Kshitij Marwah and the team at Tesseract launched the world’s first Augmented Reality headset that works with any smartphone; it was renamed from Voxel to Holoboard. For the very first time, an Indian product won the TechCrunch Asia Hardware Battlefield in Shanghai, which had more than 600 entries from 15 countries. Holoboard also won the Nasscom Design4India Award and Nasscom Emerge 50 League of 10 for 2018. Tesseract started selling Holoboard internationally and has clocked more than $100,000 worth of sales in a six-month period.

The Forbes India Impact:Forbes India has added impetus to our journey, and given us belief that we are on the right track. Our goal was always to create the next wave of technological and design-led innovation out of India. Being recognised by Forbes India has helped both us and the company to be known nationally and internationally.”

Suhani Parekh
Founder and creative director, Misho

The year 2018 was rewarding for Misho, which started retailing at Selfridges London and luxury department store Isetan in Tokyo. Suhani Parekh’s creations were published in numerous magazines, including Vogue USA and Elle Ukraine. Vogue Paris carried a profile of the designer too. Apart from her jewellery being showcased at London Fashion Week, her pieces were spotted on red carpets, with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West, Claire Foy and Deepika Padukone wearing them.

While her brand was well received by the global fashion community, being on the Forbes India 30 Under 30 list helped take the label to audiences outside of the design and fashion community.

Abhinav Pathak, Saketh BSV, Yogesh Ghatrule
Co-founders, Perpule

For the team at Perpule, the year has been “fantastic and incredible”, says Abhinav Pathak. The company, which offers consumers a self-checkout option at retail outlets, raised $4.7 million in Series A funding from Prime Venture Partners, Kalaari Capital and Venture Highway.

Working with large-format retailers such as Big Bazaar, Spar, HyperCity and Vishal Mega Mart, Perpule has about 5 lakh users with 20 percent month-on-month growth. “We also launched a cafeteria solution, the self-checkout equivalent for QSRs, such as food courts in corporate tech parks and malls. We are present in over 20 office spaces,” he adds. “This year, we will go deeper with existing clients and are looking to expand in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.”

The Forbes India Impact: “It’s great in terms of the credibility it brings. Being on the list is a milestone that brought a lot of personal validation to the team and the work we are doing,” says Pathak.

Vidit Aatrey, Sanjeev Barnwal
Co-founders, Meesho

Meesho, which enables individuals and small businesses to retail using social media, raised $50 million in Series C funding from new investors, including Shunwei Capital, DST Partners and RPS Ventures. In 2018, the company says its business considerably expanded, and their users jumped from 50,000 to 50 lakh. Meesho has started cross-border operations, importing products from China and selling directly to Indian customers. Along with apparel, Meesho now retails accessories and cosmetics.

The Forbes India Impact: “We’ve achieved great success after being a part of Forbes India 30 Under 30 list, and so much has happened for us since. It helped put us in the limelight,” says Aatrey.

Jasprit Bumrah

The Indian pacer had a fantastic 2018, bamboozling the best of batsmen with his lethal deliveries. Bumrah took 48 wickets in nine Tests—the most by an Indian in a calendar year—at a measly average of 21.02. In the four overseas Tests that India won last year, the 25-year-old picked 29 wickets at 14.96. He was the highest wicket-taker, along with Nathan Lyon, in the recently concluded series against Australia. The World’s No 1 ODI bowler also took 22 wickets in 13 ODIs at 16.63 last year.

Harmanpreet Kaur

The T20 captain carried her rich form into 2018, becoming the first Indian woman to score a century in the format. With her 51-ball 103 against New Zealand in the T20 World Cup, she set the tone for the team’s successful run in the round-robin phase, where they beat eventual champions, Australia. India’s loss to England in the semis opened a can of worms over the non-selection of Mithali Raj. However, her performance overshadowed the bad press, and the 183 runs she scored in the tournament earned her the captain’s spot in ICC’s women’s T20 team of the year.


Shining stars: The class of 2018
Image: Edric George

Sahil Naik

For miniature sculptor Sahil Naik, the past year has been “incredible”. He was shortlisted for the inaugural Arteprize, instituted by Artevue in collaboration with the Delfina Foundation. Additionally, he participated in group shows at the Delfina Foundation; the Aomori Contemporary Art Center in Aomori, Japan; Khoj International Artists’ Association in New Delhi; Condo at Bridget Donahue, New York and Experimenter Kolkata. On a long residency at the ACAC in Aomori Japan, he also participated in various art fairs. Naik continues to live and work in Ponda, Goa, and says the Forbes India 30 Under 30 recognition came as validation to his aspirations. “It’s reassuring to have your hard work find appreciation,” he says.

Ranjan Bordoloi
Founder and creative director of Studio Bordoloi

Bordoloi took a break from production work to spend a good part of the year with his mother, who battled cancer and succumbed to it. In spite of the setback, he served on the jury of The Park Elle Decor Student Award 2018. In addition, the Red dot Design Museum in Singapore offered to showcase one of his products for almost a year. He worked on the USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) Project at Mysuru with Rosewood inlay artisans, in collaboration with NIFT Bengaluru, and participated in several exhibitions, including India Design ID; D’code, curated by architect Ashiesh Shah in Mumbai; and Raw Collaborative, curated by Rooshad Shroff in Ahmedabad.

The Forbes India Impact: “It has been immense for me in terms of visibility and credibility. I was on the front page of every newspaper in the Northeast. I have received several collaboration proposals in terms of funding, manufacturing and exhibitions since then,” says Bordoloi.  

Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh
Co-founders, Unacademy

It was a power-packed year for Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh, the co-founders of Unacademy, a digital education platform comprising a mobile app (on Android and iOS), web portal and a YouTube channel. The Bengaluru-based startup onboarded 5,000 new educators to its platform, taking the total count to 9,000. From offering 1.5 lakh video tutorials in 2017, Unacademy now offers 7 lakh tutorials that attract 35 million monthly views on its platform. But that’s not all. The edu-tech startup raised its Series C round of funding of $21 million from its existing investors, taking its total fund raise to $38.6 million.

The Forbes India Impact: “It has given us more visibility in the global startup community. Having been showcased as young, successful entrepreneurs has attracted more like-minded people who wish to contribute towards strengthening the Unacademy brand,” says Gaurav Munjal.

Rohit Ramasubramanian, Karan Gupta, Himesh Joshi, Arjit Gupta
Co-founders, Zefo

Used goods platform Zefo has survived and thrived despite tough competition from classifieds portals such as Quikr and OLX, as well as rental startups such as Rentomojo and Furlenco. Rohit Ramasubramanian, CEO, says the company is on track to grow about 60 percent (in terms of both units sold and revenue) in FY19 from the year ago. The company has launched a new category—laptops—last year. This apart, Zefo now ships TVs, laptops and phones across the country as against just Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru in 2017. The firm also raised $3 million from FJ Labs, co-founded by Fabrice Grinda, one of the founders of OLX.

Bhumi Pednekar

The Dum Laga Ke Haisha actor had a relatively quiet 2018 with just one release, Lust Stories. However, Bhumi Pednekar’s performance in Zoya Akhtar’s segment of the four-film anthology was widely lauded. 2019 promises to be a busy year for the 29-year-old, with films such as Sonchiriya and Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare scheduled for release. That apart, she has signed Karan Johar’s Takht, which will hit screens in 2020.

Mithila Palkar

This internet sensation became part of Bollywood’s mainstream in 2018. Mithila Palkar, a millennial favourite with 1.5 million followers on Instagram and 32,000+ on Twitter, starred opposite Irrfan Khan and Malayalam heartthrob Dulquer Salmaan in Karwaan. The movie failed at the box office, but Palkar’s performance won praise. She won the best debut (female) Filmfare Award Marathi 2018 for the film.

She starred in Season 2 of Netflix’s Little Things, and was part of GQ’s 50 most influential Young Indians in 2018. She starts this year with another big-budget Netflix original called Chopsticks, under the ‘See What’s Next: Asia’ project. Chopsticks, which also stars Abhay Deol, is produced by Ashvini Yardi of Vineyard Productions.

Shining stars: The class of 2018Image: Nishant Ratnakar for Forbes India

Alan Alexander Kaleekal
Founder and creative director, Kaleekal

2018 was remarkable for Kaleekal (30). The founder of his eponymous label set up his 4,000-square foot experiential retail space, Rahel, in Thiruvananthapuram. Kaleekal converted a 100-year-old building to house his curated collection of saris, ready-to-wear garments, jewellery, home décor products and artifacts. That’s not all. Kaleekal is now working on a project with the Meghalaya government and the French embassy to introduce Ramie, a plant-based fabric, to reduce the use of synthetic fabrics and employ more handloom weavers in Northeast India. Kaleekal also did a khadi menswear collection for Raymond, and is working on rehabilitating flood-affected weavers in Kerala.

Aditya Sharma
Partner, McKinsey & Company

The youngest partner in India at the global consultancy firm, Sharma, an IIT-Kharagpur graduate, has consolidated his position within the firm.

In 2018, Sharma spearheaded McKinsey’s global analytics leadership forum (ALFs), which are cross sector discussion forums held for its clients in India, the UK, and Latin and North America. Sharma leads multiple teams and helps corporates create their data and analytics strategies.

“We wanted to ensure that our clients leverage the power of data and analytics and make it work for their businesses. Most companies understand the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of data analytics but not the ‘how’,” Sharma says. The ALFs were part of that strategy and will continue to be organised by McKinsey in 2019, across more countries and with greater frequency.

The Forbes India Impact: “Recognition and visibility became that much easier,” says Sharma.

Shining stars: The class of 2018Image: Mexy Xavier

Chirag Chhajer
Co-owner, Burma Burma

In the past year, Chhajer’s Burma Burma has continued to draw diners towards vegetarian Burmese cuisine. It has opened two new outlets, one in Bengaluru and the other in Noida, to add to the existing ones in Mumbai, Gurugram and Delhi. For FY19, the company is on track to achieve a turnover of ₹35 crore from five outlets in five cities. At the moment, Chhajer and his partner Ankit Gupta plan to raise funds to open 12 new outlets in the next three years, in India and abroad.

Shraddha Bhansali
Founder, Candy & Green

Candy & Green, the all-vegetarian clean-eating restaurant’s seasonal menu is now in its fifth edition. The bar’s house wine, a special blend sourced from a Nashik winery, is the highest selling beverage on the menu. With new iterations from its rooftop farm, Candy & Green broke even last year. She also donned a new hat—that of a speaker on sustainability and slow food, and talks about the importance of sourcing ingredients consciously, and sustainable practices at various academic institutions.

The Forbes India Impact: “Being part of the prestigious list boosted my confidence immensely. Today, nearly every news outlet has written about Candy & Green. I’ve found several new platforms to share my story and philosophy,” says Bhansali.

Satish Kannan and Enbasekar Dinadayalane
Co-founders, DocsApp

Satish Kannan and Enbasekar Dinadayalane, the co-founders of DocsApp, a curated doctor consultation mobile app, have much to celebrate. Over the last 12 months, their mobile app has seen the addition of 3,000 specialist doctors and has crossed 5 million downloads from Google Play. Currently, more than 3,500 patients get connected to doctors via DocsApp daily, as compared to 2,000 patients a year ago. Nearly 65 percent of its users are from rural India. The startup, founded in mid-2015, has also reported a 150 percent growth in revenue.

Deepanjali Dalmia
Founder, Heyday Care

Dalmia’s Heyday Care, which makes biodegradable sanitary napkins from bamboo fibre (it has high absorbance levels) and cornstarch (for its soft texture), has built up a client base of 3.5 lakh in the past year. In 2019, the company plans to launch a line of organic and biodegradable diapers, targeting India’s booming baby care industry. Heyday Care claims to grow 40 percent each month and is also looking to solidify its international presence.  Although she has got much attention from investors, Dalmia intends to remain bootstrapped for now.

The Forbes India Impact: “The Forbes India 30 Under 30 recognition helped put us on the map. We have been getting inquiries from Leh-Ladakh to Kochi. There are inquiries from the global market, from Dubai, Singapore and the US,” says Dalmia.

Gautam Bhatia
Legal writer and lawyer

As a lawyer who frequently blogs and contributes to legal journals, 2018 marked the first time Gautam Bhatia’s articles were cited in judgments, in the Sabarimala and the Section 377 verdicts. As part of the team that argued the Aadhaar case, Bhatia calls the judgment a mixed bag. “The arguments we made on the unconstitutionality were not upheld,” he says, but he was satisfied that the mandatory use of the biometric ID for bank accounts and phone connections was disallowed. The court also ruled in favour of an opt-out provision, but the government hasn’t made that into a law.

Shining stars: The class of 2018Image: Mexy Xavier

Jubin Nautiyal

Over the past year, Dehradun’s Jubin Nautiyal has lent his voice to several film scores and music videos. His ‘Gazab Ka Hai Din’ from Tapsee Pannu-starrer Dil Junglee was along the lines of his previous ‘The Humma Song’ from Ok Jaanu, both being much-liked remixes of yesteryear hit numbers. He also worked in films such as Hate Story 4, Baaghi 2, Bengali film Jamai Badal, and the recent Emraan Hashmi-starrer Why Cheat India. His most recent releases from T-Series include ‘Ta Chuma’, an electronica take on a Garhwali folk song, and ‘Ae Mere Des’.

Ankit Agarwal
CEO, HelpUsGreen

HelpUsGreen has grown fivefold in the past year, says CEO Ankit Agarwal. The firm is on track to end FY19 with revenues of ₹5 crore as against ₹1 crore in FY18. Armed with a million-dollar cheque from the Draper Richard Kaplan Foundation and Tata Trusts’ Social Alpha, among others, HelpUsGreen got ample firepower to open two new factories in Kanpur and Tirupathi (they already had one in Kanpur). Now, they are looking to expand their product portfolio. The firm has launched a charcoal-free incense and Florafoam, a biodegradable alternative to styrofoam. A do-it-yourself incense pack is set to hit the markets in February.

Shining stars: The class of 2018
Image: Aditi Tailang

Janhavi Joshi and Nupura Kirloskar
Co-founders, BleeTech

The two co-founders of BleeTech Innovations—which manufactures a smart watch, claimed to be India’s first wearable for the hearing impaired—continued to consolidate their position last year.
BleeTech won a National Entrepreneurship Award from the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in 2018. It also got a grant from the Maharashtra state, through a startups programme, where winners got work orders from the government.

BleeTech launched Ask Blee in 2018, a platform that answers questions that the hearing impaired would have relating to news, general knowledge or finance. It has already launched an entertainment and awareness channel on YouTube called Blee TV.

Its other product, the wearable Blee watch, after a pilot of 30 devices, is now being readied for manufacturing in the current year from its factory in Pune, where the company is based.    

Rohan M Ganapathy and Yashas Karanam
Co-founders, Bellatrix Aerospace

While they were at the prototype stage previously, in 2018, Bellatrix has had many successful lab tests, says Yashas Karanam, its director and COO. Bellatrix works in two different areas—satellite propulsion and rocket propulsion—and has an order from Isro for their satellite propulsion system.

Bellatrix is close to wrapping up a funding round too, says Karanam. They also received recognition in the form of two awards: The Space Tech Startup Award from the government of Andhra Pradesh, and the Promising Space Technology Startup of the Year from the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association.

The Forbes India Impact: “With respect to the fund raise, being featured on the Forbes India list has been very helpful. Overall, our value has gone a notch up,” says Karanam.

Manoj Meena & Sibabrata Das
Co-founders, Atomberg Technologies

To innovate in the stagnant ceiling fan design space, Atomberg decided to create fans that run on brushless DC motors in 2012. Since last year, Atomberg’s revenue and sales have grown 3x, and they are on course to becoming a full-fledged consumer appliance brand. The company’s offline retail network has expanded to Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. Manoj Meena says the company has tied up with top distributors and retailers of electrical appliances across the country, Currently, Atomberg is present in more than 2.5 lakh Indian households. Apart from launching a revolutionary design of a ceiling fan called ‘Renesa’ with a compact motor, Atomberg has entered the pedestal and wall-mounted fan categories as well. “We are also in the process of moving into a new factory that will double the production capacity from 50,000 each month to 1 lakh per month,” he adds.          

The Forbes India Impact: “It has given us a lot of credibility. A lot more people have started recognising the value of our innovation,” says Meena.

Shining stars: The class of 2018Image: Amit Verma

Pawan Gupta, Nipun Goyal, Mudit Vijayvergiya
Co-founders, Curofy

Last year was busy for Curofy, as it got acquired in an all-cash deal by RoundGlass, a Seattle-based arm of Edifecs Inc. The Curofy networking mobile app, owned by 911 India Healthcare, connects over 3 lakh “verified” doctors who confer with their peers on medical cases every day. More than 3.5 lakh patient cases have now been discussed with over 20 lakh opinions, making it one of the biggest case-discussion platforms in the world. Curofy has also started conducting Continuing Medical Education events across India’s smaller cities to fuel the adoption of latest global practices between the country’s doctors.

The Forbes India Impact: “Being featured in Forbes India 30 Under 30 contributed to us closing some of the largest pharma clients. It is also helping to establish trust in our brand as we look to expand abroad,” says Nipun Goyal.

Savita Punia
Field hockey player

Punia spent an eventful 2018 being part of a team that made it to the quarterfinals of the hockey World Cup, and clinched the silver in the Asian Games in Jakarta, an upgrade from the bronze in 2014. The veteran goalkeeper had a standout World Cup match against England, in which she saved eight penalty corners. Punia was also conferred the Arjuna Award in 2018.

Shining stars: The class of 2018Image: Mexy Xavier

Heena Sidhu

Heena Sidhu bagged a gold medal in the women’s 25m pistol event at the Commonwealth Games in April 2018. She finished with a score of 38, with two of them being perfect fives. The 28-year-old also clinched a silver in the 10m air pistol event at the Games. She continued her winning streak at the Asian Games in August by bagging a bronze in the 10m air rifle final, despite languishing behind in the qualification stage. The shooter will be focussing on the 10m air pistol event ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

Ranjeet Pratap Singh, Sahradayi Modi, Sankaranarayanan Devarajan, Rahul Ranjan and Prashant Gupta
Co-founders, Pratilipi

Since being featured in the Forbes India 30 Under 30 list, more people have used Pratilipi’s vernacular storytelling platform than ever, and Ranjeet Pratap Singh expects 2019 to be even better. The company raised funding of $4.3 million in an investment round led by Omidyar Network. The February round saw existing and other new investors participate as well.

“We had over 325,000 lakh stories published and over 155 million stories read on Pratilipi in 2018,” says Singh. Over 51,000 stories were published and 25 million stories read in December alone, compared with 11,000 stories published and 5.5 million stories read in December 2017.

By the end of 2019, Pratilipi’s founders want to have 325,000 stories published and over 155 million stories read every month.

The Forbes India Impact: “It has helped us meet and learn from many interesting people, including people who themselves were a part of Forbes India 30 Under 30 in this or previous years,” says Singh.

Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain
Co-founders, Ather Energy

Last year, Ather Energy saw the commercial launch of its electric scooters, Ather 450 and 340. “It was the year when we saw our products go from plans and prototypes into the hands of customers,” says Co-founder and CEO Tarun Mehta.

During the year, the Bengaluru venture launched its charging infrastructure, AtherGrid, in May; and an experience centre, AtherSpace, in June. The response from the test rides and the feedback from the first few Ather owners has been a rewarding experience, says Mehta. This year will see Ather Energy entering more markets, beginning with Chennai.

The Forbes India impact: “Winning the Forbes India 30 Under 30 award was humbling and exciting. The list set the tone for the industry with several product-led startup founders making the list.”

(This story appears in the 15 February, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

Post Your Comment
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated