India's Top 100 Digital Stars 2023

What's the 30 Under 30 Class of 2021 upto?

A quick look back at last year's under 30 listees and where the challenging year has landed them

Published: Feb 21, 2022 11:05:22 AM IST
Updated: Feb 25, 2022 11:14:10 AM IST

What's the 30 Under 30 Class of 2021 upto?Harshit Gupta, co-founder of Gramophone, saw revenues increase three-fold
Image: Akashdeep Verma For Forbes India

Breakout Stars

Harshit Gupta
Co-founder, Gramophone

Gramophone grew 3x in revenues, doubled its team, and closed a series B round of $10 million in October. It works with farmers, helping them with advice and information about crop cycles and solutions to other agricultural problems to make farming more efficient. Despite the challenges of the lockdowns, its post-harvest business, which it started only last year, has also seen good growth, claims Harshit Gupta.

Forbes India Impact: “Whenever my vendor partners, like manufacturing companies who supply us products, see our name in Forbes India, our credibility increases and they are more eager to partner with us. The same goes for investors and customers.”

Keerthi Reddy Kotta
Co-founder and COO, StaTwig
Over the past year, StaTwig forged partnerships with companies, including Tech Mahindra and GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo, among others, to track vaccine supply chains. VaccineLedger, the company’s signature offering, allows end-to-end tracing of vaccines from manufacturers to end customers, providing tracking ability to all stakeholders through blockchain, recording, and providing real-time tamper-proof data to improve transparency.

Forbes India Impact: “It opened a lot of doors for StaTwig. We grabbed a lot of interest from various pharmaceutical companies, government departments, venture capitalists and channel partners. Forbes India has put our startup on the roadmap for greater success.”

Mudit Dandwate and Gaurav Parchani
Co-founders, CEO and CTO, Dozee

Over the past year, Dozee has seen its team strength grow by four times, and has expanded its solutions to 25 cities. The company also raised $16 million, and intends to develop and launch new products in addition to partnering with over 1,000 hospitals across India to help them upgrade critical care infrastructure through remote patient monitoring.

Forbes India Impact: “Making it to the Forbes India 30 Under 30 is a great validation that we are moving in the right direction. It keeps us true to our purpose and motivates us to do more.”

Mukul Rustagi and Bhaswat Agarwal
Co-founders, Classplus

In the past year, Classplus enabled a digital identity to over 100,000 educators and content creators who are using apps powered by the platform to reach more than 25 million students across 3,000-plus cities around the world.

Forbes India Impact: “An honour like this reminds us that we are on the right track and inspires us to keep working towards our mission of empowering educators through technology with even more zeal,” say the co-founders.

Niharika Kapoor
APAC lead, Shorts Scaled Partnerships, YouTube Shorts

If power brings in responsibility, recognition doubles it. That’s the story of Niharika Kapoor. Late last year, opportunity knocked on her doors when she was asked to lead the newly launched YouTube Shorts team for APAC (Asia-Pacific), which is a big focus for YouTube globally. Kapoor embraced the new role and the challenge to nurture the Shorts community and build Superstars. “From being India’s youngest to the youngest lead in APAC, excited for 2022 and beyond,” she beams.

Forbes India Impact: “It strengthened the belief in my abilities to take on new challenges and expanded responsibilities.”

Priyanka Das Rajkakati
Co-founder and GNC engineer, The Exploration Company

In 2021, Priyanka Das Rajkakati won the Karman Fellow award for space, finished her PhD and co-founded The Exploration Company, a startup that aims to build a lunar space vehicle. She also continued her work as an artist, taking part in a few artist residencies and exhibitions, as well as supporting the Moon Gallery initiative which will be flying to the ISS (International Space Station) in a few months.

Forbes India Impact: “Being able to be productive in the midst of a global pandemic implies a lot of privilege. The Forbes India 30 under 30 provided me that privilege during a rather difficult year, helping me stay motivated and opening several doors for collaborations.”

Proven Performers

Aaquib Wani
Founder and creative director, Aaquib Wani Design
For AaquibWani, it was a year of diversifying into architectural and interior spaces with three experiential stores being constructed and designed from scratch. Apart from this, many unique branding projects which pushed the realm of graphics along with three Tedx talks, designing shoes for cricketer Rohit Sharma and designing the Real Kashmir FC jersey were some of the highlights of 2021.

Forbes India Impact: “Being featured in Forbes India is a dream come true. Being self-taught, the backing of something this big has given me more confidence and brought with it a kind of legitimacy to our practice which sits well with more clients.”

What's the 30 Under 30 Class of 2021 upto?Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha (right) and Niyati Mavinkurve believe in positive content
Image: Arpit Jain for Forbes India

Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha and Niyati Mavinkurve
Digital content creator

The duo hit a new milestone by reaching 2 million subscribers on YouTube last December. In 2021, they also released a YouTube video to fight blood cancer, inspiring 25,000 people to register as stem cell donors. They even managed to raise funds to rehabilitate the victims of the Uttarakhand floods. Recently they were featured in a book on digital creators titled Booming Digital Stars.

Forbes India Impact: “When we started our journey, people told us positive content has no scope, and nobody will care. That’s why having a stamp of recognition from Forbes India about our content and vision is so special. It has encouraged us to do bigger and better things,” says Rajadhyaksha.

Akash Sinha
CEO and co-founder, Cashfree Payment

The digital payments firm had a hectic year as it hired for leadership roles across engineering, product management, strategy and growth teams. In June 2021, it raised an undisclosed amount from the State Bank of India, valuing the firm at around $200 million. This is the fifth round of capital raising for the firm. It now leads the bulk payouts markets and caters to over 1 lakh merchants across industries. It has served over 120 million bank accounts.

Forbes India Impact: “I believe we are on the right path as this recognition from Forbes India is a validation of our efforts and the result of our hard work.”

Amandeep Panwar and Rishabh Choudhary
Co-founders, CEO and CTO, BharatRohan Airborne Innovations

Though the last two years have been challenging, they have entered two new geographies—Rajasthan and Gujarat—and have on-boarded more than 2,000 farmers. The startup has invested in improving its drone/UAV-based spectral imaging technology to offer alerts and forewarning to seed spice growers as well incentivise them for pesticide residue-free cultivation.

Forbes India Impact: “Being listed on Forbes India 30 under 30 has helped us build credibility and trust in the industry. Moreover, it has helped us get recognised by potential partners, investors and other stakeholders,” says Panwar.

Ashish Chanchlani
Digital content creator

He became the second Indian YouTuber to cross more than 27 million subscribers on his channel, Ashish Chanchlani Vines. In 2021, he completed seven years of content creation and has experimented with multiple formats of producing funny, relatable content, including a short film called Aakhri Safar. Chanchlani’s videos in 2021 had an increased focus on highlighting social messages. An avid Marvel fan, he also represented India at the premiere of Spiderman: No Way Home.

Forbes India Impact: “Being featured on the list is one of the biggest achievements of my life. It’s the most precious feather added to my cap. It has motivated me and my team to work on content that is not just entertaining but also has subtle social commentary.”

What's the 30 Under 30 Class of 2021 upto?Aurko Bhattacharjee, director, CXO Office, Oyo Hotels & Homes has moved to Europe
Image: Debarshi Sarkar For Forbes India

Aurko Bhattacharjee
Director, CXO Office, Oyo Hotels & Homes

Since featuring on the 30 Under 30 list, Aurko Bhattacharjee has moved from India to the UK to lead key supply growth initiatives for Oyo’s European vacation homes. He has also set up foundations for pilot projects targeting new revenue streams. Additionally, he has supported defining the organisation’s ESG matrix and medium- to long-term sustainability goals.

Forbes India Impact: “It’s a great recognition for the value I have been able to create so far and has reinforced a sense of enthusiasm to continue pushing boundaries. It’s helped me distinguish myself within my field and hence magnify reach and impact. At a personal level, it feels you can achieve anything.”

What's the 30 Under 30 Class of 2021 upto?Biraaj Dodiya’s works were showcased at
several prominent galleries
Image: Arpit Jain for Forbes India

Biraaj Dodiya

The last year was active and creatively charged for Biraaj Dodiya. She continued her painting and sculpture-based visual practice, and participated in group exhibitions with prominent Indian galleries—Experimenter, Kolkata and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, says Biraaj Dodiya. Her work was shown at several important art fairs around the world, in Art Dubai, Frieze New York and Art Basel, Switzerland.

Forbes India Impact: “Being included in the 30 Under 30 list opened up my work to new audiences, people who don’t necessarily come from the creative world. This has sparked new conversations, which is important for an artist,” she says.

Ishaan Preet Singh and Mikhil Raj
Co-founders, FrontRow

In 2021, FrontRow continued to add courses from experts in multiple categories, and raised more funding too. Started two years ago, the company raised $14 million in series A funding led by Eight Roads and GSV Ventures, the Bengaluru startup announced in September 2021. Lightspeed India and Elevation Capital joined in as well. Early investors include actress DeepikaPadukone’s family office.

Karan Torani
Founder and creative director, Torani India

The year 2021 was nothing short of a roller coaster ride for the label. The biggest leap was the move of the production unit to an area spread over 24,000 sqft, six times larger than the previous working space. The team strength increased from 120 to 200, and very senior job roles like business head, ecommerce head and production heads were added. However, these coincided with the second wave of Covid-19 and they had to close down for two months after the shift in April and restart in June.

Forbes India Impact: “Being featured in 30 under 30 empowers you in a social setting where people acknowledge your perseverance. But for me it has been a personal reminder to never give up… of a self-check on my own strength moving forward.”

What's the 30 Under 30 Class of 2021 upto?Actor Keerthy Suresh has an exciting lineup in 2022
Image: Harsha Vadlamani For Forbes India

Keerthy Suresh
She starred in four films in 2021 of which the Telugu comedy-drama Jathi Ratnalu became a blockbuster at the box office. The action film, Annaatthe, was a commercial success too. The Mahanati star has an exciting lineup for 2022, including Sarkaru Vaari Paata with superstar Mahesh Babu.

Maalavika Manoj AKA Mali
Singer, songwriter, composer

In 2021, Maalavika Manoj released her debut full-length album—Caution to the Wind—which she claims has got a lot of praise. She also performed in support of The Beatles and India documentary in Spain, and started a consultancy for young artistes looking to make a foray into the indie music industry.

Forbes India Impact: “Being on the list was a benchmark of validation and another reminder that I just need to keep at it, and that there is more to look forward to.”

Mohit Jain, Saurabh Singhal, Vaishali Gupta
Co-founders and head of brand marketing (Gupta), mCaffeine

The first dedicated caffeine skin care maker in India saw its sales ramp up in 2021 with the launch of 13 new product categories and opening up of new network channels. The online-first brand is now working on partnering with offline stores in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Gujarat, among others. The startup expects its offline sales to strengthen to around 30 percent of revenues over the next few years. While it did not do a fresh round of fund raising, it expects its FY22 gross revenues to be nearly ₹300 crore.

Forbes India Impact: “Recognition from Forbes India has been a big achievement and motivation for mCaffeine customers, team and partners. The brand has grown bigger and favourable among our partners and opened a new network,” says Gupta.

Nishita and Nikita Baliarsingh
Co-founders, CEO & COO, Nexus Power

The twins who use bio-mimicry to make biodegradable fast-charging batteries from crop residue have built multiple prototypes in the last year and are getting ready for market trials and testing that is due for 2022. Getting on the 30 Under 30 list helped them in receiving multiple grants and incentives from the central government and the government of Odisha for the technology and innovation. They’ve also applied for multiple patents and are in process for more such patents across India and the US.

Nitin Jayakrishnan
Founder & CEO, PandoCorp

In 2021, amid the Covid pandemic, PandoCorp added more customers, including Zydus Wellness. The two companies announced a deal in November where Zydus would use Pando’s Networked TMS platform to digitalise its supply chain and logistics operations. This would help Zydus reduce freight costs, get better visibility of shipments on a unified platform, make audits, reconciliation and payments easier, and deploy data analytics.

Neelam Jain and Nishant Agarwal
Co-founders, Periferry

Despite the Covid impact, Periferry, which works on making education and careers accessible to India’s transgender community, continued to see growth: A lot more organisations reached out, and it crossed 260 placements and started its first residential training centre in Bengaluru. There has been a steady year-on-year increase in revenues, and Periferry estimates an average of about 90 percent growth this year as well.

Forbes India Impact: “For a lot of our partners, it came across that we’re working with a brand that is on the right track,” says Jain.

Piyush Verma
Founder and CEO, Manush Labs

In 2021, Manush Labs concluded its first accelerator programme that saw participation from over 40 startup founders across 30 cities, with more than 100 investors. Piyush Verma received funding from philanthropist Desh Deshpande, and signed MoUs with educational institutions, including IIT-Bombay and the Indian School of Business.

Forbes India Impact: “This recognition has helped by giving me access to a larger audience, including students and budding entrepreneurs, to share my ideas, experiences and learnings.”

Ritviz Srivastava

Ritviz Srivastava continues to be one of the most-streamed independent artistes in India with the release of the album Baaraat in collaboration with the Indian electronic frontrunner Nucleya. The electronic-pop music producer and singer also released the singles ‘ThandiHawa’, ‘Pran’ and ‘Khamoshi’.

Forbes India Impact: “Being featured on the list validates all the work that I’ve put in for the last 10 years. The list is like a stepping stone for me… it’s just the beginning, there is so much more to do.”

Santanu Agarwal
Deputy CEO, Paisalo Digital

The company saw growth in its loan book and profitability in 2021 apart from expanding its reach across India. Paisalo’s loans and advances grew to ₹2,282 crore in the September-ended quarter from ₹2,046 crore a year earlier and profits rose to ₹380 crore from ₹369 crore in the same period. It acquired Punjab National Bank as an additional co-lending partner, besides the existing State Bank of India. The company expanded to 138 branches in 2021 from 125 branches a year earlier.

Forbes India Impact: “There was increased brand awareness, so it became easier to hire talent. We got analysts to track our company performance and there was increased interest from investors too.”

Satanik Roy
Co-founder and chief product officer, hyperXchange

In the last one year, hyperXchange has transformed from an inventory model to an asset-light marketplace model. Its ARR (annual recurring revenue) grew from $8 million in 2021 to $50 million in 2022. The company has scaled its distribution online—with leading marketplaces and its own website and mobile application—and offline, with top retail chains and with its own franchise network.

Forbes India Impact: “This recognition feels great, but it just makes me hungrier to work harder and push our company to be the place I know it can be,” says Roy.

Sidharth Oberoi
Founder, LetsShave

The direct-to-consumer grooming startup took three giant leaps last year. First, the online-first brand made its offline debut and is now available across retail stores in Delhi-NCR, Haryana and Punjab. Second, it claims to have doubled its revenues in 2021. And it entered new categories such as trimmers, which has seen a brisk uptick.

Forbes India Impact: “30 Under 30 is a booster dose for the credibility of the brand and respect for the entrepreneur.”

Shefali Vijaywargiya
Brand manager, Amul Kool

Shefali Vijaywargiya discovered ‘founder’s mentality’. “I realised the idea that entrepreneurship is not just about starting up… it’s about a spirit which can be demonstrated even as a professional,” says the 29-year-old. Last year, Vijaywargiya added to her role in the organisation. From diversifying into aerated beverage category with the launch of Seltzer range under the Amul Kool umbrella to associating as official beverage partner with sporting events, including the Indian Premier League, it was an eventful year for her.

Forbes India Impact: “The Forbes India recognition became a part of my identity.”

What's the 30 Under 30 Class of 2021 upto?Cricketer Shubman Gill has had a mixed year
Image: Mexy Xavier; Jacket: Emporio Armani All-Over Logo Bomber Jacket

Shubman Gill

For the young batter, 2021 was a year of injuries—one forcing him to return from the series in England and another keeping him out of the year-ending away series against South Africa. In between, he’s shown occasional flashes of brilliance with two Test 50s and a few nearly-theres, even though his overall performance would be somewhat underwhelming compared to his head-turning Test debut during India’s historic 2020-21 series win against Australia. But, while that century still eludes Gill, given his class and temperament, it could only be a matter of time.

Triptii Dimri

She became one of the first actors to join filmmaker Karan Johar’s new venture, Dharma Cornerstone Agency, which promotes budding talent. Her upcoming projects include the Netflix film Qala alongside Babil I Khan and Swastika Mukherjee, and Animal, directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga and starring Ranbir Kapoor.

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