Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 - A report card

How has the last year panned out for the members of the 2015 30 Under 30 List? Happily, exceptionally well in some cases. Then there are others who are on the cusp of achieving potential while a few have changed tracks and moved on to other ventures. The disappointments are few and far between, as shown by this report card

Published: Feb 18, 2016 06:35:28 AM IST
Updated: Feb 18, 2016 02:20:47 PM IST


30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card
Sahil Barua
Co-founder, Delhivery
The Gurgaon-based ecommerce fulfillment company Delhivery raised $85 million of funding in a round led by Tiger Global Management in May last year. Its existing investors, including Multiples Alternate Asset Management, Nexus Venture Partners and Times Internet Ltd, also participated in this round. The company also made a few strategic investments. In July, it invested an undisclosed amount in the on-demand delivery startup, Parcelled. In October, Delhivery, along with startup incubator Tracxn Labs, added another $5 million to this investment. In the same month, Barua’s company, along with Sands Capital Ventures and Accel Partners, invested $7 million in hyperlocal delivery startup Opinio.

The Forbes India Impact: “Being featured in the 2015 Forbes India 30 Under 30 List helped us bring the enablement side of ecommerce into the mainstream. It has created greater visibility for the industry and for us specifically,” says Barua. “New clients have called us after seeing the coverage; a lot of people have referred to the article when joining us.”

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card
Pranshu Patni
Co-founder, CultureAlley
Language-learning platform CultureAlley had an impressive 2015. By the end of the year, Hello English, an education app, saw its user base grow exponentially to close to 10 million users, from a mere 500,000 in February 2015. It also became the leading education app in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, says Patni. The Kae Capital-backed firm is now featured as a top developer on Google Play, a feat that only 15 companies in India can boast of. In March, the Jaipur-based CultureAlley raised $6.15 million from Tiger Global and other investors. “We were also hosted by the President of India for a discussion on ‘Education and Innovation’ for the future of the country,” says Patni.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Chaitanya Tamhane

Accolades poured in from everywhere for Tamhane in 2015 after his debut film, Court, released. Greater glory followed when the courtroom drama won the National Award for best feature film. But the icing on the cake for 28-year-old Tamhane was when Court was chosen as India’s official entry to the Oscars in the best foreign language film category. The multilingual film eventually failed to make it to the shortlist at the Academy Awards, but Tamhane’s stock continues to soar with the film continuing to garner rich praise across the globe.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Health care
Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal

Founders, Practo Technologies
In Shashank ND’s own words, “We grew by leaps” in 2015. The health care startup raised $30 million in February 2015, which enabled it to expand services within India and other emerging markets. Within a few months, it raised another $90 million. “This is testimony to the fact that we are on the right track and more companies and people believe in our vision of helping mankind live healthier, longer, across the globe,” Shashank says. Practo is the world’s largest appointment booking platform with 40 million appointments managed every year, connecting billions of patients to over 200,000 health care practitioners, 10,000 hospitals, over 8,000 diagnostic centres and 4,000 fitness and wellness centres across 50-plus cities and 15 countries.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card
Social Media, mobile tech & Communication
Sameer Pitalwalla

CEO and co-founder, Culture Machine
“2015 has been an incredible year for Culture Machine both in terms of growth and opportunities. Not only have we attained the number one multi-channel network with over a billion watch minutes, we have 400 million monthly views and over 700 channels,” Pitalwalla says. Culture Machine will be organising South Asia’s first ever digital awards, the Streamys, which, says Pitalwalla, will bring the biggest names in YouTube and online video together for the first time.

The Forbes India Impact: “Getting appreciation from Forbes India and being featured in its the 2015 Forbes India 30 Under 30 List gave a sense of great achievement to a startup like ours. It got Culture Machine the recognition within the desired audience and highlighted our media and technology interplay,” says Pitalawalla.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

The Others
Art & Culture
Kartik Sood

“The year (2015) has been great. I did a residency in Basel, Switzerland, after being named the Emerging Artist of 2013 by the Foundation for Swiss Arts Council,” says Sood. “I also went on an art studio collaborative trip to Paris and Italy. I have been working on several projects to be showcased in 2016, including a solo exhibition—called In Search of a Dream and Other Stories—at Latitude 28 gallery for contemporary art in Delhi on January 30.”

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Mohini Dey
Bass Guitarist

Dey says 2015 has been “crazy busy” for her. She has been doing more than 10 shows every month. “A few memorable ones are of course the constant gigging with AR Rahman. At present, I am part of his Tamil Nadu tour,” Dey says. “The other very special collaboration saw me playing in Steve Vai’s upcoming album. My own album is now in the mixing stage and will be out soon.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Jim Sarbh
Theatre Actor-Director

“The year has been a mix of a lot of things, with the high point being a nice juicy role in Neerja (releases February 19), the film directed by Ram Madhvani, starring Sonam Kapoor. I also acted in Dar Gai’s film 3 1/2 Takes (working title), due for release in May 2016. My debut feature film Ajeeb Aashiq directed by Natasha Mendonca premieres at The Rotterdam International Film Festival in February 2016. I will also be acting in Konkona Sen Sharma’s debut film A Death in the Ganj,” says Sarbh. “On stage, I played Born in Kalki Koechlin’s The Living Room, and Julio in Rajat Kapoor’s What Is Done Is Done, his newest clown-Shakespeare based on Macbeth; I also acted in Jean Anouilh’s Legend of Lovers, directed by Alyque Padamsee.” Besides acting, Sarbh wrote a play with Navjot Kaur called Everything She Needs, Amrita et Boris, which premiers in France in January, and finished translating The Maids [by French dramatist Jean Genet] into Hindi, along with Priyanka Bose and Vaibhav Dixit.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Dhairya Dand
Designer and researcher

Over the last year, Dand’s efforts have become bolder. A summary of the innovations that Dand is working on, which he shared with Forbes India, include experiments in reconfiguring exfoliated human fingernails as raw material for 3D printing; electronic circuits in the form of skin tattoos that have sensors to read biosignals; a painting whose ink is electro-conductive, which can sense human touch and respond by producing musical notes; and an attempt to make an actual spider weave a web using 3D patterns exported from a software to the creature.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Mehul Agrawal

Co-founder, FabFurnish
Agrawal, who quit FabFurnish in July 2015, is now starting another company of his own. “Building a rockstar team for the next big idea!” says his LinkedIn profile.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card


Shraddha Kapoor

Kapoor continued her golden run at the box office with her solo release in 2015, ABCD 2, entering the Rs 100 crore-club. Her performance in the movie earned her appreciation not only for her acting skills but also her dance moves. In the pipeline: Rock On!! 2, Baaghi: A Rebel For Love and Half Girlfriend. Her passion for singing will see her lend her voice to a few songs in Rock On!! 2 in 2016.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Aditi Mittal
Standup comedian
Mittal says 2015 was the best year for her. “I experimented with music, did comedy in Hindi for the first time, learnt to face failure and be independent,” she says. “I have released two comedy songs—‘Satth rupiye di chai and ‘Facebook pe mummy’—and did shows in 14 cities in India in 15 days. I also went to London and performed for the BBC. Currently, I am working on a script which will go for shoot by January-end. I also want to do a six-song album for this character I do called Dolly Khurana.”

The Forbes India Impact: “I am in the business of comedy, so it is ironically hilarious when a serious magazine like Forbes India recognises your good work,” Mittal says. “My interaction with Forbes India has been wonderful. My dad has that one emotional tear of pride every time he reads the article.”

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card
Ruchika Sachdeva

Founder and creative director, Bodice
Sachdeva’s brand Bodice has been selected to exhibit at the International Fashion Showcase 2016 in February. This is an annual initiative organised by the British Council and British Fashion Council during London Fashion Week. “Last year was when we focussed on expanding our retail network; Bodice is now available in around 20 stores across India,” Sachdeva says. “In 2016, we would be focusing on our own online store and working on our digital presence.”

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Food & Hospitality
Rahul Dua
“In the past year, my first venture Café Lota has grown from being just an experiment with home-style regional Indian food to the city’s favourite lunch spot. While the café and its concept have achieved commercial acceptance, we have ensured that we are constantly challenging ourselves with our ever-changing menu,” says Dua. His second venture Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu was successfully launched last year along with food writer and restaurant manager Kainaz Contractor. “We won the Top Chef Award for Best Regional Restaurant in Delhi NCR in August 2015. I am also set to open the first Rustom’s Café and Bakery in January 2016 at the Khoj International Artists Association.”

The Forbes India Impact: “Being part of the 2015 Forbes India 30 Under 30 list was hugely instrumental in strengthening my belief about pushing regional Indian food and 2016 will be no different,” says Dua.  

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Rahul Mehra
Co-founder and partner, Gateway Brewing Company
“The craft beer momentum is finally catching on and the Gateway Brewing Company is at the forefront, riding this wave. In the past year, we’ve tripled our market presence and volumes,” says Mehra. “We have queries from all over the country and will soon start distribution in other cities.”

The Forbes India Impact: “Being part of the 2015 Forbes India 30 Under 30 list has brought us credibility and added an edge to our brand,” Mehra says.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Health care
Karthik Naralasetty

Founder, Socialblood
Socialblood, an app to connect blood donors with those who require it, has launched operations in 18 countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Zambia, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Niger and Mongolia. The application has witnessed an 85 percent increase in monthly visitors, a 59 percent rise in requests for blood and a 65 percent drop in donor response time compared to last year. The company has also hired a mobile team in Myanmar and has plans of going ‘app only’ in the first quarter of 2016.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card
Law, Policy & Politics
Lubhyathi Rangarajan
and Shreya Rastogi

Legal Activists
Rangarajan and Rastogi, who work for the rechristened Centre on the Death Penalty, managed to get a significant order in the case of Shabnam versus the Union of India. The Supreme Court laid down rules for due process to be followed in case a prisoner on death row was executed. Notice has to be issued to the prisoner, and a representation has to be made to the sessions court where a lawyer must be present. However, a few months later, that process was not followed in the case of Yakub Memon, who was executed for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts. The Centre is now working on a project to study the mental health of inmates on death row as well as preparing to release a statistical report on the death penalty in India.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Isha Khandelwal, Parijata Bhardwaj and Guneet Kaur
The Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group has had an eventful year. Two members, Parijata Bhardwaj and Guneet Kaur, left while Isha Khandelwal continues to fight for the rights of the local population. Khandelwal says their workload in the last year has gone up manifold. Their main test came when the group took up the case of Santosh Yadav, a journalist who chronicled excesses by the security forces in Chhattisgarh. In a curious incident, the Bastar Bar Association barred them from practicing. Judges refused to allow them to stand in court and the group had to fight back to get this overturned.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card
NGOs & Social Entrepreneurship
Abhishek Choudhary and Saransh Vaswani

Founders, Saajha
Choudhary and Vaswani’s Delhi-based non-profit educational startup Saajha made rapid moves in 2015, operating directly in 85 schools (58 in the previous year) and strengthening operations in 1,200 out of Delhi’s 1,800-odd government primary schools. Saajha has also partnered with the Delhi state government to ensure that one local MLA and a social worker formed part of school management committees (SMC) in each school. It has tied up with Bengaluru-based IT outsourcing firm Mindtree to create a mobile app for SMCs, which documents meetings and attendance of teachers. In 2016-17, Saajha plans to expand into Karnataka, in alliance with Deshpande Foundation, an NGO which was founded by Gururaj Deshpande.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Alok Kumar
Co-founder, Prayas Innovation; founder, Jigsaw Design
Designer-turned-entrepreneur Alok Kumar, who had co-founded Prayas Innovation with Manish Mathur in 2014, quit his company last year to set up another firm Jigsaw Design in Pune. A delay in getting large orders, particularly from some state governments, forced Kumar to look beyond Prayas. He is now developing the prototype for a women’s safety product, which was earlier to be launched under the Prayas fold.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Prukalpa Sankar & Varun Banka,
co-founders, SocialCops
In 2015, Delhi-based data technology startup SocialCops strengthened its data gathering spectrum. The venture went international last year, partnering with German chemical giant BASF to work in Zambia and with Next Billion (a William Davidson initiative, University of Michigan) to enable social enterprises with data in Indonesia. In all, it worked with over 150 partners across 18 countries, including organisations like Unicef, Tata Trusts and companies like HUL for specific projects.  

SocialCops has built up its data platform. Besides collecting primary data, it accesses a repository of secondary data, analyses all data aggregated and visualises it through customised dashboards. Last year, it aided in disaster relief management during the Nepal earthquake and Chennai floods by lending its data platform to Goonj, Bhumi and Twitter.

Staff strength has now increased to 28 from 12 in 2014 and co-founder Prukalpa Sankar says 2016 will see more scaling up in volumes, with an aim to impact one billion people.

Kidambi Srikanth
Badminton player
“I won two major titles early in 2015, and reached my career-best ranking (of World No 3),” Srikanth says. There were some disappointments as well with a flurry of early exits from tournaments. Srikanth ended the year ranked 9th, though he retained his spot as the top-ranked men’s singles player in India. “It is highly competitive at the top, and I have had some ups and downs but qualifying for the Super Series finals was a good experience.”

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Kumar, whose swing bowling made him a valuable asset to the Indian team, was forced to stay away from the Test squad for all of 2015, barring a solitary appearance at Sydney in January 2015, owing to injuries and a dramatic dip in form. Although he was a part of the ODI squad for 13 matches, he will be best remembered for the dubious distinction of conceding 106 runs in a single one-day international against South Africa in Mumbai. An injury to teammate Mohammad Shami saw Kumar make a comeback to the national squad for the tour to Australia in 2016, and though it may be premature to write him off, 2015 clearly wasn’t his year.

30 Under 30: The class of 2015 -  A report card

Samay Kohli and Akash Gupta
CEO and Co-Founders, Grey Orange
“The company is experiencing a phenomenal pull from customers worldwide, having tripled our customer base,” says Kohli. “We are now turning to technology to improve customers’ supply chain efficiency and helping them optimise their operations. We raised a Series-B round of funding of Rs 200 crore, while our overall business grew over five times.” Grey Orange also set up base in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore and more than doubled its employee strength. Besides, the company also set up a state-of-the-art research and development campus in Gurgaon last year.

Compiled And Edited By: Aveek Datta
Reporting By: Angad Singh Thakur, Benu Joshi Routh, Debojyoti Ghosh, Deepti Chaudhary, Jasodhara Banerjee, Kathakali Chanda, Kunal Purandare, Salil Panchal, Samar Srivastava, Shutapa Paul, Shruti Venkatesh

(This story appears in the 19 February, 2016 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)