Hidden Gems, by the Forbes India definition, are not in-your-face. Reason: They are often not consumer facing; they are always unlisted and prefer patient capital where the investors understand their business and are not in a hurry to make a quick exit. Typically, the investors are private equity firms who value the promoters and have done adequate due diligence on the company, helping validate their presence in this selection.
Not only are these Hidden Gems leaders in their respective industries, but also in most cases, they have operational profits (PBDIT) unless they are new or are still investing in the business.
In the 2017 selection, eight such companies feature as Hidden Gems. These were chosen by the Forbes India
editorial team on the basis of the criteria listed above, from a long list suggested by industry experts, investors and analysts. (Venture Intelligence, an information company, provided support with the initial list.)
We were spoilt for choice because what emerged was a list that was diversified with plenty of innovative and disruptive ideas, and the final selection is representative of that.
For instance, Amagi Media Labs, which has pioneered the concept of geotagging advertisements in the television broadcasting industry. This has helped many small businesses afford prime-time slots and target the most important markets. Mayfield Fund-India discovered the company in 2013 and became its first institutional investor because it felt the idea was unique, scalable and also had the power to go global.
Also, consider Zippr, a company that makes it easier to find a destination using a smart address format—an eight-character alphanumerical code. It has to be entered on the app or on Google to get the full address and navigation support and it is completely portable. Though the company has a lower revenue (at ₹
30 crore) than a typical Hidden Gem, and is yet to make profits, it makes the cut because of its swift growth (it is just two years old) and relevance in a ‘Digital India’. The company has 2 million customers, 50 business clients and has given a digital door number to 17 million homes in Andhra Pradesh.
Then there is electronic surveillance specialist Securens, which has helped banks replace human guards with technology at their ATM kiosks. This idea, which has reduced costs for banks, is scalable and applicable to different industries.
Other companies in this year’s selection include Bengaluru-based whisky producer John Distilleries, online beauty destination Nykaa, AI startup Manthan Solutions and microloans provider India Shelter.
The diversity of these businesses is as interesting as the commonality in the big dreams of their promoters.
(This story appears in the 01 September, 2017 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)