Startups for real India

A number of ventures are seeking to address India's real needs and aiming to be profitable

Sourav Majumdar
Published: Jun 24, 2016 08:23:37 AM IST
Updated: Oct 3, 2016 05:35:11 PM IST

The conversation around startups in India has revolved mostly around valuations and how ventures which have emerged over the past few years have scaled up or failed to do so. Central to these discussions has been the issue of funding and valuations and how top-flight investors across the globe are swooping in on Indian startups and, in effect, pushing up the numbers. However, of late, this discussion has veered towards failure: How many ventures which showed promise are struggling to scale with funds drying up and investors asking for a path to profitability and returns.

This is all very well. But are startups, which can be key engines for India’s growth, really addressing the country’s problems? Are they looking beyond the urban middle-class, the lure of valuations, and getting their hands dirty by venturing into the unglamorous world of the real India? For Forbes India’s maiden Startups Special, we chose to answer these questions as our central theme. Amidst the blur of entrepreneurial ambition, are startups looking at sectors like education, health care, skilling and agriculture and trying to build ventures around them? More important, can such ventures be scalable and profitable?

The results are broadly encouraging. Not only are many entrepreneurs seeking to address real needs, they are working towards making such ventures profitable as well. As Editor (Technology) Harichandan Arakali writes, “These ventures are laying the groundwork for tapping these needs as business opportunities.” They are, essentially, seeking to marry problem-solving with profits. A clutch of top-notch investors, accelerators and entrepreneurs also debate the need for startups to look beyond the urban middle-class in the first Forbes India Startup Square discussion forum (page 36 of the print edition). Senior Assistant Editor Debojyoti Ghosh, who helmed this issue, brings you the story of how health care startup Practo has been able to solve a real problem and create an exciting business venture by connecting doctors and patients.

This issue also has two other power-packed packages. The Forbes listing of America’s Richest Self-Made Women is a lineup of 60 women who have shattered ceilings and, in the process, created wealth and blazed a trail for others to follow. We also bring you the Global 2000, the definitive lineup of the world’s biggest companies. Not surprisingly, three out of the top five biggest global firms are Chinese—ICBC, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China. Japan comes into the top 10 with Toyota. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 741 companies this year, up from last year’s 726. The Global 2000 firms account for $35.1 trillion in revenues and $2.4 trillion in profits. That’s serious might indeed.

Sourav Majumdar
Editor, Forbes India
Twitter id:@TheSouravM

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(This story appears in the 08 July, 2016 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from To visit our Archives, click here.)

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