Ever since the Narendra Modi government was sworn in at the Centre, there’s been intense coverage and discussion around the efforts to make India a better place to do business in. Cutting the red tape, making clearances across central and state levels easier, taking things online—these have been the focus areas for the government to ensure businesses have it easier when it comes to operating in the country. The target: A spot in the top 50 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, where India currently languishes at a low 142nd out of 189 countries.
But shift the spotlight a little away from this, and one finds that despite the bureaucratic maze Indian businesses—large and small—have to contend with, there is a surge of entrepreneurial energy which is breaking through these shackles and walking doggedly on the road to success. In the process, these entrepreneurs have created successful businesses which are on the cusp of becoming big-time success stories. As is their wont, a number of savvy investors—angel investors, venture capitalists and private equity firms—have spotted these stories and have invested in them, positioning themselves for smart returns at a later stage when they exit either by way of strategic sales or public offers.
It is these smart businesses which we at Forbes India like to call Hidden Gems. These are companies where the entrepreneurs have spotted a clear need gap and a large addressable market and aimed to get in and build successful ventures. In this year’s Hidden Gems special issue, our team of writers, helped by Venture Intelligence, picks up 13 interesting businesses—ranging from bus operator Prasanna Purple to lifestyle brand Hidesign, jewellery maker Kalyan Jewellers to coaching firm Resonance Eduventures and pharma venture Laurus Labs. The common thread in all these businesses is the risk-taking ability of the entrepreneurs who, despite the odds, stuck to their strategies and built formidable businesses which are the toast of investors. Indeed, entrepreneurs and their teams are what most smart investors call the souls of every good business. Many investors choose to back businesses simply because they believe in the idea and the vision of the entrepreneur. As these 13 hidden gems show, these entrepreneurs have been worthy of the trust the investors have reposed in them.
The other highlight of this issue is the Forbes listing of The World’s 100 Most Innovative Companies. Three Indian companies—Hindustan Unilever, Tata Consultancy Services and Sun Pharma—make the cut in this definitive listing, which sees Elon Musk’s Tesla at number one. Read on also for a fascinating look inside Tesla Motors, the most innovative company in the world.