The Indian startup scene is witnessing a boom, with the number of entrepreneurs in India growing by the day.
Gone are the days when people shied away from quitting their jobs to start their own ventures. And although all entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they are established or new, have an equal in the Indian startup scene, here are 11 tech entrepreneurs that could be considered as largely responsible for these winds of change.
Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (Flipkart)
Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal are probably the two most important people in the Indian e-commerce industry today. Interestingly, they both completed their studies together at OP Jindal Modern School, Hisar, and then went on study Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Delhi. Post that, Sachin Bansal started working at Techspan while Binny Bansal worked at Sarnoff Corporation. Before starting Flipkart in 2007, they both worked for Amazon for a while too. Like Amazon, Flipkart (valued today at US$17 billion) too started as a bookstore. Later, more product categories were added to the store. In September 2015, both its founders were ranked 86 th on the Forbes India list with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Flipkart has made a number of acquisitions, including Myntra, WeRead, Chakpak.com and Mime360.
Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal (Snapdeal)
Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal were both students of Delhi Public School before Rohit Bansal went to IIT Delhi and Kunal Bahl went to University of Pennsylvania.
Later, Kunal went to Wharton School and Kellogg School of Management before starting working with Microsoft. Prior to Snapdeal’s inception in 2010, the two started various other businesses, but nothing clicked as much as their e-commerce venture. Today, Snapdeal is among the largest online marketplaces in India, and has made quite a few acquisitions, including Exclusively.in, and Freecharge.
Bhavish Aggarwal (Ola)
Born in Ludhiana, Bhavish Aggarwal received his Computer Science and Engineering degree from IIT Bombay, and started his career with Microsoft Research. He stayed there for a good two years before quitting in 2010.
He then teamed up with Ankit Bhati and started his own venture – Ola Cabs, which went ahead to become India’s answer to Uber. As of September 2015, Ola is valued at $5 billion and the company has also made acquisitions like TaxiforSure and Geotagg.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Paytm)
The founder of Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, completed his education at Delhi College of Engineering with great difficulty because he couldn’t speak English.
However, that didn’t stop him from creating a website indiasite.net in 1997, which was sold two years later for $1 million. In 2005, Sharma started One97 communications (Paytm’s parent company), which offered news, cricket scores, ringtones, jokes and exam results.
Later in 2010, he started Paytm, an online recharge, bill payment and e-commerce website. Recently, the company has also added bus tickets and movie tickets booking to its list of services. Vijay Shekhar Sharma also took a stand against Facebook’s Free Basics in December 2015, saying that it was against net neutrality.
Pranay Chulet (Quikr)
The person behind one of India’s largest online classified portals, Pranay Chulet studied at Kendriya Vidyalaya in Rajasthan.
He later went to IIT, Delhi and then to IIM, Calcutta to complete his higher education. Post that, the Quikr co-founder started working at Procter & Gamble and then worked at Mitchell Madison Group, Walker Digital, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Booz Allen Hamilton. It was in 2007 that Chulet started his first venture – Excellere. In 2008, he came together with Jiby Thomas to start Kijiji India, known today as Quikr.
Deepinder Goyal (Zomato)
Whether it’s slashing a large chunk of his employee force, writing open letters to his staff or taking a stand against HSBC, Zomato co-founder Deepinder Goyal knows how to stay in the limelight. The story behind Zomato is an interesting one. Back when Deepinder was at Bain & Co. along with his co-worker Pankaj Chaddah, he decided to scan restaurant menus and upload them on an intranet website exclusively for Bain employees.
In 2008, the website named FoodieBay, went public and quickly expanded to other cities. But it was only in 2010 that it came to be known as Zomato. After their venture started gaining popularity, the founders quit their jobs to devote their entire time to Zomato. Today, Zomato is available in 23 countries and has acquired a number of companies like Urbanspoon and Lunchtime.
Kavin Bharti Mittal (Hike)
Kavin Bharti Mittal is the founder and CEO of instant messaging app Hike, and also the son of business tycoon Bharti Mittal. Before he started his venture, he studied Electronics and Electrical Engineering at University of York and then went to Imperial College London to study further. Hike Messenger was started in 2012 and in just a few months, raised $7 million from Bharti SoftBank.
Hike Messenger competes with the likes of WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber and Telegram. The app is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Symbian operating systems.
Kunal Shah (FreeCharge)
Arguably the masses’ favourite way to recharge their pre-paid phones, Freecharge, was founded by Kunal Shah in 2010. Prior to starting Freecharge, Kunal Shah did his graduation at Wilson College in Mumbai, and then briefly pursued an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies before dropping out.
His idea behind Freecharge was simple. He wanted to launch a website that offered coupons and rebates to customers in return of each top up. FreeCharge became a super hit, and was recently acquired by Snapdeal for about $400 million.
Rahul Yadav (Housing.com)
Chances are, you have already heard about him. Rahul Yadav bags the prize for being the most popular and controversial face of the Indian startup scene. There is hardly anyone else about whom so much has been written. If we trace back his past, Rahul is an IIT-Bombay drop-out who started his venture with 11 other college mates in 2012. The real estate classified portal did really well and went on to raise $100 million in funding.
Rahul Yadav also made it to Forbes India list of 30 Under 30 young entrepreneurs for his work at Housing. However, things didn’t remain good for Rahul when he spent a large amount of money on marketing and also made rather nasty remarks about some key people at Housing. Following this, he resigned, withdrew his resignation, and then distributed all his shares among his employees. But it was the news of him getting kicked out of his own venture that made him popular. He is currently working on his next venture, backed by Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Micromax’s Rahul Sharma and Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
This article was originally published in Times Of India