On World Entrepreneurship Day, 5 self-made entrepreneurs at the peak of success

Indian entrepreneurs, with talent and a supportive government, are persistently innovating across diverse sectors. Here are the inspiring stories of five Indian entrepreneurs.

On World Entrepreneurship Day, 5 self-made entrepreneurs at the peak of success

Monday August 21, 2023,

6 min Read

While many parents in India want their children to become either doctors, lawyers, and engineers, entrepreneurship has emerged as a favourite among the GenZ and millennials who don't want to fit into the traditional 9-to-5 roles and want to do something of their own.

Over the last seven to eight years, the Indian startup ecosystem has captured considerable attention, not only due to the multitude of entrepreneurial endeavours but also owing to its robust network of angel investors

The Economic Survey Report of 2022–2023 reveals outstanding growth in the Indian startup landscape– with the number of startups soaring from 452 in 2016 to an impressive 98,119 as of April 30, 2023. To add to that, the Indian startup ecosystem currently ranks among the top five in the world, with approximately $20 billion in capital inflows.

Spanning across ecommerce, fintech, social media, education, healthtech, and even space exploration, Indian entrepreneurs with their talent with the help of a supportive government are persistently innovating across diverse sectors. Their vision and passion continue to fuel the transformaton.

Today, on World Entrepreneurship Day, we bring to you the journey of five entrepreneurs who fought all odds and reached the summit of success.

Ritesh Agarwal, Founder of OYO

Ritesh Agarwal

Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO of OYO, a global hospitality brand spanning more than 80 nations, provides travellers with economical lodgings. 

With no prior intention to become an entrepreneur, Agarwal’s journey began in 2013 by establishing OYO Rooms, a budget-friendly hotel venture, when he was only 19 years old. 

Agarwal had his own share of challenges. Being evicted from a rented accommodation in Delhi due to non-payment of rent, he had to spend the night on a staircase. After dropping out of his college and embarking on a journey across India to find reasonably priced and high-quality accommodations, he discovered a substantial gap within the budget-friendly hotel sector. This realisation prompted him to initiate a bed-and-breakfast enterprise named Oravel Stays, which was later renamed OYO Rooms.

Since then, OYO has experienced impressive growth, securing more than $3.3 billion in funding from notable investors such as Airbnb, SoftBank, and Sequoia Capital. 

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Richa Kar, Founder of Zivame

Richa Kar, Zivame

Richa Kar, Zivame

In June 2011, Richa Kar, along with her husband Kapil Karekar, founded Zivame. Today, the brand stands as the largest online lingerie retailer in India, a nation where women often experience discomfort while purchasing lingerie from stores managed primarily by male staff.

Following her graduation in engineering in 2002, Kar gained experience at software firms like i-Flex and Intergraph. She also held positions at the Indian retail chain Spencers before joining SAP as a consultant. It was during a consulting project with an international lingerie retailer that Richa recognised the pressing need for a specialised online lingerie store within India.

Her bold and inventive approach challenged the taboo of lingerie shopping in the country. 

Raked in online revenue of $168.7 million in 2022, Zivame transformed the lingerie industry by empowering women to embrace their bodies and find their ideal fits.

Deepinder Goyal, Founder of Zomato


Starting originally as ‘Foodiebay’ in Delhi and later expanding to Kolkata and Mumbai, Zomato was established by Deepinder Goyal in 2008. The initial concept was to create a website that digitally captured and displayed restaurant menus.

Witnessing the dining difficulties faced by his co-workers near their workplace, Goyal took the initiative of compiling and pinning restaurant menus on his office bulletin board. This concept was then actualised with his Bain & Co colleague, Pankaj Chaddah.

In 2008, they hired a CEO for their venture. After nearly 18 months, the duo opted to leave their full-time corporate jobs and work closely to enhance their creation. In no time, the platform amassed a listing of 1,200 restaurants in Delhi, and then there was no looking back.

With revenues reaching over Rs 7,000 crore (as of March 2023) and a market valuation of nearly $9.27 billion, Zomato’s gastronomic delight has extended to more than 22 countries, catering to an audience of over 70 million users each month. 

What makes Zomato stand out is its user-friendly mobile application which enables seamless food orders from a variety of eateries and hassle-free payment options.

Despite his parents urging him to abandon the venture and return to traditional employment, Deepinder was adamant in his pursuit. As of March 2023, his net worth is estimated at Rs 2,000 crore.

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder of Paytm

Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO, Paytm

Vijay Shekhar Sharma is Founder and CEO of Paytm, a fintech business that provides a variety of digital payment services like UPI, mobile wallets, QR codes, cards, bank accounts, loans, mutual funds, insurance, and more. He began Paytm as a mobile recharge platform in 2010 after experiencing difficulties with online bill payments.

Thereafter, he developed Paytm's product and service offerings to meet the requirements of millions of Indians with no access to conventional banking channels. With over 450 million customers and over 17 million businesses, Paytm has grown to become one of India's biggest digital payment platforms.

Hailing from a small town in Delhi, Sharma became the first person in his family to attain a technical education and seek employment abroad. His present estimated net worth stands at approximately $1.2 billion in 2022, as per Forbes.

Falguni Nayar, Founder of Nykaa

Falguni Nayar The Founder of Nykaa

Falguni Nayar, Founder, Nykaa

Falguni Nayar is Founder and CEO of Nykaa, a prominent online beauty retailer in India that sells more than 3,000 brands spanning cosmetics, haircare, skincare, wellness, and personal care.

Driven by the ambition to enable affordable access to premium beauty and wellness, Nayar founded Nykaa in 2012 when she was 50, leaving her prosperous career as a banker with Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Before founding Nykaa, Nayar had an illustrious career in the corporate world. Starting her career in 1985 at AF Ferguson & Co., Nayar moved on to Kotak Mahindra Capital Company, where she worked as Managing Director and Head of Investment Banking. Thereafter, she ventured into the ecommerce industry by founding Nykaa in 2012.

Presently, Nykaa boasts a clientele of 15 million and a valuation surpassing $4.55 billion. With over 70 million monthly users and 17 outlets countrywide, Nykaa has become a household name within India's beauty sector.

A self-made woman, Falguni Nayar is also among India's wealthiest female entrepreneurs, with a net worth of $2.7 billion, as per Forbes.

Edited by Kanishk Singh