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Thinking of starting up? Read these top inspiring stories of MSMEs here

posted on 2nd January 2019
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In 2018, the Indian MSME ecosystem saw the birth of thousands of new enterprises and entrepreneurs who were going all in to succeed. As the Centre and States slowly came together with other stakeholders in the ecosystem, small-to-medium businesses faced numerous challenges as they tried to stay relevant. Access to finance, infrastructure, and skilled labour, digitisation, GST and demonetisation are some of the hurdles that we saw this year.

Here are 2018's most amazing tales of MSME entrepreneurs who battled the odds to overcome these challenges. Their success is a testament to the sheer hard work, creativity, luck, and passion they infused into their businesses.

Healthy can be tasty, says this entrepreneur as he blends Ayurveda with modern science in his products

Ankur Goyal

Ankur Goyal

Ayurveda vs modern science is an eternal debate. Adopting the best of both worlds, Ankur Goyal, a Stanford graduate and Bengaluru-based entrepreneur, blends Ayurveda and modern science to manufacture ‘Bioactive lifestyle beverages’ for women. Goyal’s brainchild is Merhaki Foods and Nutrition, and through the brand ‘&ME’, the company targets solving lifestyle challenges and discomforts associated with menstruation, beauty, fat metabolism, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and more, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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This Sahnewal entrepreneur shows what happens when ‘dil mein ho josh’

Darshan Singh Panesar

Darshan Singh Panesar

wWhat blew my mind completely was meeting Darshan Singh Panesar and listening to his story. “He manufactures tractors,” our contact in Ludhiana had told us when he was sharing names of SMEs we should meet. There was some talk about how he was struggling to manage this capital-intensive manufacturing business. After all, he was up against biggies like Mahindra, Eicher, Escorts, and Sonalikas of India, writes Dipti Nair.

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This craft studio is working to preserve Rajasthan’s ancient fabric printing technique

Alka Sharma

Alka Sharma

Dabu is an ancient mud resist block-printing technique used on fabrics. Originally from Rajasthan, the Dabu process is famous for producing cloth of exquisite craftsmanship and design. A highly labour-intensive process, the technique would have died out if not for the efforts of a few individuals who were keen to revive and sustain it. Among the revivalists is 41-year-old Alka Sharma who launched Aavaran to preserve Dabu printing as well as carry forward the tradition of indigo dyeing practiced in Akola near Udaipur, Rajasthan, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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From selling gas stoves to manufacturing them, Haryana-based Eehan is seeing success

Prince Arora

Prince Arora

After completing his MBA, 31-year-old Prince Arora from Kurukshetra, Haryana was left with two options - he had to either start his own business or pursue a job to help an existing business grow and develop. Arora says he chose to start his own business. “An MBA makes you astute. You become more observant,” he says. Arora started selling gas stoves in 2012 and continued the business for four years. writes Mohit Sabharwal.

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Ditching their corporate jobs, this entrepreneur couple is making the world’s first chikoo-based alcoholic beverages

Nagesh Pai and Priyanka Save

Nagesh Pai and Priyanka Save

At present, Indian consumers are moving beyond red wine and are exploring other types, such as white and sparkling wine, as well as cider-style alcoholic beverages (alco-bev). Going a step further, entrepreneur couple Priyanka Save and Nagesh Pai are set to offer consumers a whole new experience with their brand ‘Fruzzante’, the world’s first and only producer of cider-style alco-bev made from chikoo (sapodilla), writes Rishabh Mansur.

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From an unhappy employee to setting up her own venture, this entrepreneur found sweet success in ice cream business

Mamata Hegde and her husband

Mamata Hegde and her husband

Unhappy with her low-paying job, 35-year old Mamata Hegde decided to quit her teaching profession. Mamata, who hails from Karnataka, says she had spent nearly two-and-a-half years teaching at an NGO. “I was paid a meagre salary of Rs 6,000 per month. I was underpaid and I always knew that I could do better.” Apart from lesser pay, another hurdle for her to get into a high-paying job was that she was proficient only in the Kannada language, writes Mohit Sabharwal.

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From earning Rs 250 a month to launching a fashion production house, read how Bengaluru boy Sid Naidu found success

Sid Naidu

Sid Naidu

In 2007, eleven-year-old Sid Naidu from Bengaluru lost his father. To support his family, he started distributing newspapers before going to school. He earned Rs 250 per month. However, the financial situation at home remained grim. Naidu’s dream of entering the fashion industry and becoming a model seemed even more far-fetched at this point. He wasn't sure if he would go to college, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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This Kanpur-based entrepreneur is going global with her leather brand

Prerna Verma

Prerna Verma

With an aim to provide superior quality leather products in India and across the world at economical rates, Creative India was founded in the year 2007 by Prerna Verma in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The company manufactures leather cords, cotton cords, leather bags and other handmade leather goods. Prerna (41), was born into a middle-class family and lost her father very early. Her mother single-handedly brought her up along with her younger brother, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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From living in a mud hut to launching a nano-tech firm, read how Sandip Patil found success

Sandip Patil

Sandip Patil

Nanofibers have several practical applications in today’s world such as cancer diagnosis, optical sensors, air filtration and many more. However, it has been a challenge in India to create a cost-effective solution for nanofiber research and fabrication due to quality issues and workforce problems. Hailing from Pimpri, a village tucked away in Shindhkheda district of Maharashtra, 32-year-old Sandip Patil and his company E-Spin Nanotech have cracked the problem, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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Jaipur-based entrepreneur braves challenges to take her kids wear company global

Snigdha Bihan

Snigdha Bihan

The ‘Pink city of India’ Jaipur has been famous for its historical monuments, vibrant Rajasthani culture, architecture, cuisine and the world famous arts and crafts. Thirty-two-year-old fashion designer and stylist Snigdha Bihan had always been fascinated by her region’s traditional handwork. Her mother’s involvement in the city’s traditional arts, crafts, and embroidery inspired her to start her own business, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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This Mathura-based entrepreneur prints 18 million books a year for poor students

Gaurav Agrawal

Gaurav Agrawal

Hindu texts have always been in great demand in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, believed to be the birthplace of Hindu deity Krishna. Over time, these texts have been replaced by digital media and TV serials, says Gaurav Agrawal, an entrepreneur from Mathura. He says, “The religious texts’ segment almost vanished due to television and digital media.” Gaurav’s father and grandfather have both been in the business of printing Hindu texts, and the torch was later passed on to Gaurav, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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From Rs 10 lakh to Rs 3Cr, Eco Mitram Solutions is shining bright with its clean energy solutions

Rituraj Sharma, Shashank Jain, Ravi Saini, and Anuraag Verma

Rituraj Sharma, Shashank Jain, Ravi Saini, and Anuraag Verma

With a vision to change the renewable energy market space in India and provide effective solutions for renewable energy sources and environment conservation, Eco Mitram Sustainable Solutions Pvt Ltd was established by four friends - Rituraj Sharma (28), Shashank Jain (30), Ravi Saini (30) and Anuraag Verma (30) - in Jaipur, Rajasthan in 2014, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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Delhi-based Studio Creo aims to cross the Rs 10-Cr mark in 2019 with its designer furniture

Parushni Aggarwal

Parushni Aggarwal

Parushni Aggarwal is an interior designer by profession and right from her early age, had a real affinity for interior decoration. With an objective to bring together well-designed interior decor products and furniture at one single space, and make them accessible to students, architects and interior designers alike, she founded Studio Creo in 2010 in New Delhi, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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With willow from UK, this 22-year-old from Lucknow is batting for premium handcrafted cricket bats

A2's product range

A2's product range

Cricket is a religion for almost every other boy in India. Arindam Aggarwal, 22, was no different. But the mechanical engineer from University of Bristol decided that cricket could also be his career, and started A2 Cricket Pvt Ltd in 2016, at the age of 20. His vision was clear: to make his city, Lucknow, the hub of premium handcrafted cricket bat manufacturing. Till then, premium cricket bats in India were synonymous with Meerut, Jalandhar, and Srinagar, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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This Ludhiana-based entrepreneur built Rs 90-Cr business by embracing change and staying ahead of the curve

Rahul Ahuja

Rahul Ahuja

After completing his engineering, Ludhiana-based Rahul Ahuja joined his father’s business in 1993. But the second-generation entrepreneur says that from the beginning, he wanted to carve his own niche in the business. Rahul’s father Rajnish Ahuja had started Rajnish Industries in 1968 with an investment of Rs 2,000 in Ludhiana, Punjab. The company manufactures components for the diesel injection system, writes Mohit Sabharwal.

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Missing home food? Deccan Diaries’ traditional masalas have got you covered

Poojitha Prasad

Poojitha Prasad

An increasing number of Indians are migrating to other cities in search of work or for studies. However, while fending for themselves, they often miss out on the home-cooked food they grew up eating. Looking at this phenomenon as a business opportunity, Bengaluru-based budding entrepreneur Poojitha Prasad (35) asked herself how she could turn these people into paying customers. The answer presented itself in the form of the spices and masalas used to cook South Indian food, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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From Rs 46k to Rs 23 cr, how this college dropout built a successful construction company

The Blue Oak team

The Blue Oak team

In India, concrete jungles are expanding rapidly. The largest civil engineering and construction companies are working on an increasing number of large-scale projects. However, Bengaluru-based entrepreneur Sharath Somanna has taken it upon himself to deliver uncompromising quality to the industry’s midsegment, often overlooked by construction behemoths. Somanna’s startup Blue Oak Construction targets civil engineering and interiors projects in this section, which range from Rs 1 crore to Rs 20 crore, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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This Kanpur-based doctor-entrepreneur’s bandage business is in the pink of health

Ajit Rai Sabharwal

Ajit Rai Sabharwal

A chance conversation with a fellow medical professional on the poor quality of adhesive plasters in India led Kanpur-based Dr Ajit Rai Sabharwal to try his hand at manufacturing a product that would please his professional colleagues and also prove effective to patients. With an idea that had potential and his desire to disrupt the market, the 80-year-old immersed himself into the business and roped in his lawyer son Manish to assist him negotiate potential roadblocks in the heavily regulated medical field, writes Mohit Sabharwal.

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Hyderabad-based Ormeal Foods takes organic route to provide healthy food to babies

The Ormeal Foods team

The Ormeal Foods team

A morning spent with his seven-month-old nephew Medhansu made Satish Kumar realise the importance of children having nutritious food. Siva Satish Kumar (33) approached Pula Praveen Kumar (40), who is also an investor, and the duo set up Ormeal Foods Pvt Ltd in Hyderabad in 2015. The company aims to provide a better alternative to the conventional baby food industry by producing nutritious baby food products of certified organic origin, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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This Gorakhpur engineer shows the way to eco-friendly funerals

Ajay Kumar Jaiswal

Ajay Kumar Jaiswal

Millions of trees are cut in India every year to burn the dead. A traditional Hindu funeral pyre requires nearly 600 kilograms of wood to cremate a person. With rising pollution levels in India, a climate-friendly death seems to be the need of the hour. Ajay Kumar Jaiswal (52) started Urja Gasifiers Private Limited to produce renewable energy and provide energy-efficient and eco-friendly products to the customers. An engineer and a technocrat, he started the company in 2013 in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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This 22-year-old is taking a Rs 50Cr travel agency on a digital journey

Maanav Saraf

Maanav Saraf

In India, which is rapidly becoming digital, travelling has always been popular, and the sector is still growing. “The travel business in India is growing by more than 20 percent per annum. The largest market share is enjoyed by the online portals and consolidators,” says Maanav Saraf, Business Development Manager, Gainwell Travel. Maanav, 22, whose parents (Manoj and Madhulika Saraf) founded Gainwell Travel in 1991, handles digital marketing, corporate relations, Gainwell Sports, and future growth strategies in the business, alongside his father, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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This Kerala-based company is looking to climb the top spot in PVC pipe manufacturing

MA Shafi anfd MM Abdul Jafar

MA Shafi anfd MM Abdul Jafar

When Abdul Jabbar started working in the PVC pipe manufacturing industry 30 years ago, he never thought he would one day launch one of the top companies in Kerala. With a motto to provide high-quality PVC pipes and other related gears to the industries, MM Abdul Jabbar (54) started Vajra Plastics in 2004 in Ernakulam, Kerala. His son MA Shafi helps him in the business, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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This Kanpur-based firm socks it to the competition to make it big in the medical textile sector

Seema and Amod Bajpai

Seema and Amod Bajpai

After working as a consultant for many companies in India, Japan, Kenya, South Korea and other countries, Amod Bajpai (54) felt the demand for health socks in India was increasing. Bajpai decided to cash-in on this demand and use his expertise and knowledge in the anti-bacterial health socks segment to set up his own sock manufacturing company in India, writes Vatsla Srivastava.

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From Rs 12 lakh to Rs 1.7 Cr, how this Udaipur-based entrepreneur scaled his father’s namkeen business

Pratap Singh Rathore

Pratap Singh Rathore

Pratap Singh Rathore had never intended to join his father’s 50-year-old savoury snacks (namkeen) business in Udaipur. He says, “I was happy and content with my white-collar job in the financial sector and I planned to make a career in the same,” the 40-year-old recalls. But a personal and unexpected tragedy toppled Pratap’s plans, writes Mohit Sabharwal.

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