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Dreaming big in 2019? Don't miss these top stories of 15 brands of India

posted on 31st December 2018
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As 2018 draws to a close, entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes are dreaming that they will grow bigger in 2019. But where do they look for inspiration? They look towards India's most-loved, home-grown brands for inspiration.

Behind these large brands are stories of grit, perseverance, and the determination to succeed against all odds. As the new year beckons, SMBStory presents 2018's most amazing stories of brands which have unlocked great value for Indian customers.

Starting with just Rs 20k, how these Pune-based entrepreneurs built a kathi roll empire

Gagan Sial, Puneet Kansal and Sukhpreet Sial

Gagan Sial, Puneet Kansal and Sukhpreet Sial

Around 2009, Pune was a growing market for the food industry, and seemed like a good opportunity for a business that could leverage the changing nature of the kathi roll. At this point, 18-year-old entrepreneur Puneet Kansal had just started Rolls Mania, his kathi roll business, with a meagre Rs 20,000. He was running a table-sized kiosk outside a restaurant at Magarpatta city, and he had just one chef, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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How this Ludhiana-based woman entrepreneur gave a new identity to India’s woolen fashion industry

Mridula and Amit Jain

Mridula and Amit Jain

Seventy-year-old Mridula Jain summarised her entire journey of building Shingora, a leading Indian luxury brand of shawls, scarves, and stoles, with these words: "There is something called opportunity. God sends it and you have to grab it. When opportunities fell in my lap, I grabbed them. It has made me who I am today." What started as a handloom-based enterprise for making shawls in Ludhiana around four decades ago, is now a leading manufacturer and brand in the country for scarves, shawls, and stoles, writes Mohit Sabharwal.

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Starting with Rs 10k, this entrepreneur survived three recessions and built a Rs 600 Cr company

RS Shanbhag

RS Shanbhag

In 1991, the Indian economy was undergoing a significant economic reform. The year was ushering in a new era of globalisation and accelerating the growth of the country’s capabilities in Information Technology. Eyeing this, multinational corporations started planning to set up their second homes in the tropical climes of India. Looking to ride this wave of big hitters, entrepreneur RS Shanbhag (51) created Valuepoint Systems in 1991 in Bengaluru to offer services in system integration to the newcomer, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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How far can you go with Rs 3,000 and a name borrowed from an eatery? $11M and counting, as Abhishek Rungta’s story shows

Abhishek Rungta

Abhishek Rungta

The year was 1997. A time when the Maidan in Kolkata was more popular for the number of book fairs than a computer fair. When owning a desktop was akin to owning an iPhoneX in the college dormitory. Expensive and rare. But at 19, Abhishek Rungta had already ‘tasted blood,’ when he experienced the internet on his own computer for the first time ever. Today nearly 21 years later, Abhishek has gone on to set up one of the most successful IT companies, Indus Net Technologies, out of Kolkata, writes Dipti Nair.

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Long before instant food became popular, India had Gits. Remember? Find out more about this pioneer

Gits' range of products

Gits' range of products

Back in the 1960s, when elaborate and time-consuming cooking practices were the norm, the convenience food segment was pioneered by Gits Food, the first company to introduce the concept of instant mixes (ready-to-cook) in India. In 1963, two friends, HZ Gilani and AK Tejani, had launched Gits Foods with the objective to ease and quicken cooking processes without compromising on health, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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Starting with nothing, this Ludhiana-based entrepreneur went on to build a Rs 400-crore business

Nalin Tayal (left)

Nalin Tayal (left)

You must have heard of entrepreneurs who have used wealth from previous endeavours to build a successful new venture. And also about those entrepreneurs too, who inherited their traditional family businesses and transformed them into something new. Forty-eight-year-old Nalin Tayal from Ludhiana, Punjab is one such entrepreneur, who, after completing his studies and working as a financial consultant for five years, went on to establish his own financial consultancy firm, GATS India Ltd in 1999, writes Mohit Sabharwal.

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'We see few women in leadership positions in healthcare': Ishiqa Multani of Sagar Hospitals

Ishiqa Multani

Ishiqa Multani

Sagar Hospitals is a family-owned, independent private tertiary care chain and also runs a chain of clinics and pharmacies in Bengaluru. As the first non-owner and non-medico Executive Vice President at Sagar Hospitals, Ishiqa Multani firmly believes there are opportunities for women leaders and entrepreneurs to create a formidable ecosystem in healthcare in India. At Sagar Hospitals, she gauges changing markets and customer behaviour and takes business transformation and transition decisions, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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Cash strapped for 3 years, read how Nikhil Sen turned Unibic into India’s fastest growing cookie brand

Nikhil Sen

Nikhil Sen

For several years, glucose biscuits was a tough cookie in the Indian market. However, after it lost its energy, cream biscuits and cookies started becoming a favourite as they were more affordable, and in the process, toppled glucose biscuits to achieve a larger market share. In the midst of this shift, Unibic was set up in India by former Britannia COO Nikhil Sen, Unibic Australia’s Michael Quinn and entrepreneur Dhruv Deepak Saxena in 2004 in Bengaluru, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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Dollar Industries aims to fit as the big boss of innerwear hosiery sector

The Dollar Industries team

The Dollar Industries team

In 1973-74 when the Indian textile industry experienced different export performance during the pre-liberalisation reforms, Dindayal Gupta started Bhawani Textiles. Today, 80-year-old Dindayal Gupta is the Chairman of the renamed Dollar Industries Limited, which is one of the leading brands in hosiery sector with a 15% market share. Their textile exports stands at 9% of their total production in Indian hosiery market, writes Dipti Nair.

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With Rs 200 crore turnover, Delhi-based Modern Bazaar is tasting sweet success


As an aspiring businessman in the 90s, Kunaal Kumar had two options ahead of him. Follow up his engineering course with an MBA or delve into his father’s bakery business to learn the ropes. He chose the latter and is now running one of India's successful retail chains in Delhi. After learning the tricks of the trade from his father, Kunaal Kumar in 2005 relaunched Modern Bazaar - his father’s venture, but this time not as a bakery but as a chain of retail outlets in the Delhi-NCR region, writes Mohit Sabharwal.

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Syska’s lightbulb moment: How the company diversified from music to electronics to wires & personal care

Rajesh and Gitika Uttamchandani

Rajesh and Gitika Uttamchandani

For a company that has now become synonymous with electrical fittings, you’d be surprised that Syska was moving to a different tune some 30 years ago. It began as Shree Sant Kripa Appliances Pvt. Ltd (SSK Group) in 1989 involved in the distribution of T-Series audio cassettes, CDs, and audio video systems. Started by brothers Rajesh and Govind Uttamchandani, the Syska Group today is a Rs 1200-crore company of which 70 percent comes from Syska LED, 20 percent comes Syska accessories and the remaining 10 percent from other segments, writes Dipti Nair.

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The true enabler of India’s digital payments: Sarvatra Technologies and its EFT switch platform

Sumeet Phadnis, Executive Director and CEO, and Mandar Agashe

Sumeet Phadnis, Executive Director and CEO, and Mandar Agashe

Vying for the largest share of the country’s Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) market are startups like PayTM, PhonePe and Google’s Tez (now Google Pay). Pune-based Sarvatra Technologies, founded in 2000, is playing a different game altogether. It is digitally-enabling banks to be part of the EFT wave by providing them with PaaS (Platform as a Service) solutions, which allow UPI and Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) transactions, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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‘Failure rate highest in food business,’ says founder of Mamagoto

Kabir Suri and Rahul Khanna

Kabir Suri and Rahul Khanna

As far as daydreaming goes, this is the baap of all daydreams -- to own a restaurant someday. Eight out of 10 people you meet must have told you, ‘one day I am going to quit my job and start a cafe.’ If starting a food business was as easy as eating out, then cows would be jumping over the moon. It is just as well that Rahul Khanna and Kabir Suri did not harbour any such dreams. With a family legacy in dining and hospitality, one can only say that it was thrust upon them, writes Dipti Nair.

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How this father-son duo tailored their strategy for success with custom apparel

Madan Kumar and Harsha Vardhan

Madan Kumar and Harsha Vardhan

In 2015, sixty-four-year-old Madan Kumar launched Gubbacci to bring order to the unorganised apparel market and bring it online. Looking at the nature of the school uniform market in 2016, he realised that his company could venture into this area. With Gubbacci, Kumar plans to account for the differences in measurements and alterations, make it affordable and have quality products, writes Rishabh Mansur.

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How Neelam Cycles rode the market conditions to become country’s leading cycle brand

Rajesh Seth

Rajesh Seth

Ludhiana-based Rajesh Seth recalls how his uncle and father took advantage of a sudden market development in 1970s to build a leading cycle brand called Neelam Cycles. “God gives an opportunity to every person for growth. Sometime in late 70s, a behemoth cycle maker of the time, which held approximately 90 percent of the market share, decided to abandon its rickshaw manufacturing operations, because it considered that business to be too substandard,” says Rajesh, Joint Director of Neelam Cycles. Mohit Sabharwal finds out more.

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