W Power 2024

Class of 2017: Breakout stars and proven performers

In the year since they were recognised, most in our cohort of young achievers have gone the distance. And those who have faced adversities, soldiered on. But for the most part, the Millennials are alright, as this report card shows

Published: Feb 12, 2018 03:19:21 PM IST
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 03:46:53 PM IST

Dhaval Shah and Dharmil Seth of PharmEasy
Image: Mexy Xavier

Co-founders, Swiggy

Even as peers struggled to raise capital, Swiggy added $80 million to its $75 million war chest, in a funding round led by Naspers. The food delivery startup claims to have serviced close to 4 million orders in eight Indian cities last July and reduced its delivery costs by 35 percent in 2017. Currently, it has 20,000-odd delivery personnel servicing about 20,000 restaurants. To improve margins, Swiggy is establishing its own brands—The Bowl Company, House of Dabbas and Punjabi Rasoi. It has also partnered with restaurants to open kitchens in localities that are underserved, but with good business promise, under its Swiggy Access programme.

The Forbes India Impact: “Being part of the Forbes India 30 under 30 list has added another layer of credibility to our vision of changing the way India eats,” says Reddy.

Co-founders, UrbanClap

UrbanClap, the online marketplace for service professionals, managed to raise additional capital last year despite a choking of the funding pipeline that forced peers like Taskbob to fold up or sell themselves (Zimmber was acquired by Quikr). In July, UrbanClap raised $21 million in a funding round led by Vy Capital. A sharp focus on verticals such as beauty and home repairs has made the company attractive to VCs and service professionals alike. The company now claims to serve 3,00,000 service requests per month.

The Forbes India Impact: “Being featured in the Forbes India 30 Under 30 list was a recognition of our efforts, giving us a further push to strive harder,” says Chandra.


Pannu had a remarkable 2017 with four releases to her credit, including the immensely successful Judwaa 2, which became the fourth-highest grosser of the year with ₹138 crore in box office collections. Pannu’s stock continues to soar in the film industry and she continues to bag plum projects. She’s just wrapped up Soorma, directed by Shaad Ali and starring Diljit Dosanjh, and has been roped in for Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan.

Founders, Signzy

The startup, which uses AI and blockchain to authenticate documentation and identification of clients, had what its promoters call a “breakthrough” year. It built an application for ICICI Bank, which carried out its first international trade transaction and overseas remittance using blockchain. In 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced Signzy as a Global FinTech Hackcelerator and FinTech Awards finalist. The company has grown exponentially in 2017, with 35 clients, compared to just two in 2016. It plans to expand to Singapore and other regions of Southeast Asia in 2018.

The Forbes India Impact: “The most valuable thing has been that the introduction to our firm has changed, people have heard of us already,” says Ankit Ratan.

Founders, PharmEasy

Over the last year, PharmEasy expanded its business to 700 cities, from five a year ago, and quadrupled its headcount to 1,000. Close to a million customers have registered for the online pharmacy’s services till date, says Sheth. PharmEasy is also using a lot of automation in its services to let registered customers purchase medicines easily by automatically replenishing their stock. The company raised $17 million in a Series B funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and Orios Venture Partners in January 2017.

The Forbes India Impact:
“A lot of people, till last year, were not aware of PharmEasy and it was a challenge for us to convince regulators, investors and customers. The recognition from Forbes India has given confidence to all stakeholders,” says Sheth.

Co-founders, ShareChat

The ShareChat app, which simplifies access to vernacular digital content, improved on many matrices last year: App installations grew eight-fold to 20 million, daily active users multiplied seven times to 2.1 million and the app will soon be available in about 15 languages, up from five earlier.

The startup also closed a $18.5-million Series B funding round in a sedate environment, which “elevated us from a startup to an infant corporate”, says Ahsan. They have made significant hires—Sunil Kamath, former senior vice president for Asia business at Opera Software is the new chief business officer—and strengthened their data science and machine learning teams.

The Forbes India Impact: “As founders of a startup catering to a vernacular audience, it has become much easier for us to navigate. An effort to make an impact in the vernacular world is now considered ‘cool’,” says Ahsan.


Image: Joshua Navalkar

Artist, Animator

The artist behind Adarsh Balak, the popular comic series with subversive messages, had a year full of exhibitions, appearances and accolades. Trivedi showcased his work with the Shrine Empire Gallery, at India Art Fair 2017, and at the Contemporary Art Week in New Delhi. Internationally, he had a solo exhibition at L’agence en résidence, Bordeaux, France. Other honours included being a jury member for Design Fabric’s Low-Res, a countrywide student-focussed initiative aimed at selecting and mentoring art and design students, and being invited as a guest speaker at the Delhi Comic Arts Festival.

The Forbes India Impact:
“It has helped me attract a fair share of recognition and appreciation for my work among peers and professional networks. It will surely help me further down the road as I develop and grow,” says Trivedi.

Electronic Music Composer

In the past year, Bakshi forayed into filmmaking. The idea, he says, is not to move away from music, but to expand his art into an audiovisual form. Moving forward, he plans to focus on making documentaries and non-fiction films related to music, in addition to being a music video director and editor. Bakshi has decided to tour less in 2018 to focus on making new music and to uncover a new direction for the future. This would mean spending more time in his Delhi-based music studio, practising filmmaking and experimenting with multimedia art forms in ways that weren’t previously possible while being on the road.

Theatre Actor and Director

Rajwade took his directing skills from stage to screen with his first feature film last year. The yet-untitled Marathi film is now in the post-production phase, with which he will remain busy until March even as he directs a new play by students of the Lalit Kala Kendra in Pune. Kaasav, for which he had shot in 2016, also released last year and went on to win the National Award for Best Feature Film. The film was also shown at the Brics Film Festival in China, where Rajwade won the award for the best male actor. He also continued with shows of his earlier plays through the year and has another play in mind once his film is completed.

The Forbes India Impact: 
“It gave me confidence, it’s a very good feeling when someone recognises the work you do and you work with more passion, you feel you are on the right path,” says Rajwade.

Type and Graphic Designer, Illustrator

Nallaperumal has had an eventful year. He completed projects with major brands
and institutions like ARCASIA, Indian Institute of Architects and Fila. He also collaborated with the Mumbai-based Taxi Fabric to redesign the Red Bull Tour Bus, and also designed ‘Geostickers’ for Snapchat. He spoke at the prestigious Typographics Conference in New York in June where he unveiled and published a ‘pseudo-artificially intelligent’ typeface called Calcula (previously called Labyrinth) with the type foundry and design studio Typotheque. He also published another typeface, Faction, with Lost Type Co-op, towards the end of the year.

The Forbes India Impact: “Forbes India’s mainstream appeal and acceptance helped spread awareness about the field and the importance of typography,” says Nallaperumal.

Innovator and Entrepreneur

Multiple prototypes of LifeCradle, an incubator for newborns designed by Sanghavi, were lab tested last year. In the coming months, clinical trials will be conducted and approvals sought. Sanghavi is partnering with different organisations and governments to launch the product. Sanghavi’s second innovation Creoto, a programmable smart socket for amputees, has gone through a few successful trials and will be launched soon.

The Forbes India Impact:
“Being in the Forbes India 30 under 30 cohort has helped me win recognition among mentors, investors and organisations. It has helped me connect with different youth communities and like-minded individuals,” says Sanghavi.

Co-founders, BlackBuck

The online road freight marketplace raised $70 million (₹476 crore) in Series C funding from Sands Capital Management and existing investors such as Accel Partners, Tiger Global, Apoletto and Flipkart. The startup added close to 100,000 new truckers and shippers on to its marketplace over the last year and its revenue grew seven-fold to ₹566 crore.

Image: Joshua Navalkar


His performance in his last two films, Mardaani (2014) and Force 2 (2016), won him rave reviews, but Bhasin continues to be choosy about the work he takes on. He’ll next be seen in Nandita Das’s Manto, a biopic on Pakistani author Saadat Hasan Manto, which has Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the title role. The actor also opted to act in a web series, titled Time Out, which was widely appreciated.


Bhutiani’s debut film Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation), which released in India last year, won two National Award Special Mentions (for Best Film and Best Actor). Mukti Bhawan was also picked up in
over 40 countries for distribution, including by the British Film Institute, which released it all over the UK. It has already travelled to over 50 festivals worldwide, garnering applause and awards along the way.
The Forbes India Impact: “I felt honoured to be on a list of young, talented people. It inspires me to continue making the kind of work I believe in and keep searching for stories that need to be told,” says Bhutiani. “On a personal note, my grandfather, who has probably never read a film magazine in his life, since his background is in business, was so happy to see me in a magazine like Forbes India, which he recognises and values.”

Founder & Creative Head, House of Masaba

Among the many achievements of last year, Gupta counts among the top four the launch of her store in Mumbai’s Palladium Mall, the launch of a line of watches for Titan Raga, being on the cover of Forbes India and getting to interview the cast of the TV series The Crown in London as a guest of Netflix. Her plans for 2018 revolve largely around the expansion of her label. “We have three new stores opening [including a café-cum-store]. And we have plans for at least two more in the latter part of the year,” she says.
The Forbes India Impact: “Fashion is often seen as frivolous and is one profession that needs a nod from the business heads… so being featured on the list was a stamp of approval. Also, it helps in worldwide recognition for the brand,” says Gupta.

Image: Amit Verma

Fashion Designer, Antar-Agni

Dubey, whose clients include actors Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput and Riteish Deshmukh, was selected as the regional winner in the men’s category of the prestigious International Woolmark Prize. He competed in the international final along with 11 others for the A$200,000 prize.

Founder, The Bohri Kitchen

Over the past year, Kapadia hosted some of the top Bollywood celebrities, including Farah Khan and Rishi Kapoor, at the weekend pop-up at his home, and also ramped up his outstation catering services. He won a reality show on TV, Grilled, where he secured the mentorship of noted restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani and an investment of ₹1.5 crore. With the money, he is finally on course to set up a proper central kitchen, delivery and catering infrastructure and significantly scale up The Bohri Kitchen.

The Forbes India Impact:
“I was lucky to have received the acknowledgement at a time when my morale was the lowest. It revived my faith in TBK’s potential,” says Kapadia.

Image: Mexy Xavier

Founder & CEO, Yellow Tie Hospitality

Over the last 12 months, Tanna has grown his food franchise business at a scorching pace: From seven franchised food outlets to 42. The company’s largest franchised brand, US-based Genuine Broaster Chicken, now operates 31 outlets across the country. Besides, Tanna added two more international brands to the company’s portfolio—UAE-based street food brand Just Falafel and UK-based Wrapchic. Tanna also went live with his in-house food brand Dhadoom, which presently has seven franchised outlets.

The Forbes India Impact:
“After the announcement, the confidence among our franchise partners and stakeholders increased drastically. I also received a lot of emails from students and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to build a career for themselves in the F&B industry. In fact, four of them are currently working with us,” says Tanna.

Image: Amit Verma

Former National General Secretary, NSUI

The Forbes India 30 Under 30 recognition prompted Aribam to take her learnings to an academic level. She has spent the last four months at Peking University, studying public policy on a scholarship. She’ll be back in time for the 2019 elections and plans to work for the Congress either in her home state Manipur or in Delhi.

Associate, Assam Justice Program, Nazdeek

The last year has been an eventful one for Choudhury. Nazdeek, the organisation she worked for, has trained more than 50 adivasi women as paralegals and explained to them the fineprint of the Plantation Labour Act, Wages Act, Right to Education etc. They can now file reports documenting violations. Nazdeek estimates it has reached over 1,000 adivasi women in Assam.

The Forbes India Impact:  Choudhury says the recognition was covered by several local newspapers and news channels that helped her connect with a lot of people and grow her network.

Co-founders, YourDOST

Over the last year, the online counseling and emotional support platform YourDOST has been focusing on scalability by experimenting with various revenue models. It has also started collaborating with institutions, corporates and governments: YourDOST is now associated with many premier institutions such as IIT-Madras, IIT-Delhi, and the Madhya Pradesh government to ensure the emotional well-being of their students and staff.

The Forbes India Impact:  “The world looks at us differently now. There is a trust that is established, from people across governments and institutions, once we say we are part of the Forbes India 30 Under 30 list,” says Singh.

Founder & CEO, Ketto

The business of crowdfunding only became more engaging and profitable for Ketto in 2017. Today, with a staff of 50, Ketto works with 15,000 non-profit firms (up from 3,500 in 2016) and has raised over ₹150 crore for various causes through 50,000 campaigns (up 66 percent from a year earlier). Its revenues have doubled to ₹4 crore in 2017. Ketto has also partnered with BookMyShow’s charity initiative to create the biggest ever online fund-raising event in India, for NGOs. This campaign has so far raised ₹1.82 crore through the participation of 122 NGOs and 7,740 donors.

The Forbes India Impact:  “For the space in which we are, credibility is a must… it [a place in the Forbes India 30 under 30 List] has helped us get partners. The recognition has only made our case stronger,” says Sheth.

Founder, EnviGreen Biotech

Hegde’s quest to take on the scourge of plastic waste with his biodegradable EnviGreen carry bags went through some bottlenecks. Plans to shift EnviGreen Biotech’s manufacturing base to India, from Qatar, were deferred by a year as “additional certifications for the EnviGreen bags and approvals for the [Bengaluru] factory took time”. Meeting capital requirements, too, prolonged the start of operations as Hegde resisted the urge to dilute his stake in the company when “approached by many VCs”. Meantime, EnviGreen strengthened its marketing presence by signing up exclusive marketing partners in over 10 countries and inking export orders from its channel partner in France, which Hegde expects to fulfil “once the plant achieves full capacity in February”.

The Forbes India Impact: “Recognition from Forbes India was a turning point as it helped me reach out to global partners,” says Hegde.

Image: Amit Verma

Founder & CEO, Little Black Book

Over the last year, Little Black Book (LBB), which offers local discoveries for food, shopping, lifestyle and cultural dos through its website and app, expanded from three to 18 cities. Salwan bolstered her senior leadership team to look into revenue, marketing and technology. A third round of funding of ₹6.5 crore led by Blume Ventures was also seen through, as was a user-generated content feature which lets users directly post their recommendations on the platform. LBB’s 1.5 million monthly active users grew to 2.5 million.

The Forbes India Impact: “Vanity metrics also matter…so from the perspective of attracting talent and having a better brand presence, the biggest impact has been from the recognition we have got from Forbes India,” says Salwan. 

Image: Mexy Xavier


After a stellar 2016, where he clocked India’s best rowing performance at the Rio Olympics, Bhokanal spent 2017 without any international exposure. While the Rowing Federation of India isn’t giving away much, reports claim that Bhokanal was caught in a crossfire between the RFI and the Army Rowing Node, where he trains, due to which army rowers are known to have stayed away from nationals for the past two years. Bhokanal returned to the 36th Senior Nationals in Pune in December, winning gold in the single sculls category. One can only hope that egos take a backseat and India’s best sculler is back to the waters gearing up for a podium finish in Tokyo 2020.

High Jumper

Thangavelu, who leapt to fame after clinching the gold medal in the T42 high jump event at the Rio Paralympics in summer of 2016, was awarded the Padma Shri as well as the Arjuna Award in 2017. After all, his Rio feat made him only the third Indian to win the yellow metal at the Paralympics and the first to do so in high jump. Currently, Thangavelu is training for the Asian Games in Jakarta scheduled for August, and also has his sights set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.


In November, Aditi qualified for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), becoming the first from India to play at the prestigious meet. She also clinched the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in November, her third Ladies European Tour win in 12 months.

The Forbes India Impact:
“Women’s golf and golf in India doesn’t get much recognition. Being featured in the 30 under 30 list was cool and pretty awesome for the sport and helps in taking it forward,” says Aditi.

CEO & Owner, Premier Futsal

In 2017, Premier Futsal became the second Indian sports league to have ever gone international after the Indian Premier League. It partnered with Dubai Sports Council and the UAE Futsal Executive Committee to launch in the country. In its second outing, they spent 30 percent less to execute a season, which had seven more match days, nine more matches and an international venue. However, increasing viewership and maintaining product stickiness was the biggest hurdle. “Traditional sports marketing techniques of bringing celebrities to become team ambassadors helped increase the regional reach and the brand value of the league,” says Balasubramanian.

The Forbes India Impact: “It improved brand recollection for our business development,” says Balasubramanian.

Co-founder & CEO, LogiNext

LogiNext has expanded operations, adding 10 markets, and expects to finish FY18 with revenues higher by 300 percent compared with the previous fiscal. In addition to India, the logistics software solutions venture now serves more than 700 customers in markets, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Singapore, the UK and the US. The venture also raised an undisclosed amount in fresh funding, at three times the valuation at which it did its previous round. Profitability has taken a tad longer than anticipated a year ago, but isn’t too far, says Sanghvi.

The Forbes India Impact:
“A lot of things happened via the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. It brought us not only learnings but also some business as well,” says Sanghvi.

Co-Founders, Razorpay

Over the last 12 months, Kumar and Mathur expanded their vision of making payments a painless experience for businesses. At the start of 2017, Razorpay had over 20,000 businesses using their platform, integrating some 100 different forms of payments. They have doubled their client base since. The volume of transactions has grown 20 times in the last 12 months, Mathur had told the media in September.

The Forbes India Impact:
“Being featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list not only reinstated Razorpay as a next-generation digital payments company, but also gave us the confidence to continue working towards solving India’s payments infrastructure problems,” says Mathur.

Compiled and reported by team forbes India

(This story appears in the 16 February, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)