W Power 2024

From a candid conversation with Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal to the gennext of family businesses in Gujarat, here are our most-read stories of the week

Reasons behind why Gujarat produces successful family businesses, Kiran Rao at the Toronto International Film Festival and a chat with the makers of National Award-winning animation film 'Kandittund!' (Seen it!) are some of the stories that piqued the interest of our readers this week

Published: Sep 16, 2023 09:30:00 AM IST
Updated: Sep 15, 2023 05:32:00 PM IST

Image: ShutterstockImage: Shutterstock

1) Passing the baton

Gujarat has been a family business hub for centuries. It was bound to become the focus of one of our annual family business issues. The current Family Business issue, on stands now, highlights some of the noteworthy businesses that have not only contributed to India's economy but have shaped the zeitgeist of Gujarat. Changing times offer new opportunities and present unique challenges. Every new generation of these family businesses has taken over from their predecessors and improved the model while maintaining the core value system. How do they do it? Take a look at the playbooks of brands such as Wagh Bakri, Vadilal, Symphony Fabrics, and Aava Water.

2) Becoming a startup hub

Thanks to the cotton textile industry, Ahmedabad has been called the Manchester of India for the longest time. It has also been a family business hub with many prestigious names—Lalabhais of Arvind Ltd, Adanis of Adani Group, and many more. But there is also a subculture growing faster than the ivy on banyan tree—startups. On August 29, a report from Deloitte-Nasscom put a spotlight on Ahmedabad, calling it one of the emerging technology hubs. This story from the latest Forbes India issue looks at Ahmedabad's transformation into its latest title.

3) The root cause

Why are Gujaratis considered successful business people? Is it because the enterprising nature simply 'runs in their blood'? Lalbhais and Sarabhais are known for their textile mills. Ambanis changed the scene with petrochem in the 70s. Now Adanis have taken over the headlines. This is not where the list ends. Successful businesses started by Gujarati businessmen include Symphony, Fogg, Balaji Wafers, Pidilite, Sintex, Wagh Bakri, Vadilal, Havmor, Zydus Cadila and Torrent, to name a few. For this newsletter's third story, let's look at what makes the state an epicentre of successful ventures.


1) Pouring ice on competition

There are few entrepreneurs like Bhavish Aggarwal if you put a magnifying glass on India's startup ecosystem. The author had a genuine, candid conversation with the founder and CEO of Ola and Ola Electric, and he makes fascinating observations about the entrepreneur from Ludhiana, Punjab. During the 30-minute-long 'heart-to-heart', Aggarwal added zero filters; he was charged, exciting, stirring, dynamic, rousing, and electrifying—just like his EVs. In this conversation, Aggarwal addresses allegations of a 'toxic' work culture at Ola, the continuous spotlight on the company, Indian VCs and their relations with the founders, Ola's future ambitions, and putting ICE cubes in his drink. Read on.

2) Why solve for Bharat?

Nagaraja Prakasam had a successful career in software. He retired at 41 and since, has spent his time backing social enterprises. Currently, his designation is 'Partner, Acumen Fund' and 'an author'. In his book Back to Bharat: In Search of a Sustainable Future, impact investor Prakasam distinguishes between India and Bharat. For him, the word ‘Bharat’ means the “ignored billion” of the country. He says these people are still largely left out of the digital revolution—venture investors are mostly wary of them, and businesses stay away as they do not see profit in solving for them. Prakasam, who calls himself a farmer, talks to Divya Shekhar about his new book and life choices in the latest episode of From the Bookshelves of Forbes India.

3) Kiran Rao at TIFF 2023

The Toronto International Film Festival is back for another blockbuster year, and this year, South Asian films are having their moment. In an unprecedented record, 14 films at the TIFF are from South Asia—six from India. This signals the 'rude and boisterous health of Indian cinema', says Meenakshi Shedde, film critic and senior programme advisor at the Toronto International Film Festival. At the festival, Kiran Rao is making a directorial comeback with a powerful social commentary seeped in a comedy titled Laapataa Ladies. It is a story about newlywed brides who get mixed up on a train. In conversation with Forbes India, Rao shares how she turned a social story into a massy, entertaining, memorable film.

4) Art of storytelling: Animation version

Suresh Eriyat, creative director and founder of Studio Eeksaurus, and director Aditi Krishnadas are elated after winning the 69th National Film Awards 2023 for the best animation short Malayalam film Kandittund! (Seen it!). The animation film has roots in Eriyat's childhood, as he wanted to bring the traditional storytelling style (the way our grandmas used to tell) to the youth deprived of this privilege. Being too invested in the concept, he sought a neutral perspective for the project, and that's how Krishnadas came on board. In this interview, the duo discusses the film's subtler undertones, the studio's previous award-winning work, and the issues plaguing the animation industry.