India has came a long way in the world of business. Entrepreneurship in India is not new. There are many Indian companies listed in the Fortune 500 list as well there are many multi-billionaires in India.
The new breed of businessmen or someone who wants to get inspired should definitely read the achievements of the below wonderful and the greatest businessmen from India. The inspiring thing about some of them is that despite British ruling the country they went on to go the extra mile, without the conducive environment for businesses and especially for Indians.
True visionaries like Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance Industries, and someone like Ardeshir Godrej; the founder of Godrej group of companies to Walchand Hirachand Doshi; the maker of the first modern shipyard, aircraft and car factory of India and other influential people are listed below.
Reading biographies helps a great deal but as of now just to get you started below are some of the notable achievements of the listed tycoons.
Let's go back in history and celebrate the achievements of some of these greats.
1| Dhirubhai Ambani (28 December 1932 - 6 July 2002)
Dhirubhai Ambani is the most famous businessman of India. Ask even a 5 year old in India, and he/she will know about Dhirubhai Ambani or atleast about his last name. In all his life, he learnt and applied. From his student life in the dusty lanes of a small village in Gujarat to the major seaport city of Aden and finally in Bombay where he become the doyen of the Indian industry.
All his life he had been doing only one thing and that is to learn and apply.
After doing his matriculation; though he wanted to continue study, Dhirubhai went to Aden, Yemen to earn money as his financial condition was not good. In Aden he worked with a trading firm as a clerk. In those days, Aden was the second-most busiest port in the world, and traders from across the world came here for business. He learnt the ins and outs of trading, read every thing that he could lay his hands on.
While the British Raj was ending in Yemen, many Indian expatriates went either to Britain in search of better life or came back in India. Dhirubhai choose the latter and started his business; first an import-export firm, then Reliance Industries and after years of hard work his dream to make the world's largest oil refinery of the world was completed in 1999 Jamnagar, Gujarat.
Undoubtedly, he is the most famous Indian businessman of all time.
If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.
— Dhirubhai Ambani
2| Ghanshyam Das Birla (April 10, 1894 - June 11, 1983)
A shrewd Businessman
G.D Birla is the founder of the Aditya Birla group, now a multinational conglomerate having its base in Mumbai. Ghanshyamdas left the traditional business (to lend money on hocked items) of his family and went to Bombay (now Mumbai) to start dealership in cotton. His venture was successful.
Further in the years to come he diversified in various other industries. He started a paper mill, a sugar factory, then a car factory, and also expanded his business in to cement, steel and also started a commercial bank now known as United Commercial Bank which is still operational by the name of UCO Bank.
Now Aditya Birla group operates in more than 33 countries and employs over 133,000 with an annual turnover of more than USD 35 billion.
3| Ardeshir Godrej (1868 - 1936)
Lock-master of India
The founder of the Godrej group of companies. Ardeshir Godrej studied law but couldn't do well as a lawyer. So he came to Bombay and started to work as an attendant to a chemist. Because of his great sense of business, he saw everything as a business opportunity.
Taking a loan from his father's friend he started to manufacture medical equipments required by a surgeon. Equipment such as scalpels, surgeon's scissor, forceps etc. When he was satisfied that his equipments are world-class, he went to the boss of the company which he was working as an attendant. His boss accepted that the equipment are great but the tag "Made in India" will not be there as that won't be marketable (I am talking about 1891). His boss said to him I am not against India or such that but for marketing purpose we can't keep the Made in India tag. Adershir didn't budge and the venture didn't materialize.
He failed twice (first as a lawyer and then in the manufacturing of surgeon's equipment) but he learned the first lesson for success; and that is failure.
One fine morning he was reading the daily news, and there was news that burglary in Bombay is increased and locks aren't proving useful as they should be. He looked that as a business opportunity and started to research about making locks. This venture of his just picked up. For this he is also known as the lock-master of India.
Then he also made the first soap ever without animal fat: Cinthol, which is still used by millions of people.
The locks made his company famous and now the Godrej group has diversified itself in the business of real estate, appliances, security, FMCG products etc.
4| Govindram Seksaria (October 19, 1888 - June 29, 1946)
Not many people know but Govindram Seskaria is the most famous businessman of the pre-independence era of India. At that time, not many Indians ventured in business when the East India Company was at the helm of the affairs. But that didn't deter Govindram and he went on to be known by the name of cotton king of the world.
First he become a member of Bombay Cotton Exchange and then of New York Cotton Exchange and many others throughout the world. He started his firm in 1937 which sold vegetable oil and then diversified to many other fields.
Considering the hostile environment for Indians at the time of British Raj; Govindram is nothing short of a pearl in the ocean.
5| Bhai Mohan Singh (30 December 1917 - March 27, 2006)
Pioneer of the Indian Pharma Industry
He is the pioneer of pharmaceutical industry in India. Ranbaxy was first a distributor of a japanese firm, after the two original owners Mr. Ranjit Singh and Gurbax Singh failed to pay a loan, Bhai Mohan Singh bought the company and joined hands with an Italian pharma company.
He later went on to buy the same Italian company and a major breakthrough came for the company with the launch of sleeping drug Calmpose. Ranbaxy in the years to come launched many products and also went on to make a name for itself around the world.
6| Jamsetji Tata (3 March 1839 – 19 May 1904)
Father of Indian Industry
Jamshetji Tata is the founder of the Tata group of companies. It is now the biggest Indian conglomerate of India employing more than 4 lakh people and with revenue boasting of USD 83 billion.
He started his adventurous life in business by setting a cotton mill in Bombay and then another in Nagpur. His dream was to set-up an iron and steel company, a science institution, a world-class hotel, and a hydro-electric plant.
Only one of his dreams got completed in his lifetime but his successors were able to complete all the others as well. The one which got completed was the picturesque Taj Mahal Hotel near the Gateway of India close to the Mumbai shoreline. Also, according to legends he set his minds on constructing such a hotel because once when he visited a foreign country he was denied entry to a luxury hotel. And now many foreigners first choice is the Taj Mahal hotel.
7| Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (29 July 1904 – 29 November 1993)
Father of the Indian Aviation Industry
If JRD Tata started it then Ratanji Tata was the one who made that in to a much larger success.
The vision of his founder to set up a steel company was completed by starting Tata Steel. And the other two wishes resulted in Indian Institute of Sciences and Tata Power.
JRD Tata was an aviator and got his commercial pilot license. He set up India's first commercial airline company known as Tata Airlines in 1932 which was rechristened as Air India in 1946 and is now India's national airline. For his achievement in business he was awarded the highest civilian award of India: Bharat Ratna.
8| Kailash Chandra Mahindra (1894 - 1963)
Sophisticated and Meticulous.
K.C Mahindra was one of the three founders of the company which was first known as Mahindra and Mohammad. One of the founder was his brother Jagdish Chandra Mahindra and the other one was his close friend Ghulam Mohammad. But after India's partition Ghulam Mohammad went to Pakistan and the company was renamed as Mahindra and Mahindra.
If J.C Mahindra was the dreamer then K.C Mahindra was the implementer. K.C Mahindra was known for his micro-approach to everything and was a great implementer.
9| Verghese Kurien (November 26, 1921)
The man behind the White Revolution of India
Verghese Kurian is the founder of Amul. The famous dairy products company. Amul is the largest producer of milk in the world. He is famous for his achievement in making the largest dairy development program of the world known as Operation Flood.
Dr. Kurien's effort made India as the largest producer of milk in the world.
His birth anniversary is now celebrated as National Milk Day in respect of his great achievements.
10| Walchand Hirachand Doshi (23 November 1882 – 8 April 1953)
Walchand Hirachand didn't belong to a wealthy family. His father was a small-time money lender but he had set his mind on something bigger. He dreamt big and made that happen.
Simple living and high thinking was the foremost biggest trait of Walchand.
After completing matriculation he got started first as a railway contractor in partnership with Laxmanroa Phatak who was a railway clerk. Walchand was not the one who would like to sit and just wonder what to do next; he always tried to make it happen, first bought a foundry and then a mining lease. Walchand grabbed it with both hands whatever business he got. That didn't went well with his partner who thought to concentrate on a single business rather than diversifying. And his partner quit mid-way.
The original firm found it difficult to get large projects because of its small size so he decided it to merge with the Tata group. Some of the major construction projects of the pre-independence era were all directed and executed in the supervision of Walchand. Later it was again renamed as Premier Construction with a major stake of the Tata's.
In his later years, he went on to start a Shipping company, the Scindia Steam Navigation Company which went on to grab 21% of the Indian coastal traffic. Then the first Indian Aircraft company; the Hindustan Aircraft, and a modern shipyard known as Hindustan Shipyard Limited and lastly the first car factory of India known as Premier Automobiles.