Now is the ultimate time to start a business in India.
Start-up success rates are on the rise, average funding has increased, and there is an opportunity for growth with online businesses.
In this post, we identify 20 entrepreneurs that launched profitable businesses in India AND discuss the thought process behind coming up with their idea.
Start a luxury shoes business
Kartik Gurmule started KASA, which sells luxury shoes and is making $80,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business as a solo founder with no employees.
I started KASA as my first company as a 16 years teenager in the summer before high school, although it was not my first business. Since I was 12 years old, I did small projects like making websites and running marketing for clients.
When secondary school ended, I came to know about FlightClub, StockX, and Sneakerdon and got introduced to the sneaker culture around the world. With my connections made in the previous venture, I was able to get inside contacts in big sneaker brands who could supply me with the shoes skipping the waiting line.
But, due to strict Indian customs and taxations, this business failed in the first month itself. I was able to import the shoes at my home but was unable to sell for a good profit because it charged high custom fees and high international courier charges as potential customers were in the USA.
Start a disruptive naming & branding services business
Darpan Munjal started Squadhelp, which sells disruptive naming & branding services and is making $250,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 20 employees.
Originally from New Delhi, my fascination with computers began at a young age. With only one available in my school, my fascination and curiosity for computers only grew stronger and followed me well into my college and adulthood; I was successfully accepted into an engineering college and soon after graduation received a computer consulting job from Tata Group. In addition to Tata Group, I applied for a job in Chicago at Xpedior, a startup company, where I was a consultant for numerous e-commerce and dotcom companies.
As silly as it sounds, failing is the only way to understand how to grow individually and professionally.
I launched Squadhelp as an experiment in 2011 when I was personally struggling to come up with a great name for another venture. In the beginning, I never assumed Squadhelp would grow to become a large business opportunity - the initial intention was for the platform to be used as a resource by other startups who were in similar situations. However, as the platform and creative community grew organically, Squadhelp began receiving of customers through word of mouth.
Start a sleep product business
Sandeep Prasad started Wink & Nod, which sells sleep product and is making $129,969 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 25 employees.
I used to work for a VC fund in Florida and focused on investments in early-stage consumer brands. I was also the COO of a luxury eCommerce watch company as part of the VC fund. I noticed a consistent rise in US & Europe based startups that focused on disrupting the mattress and the sleep market - these startups were bringing sleep products that were traditionally sold offline to an online-first model. Plus there was a lot of innovation in the product itself. Being someone who had experienced difficulties with sleep and actively looking for the best products that the market has to offer, it piqued my interest.
Treat your company or your startup as a child - nurture it, grow it, and make it ready for the world.
The catalyst to start the business was the pursuit of my parents for a good mattress. They spent more than three weeks in this quest and ended up buying a mattress for an absurd price of Rs 30,000. Upon asking my mother what mattress she had purchased, she was not very sure. The experience of my parents and the potential opportunities in the Indian mattress industry sparked the idea of building a startup focusing on sleep.
Start a cryptocurrency tax software business
Vamshi Vangapally started BearTax, which sells cryptocurrency tax software and is making $100,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 2 co-founders and has 4 employees.
I am a product consultant with a focus on UI and UX for web and mobile products. Been a technology enthusiast trying to solve problems that could be addressed with technology and been creating products for customers for the past 7 years. Prady Doddala, my co-founder and I have been working on such products together for more than 8 years. He’s my junior in undergrad and a good friend in this journey.
It’s like team Avengers, I’ve found the right team after years including Prady and another enthusiastic co-founder Arun NH. We complement each other in various skills that are necessary to build and scale a startup.
I’ve got stuck by Bitcoin bug in early 2017 when talking to friends facing ransomware issues on their servers. After exploring Bitcoin, I dug through the rabbit hole to understand various others like Ethereum, Litecoin and so on. I started understanding it and been explaining it to friends a lot over chat. To avoid redundancy, I’ve started writing things I learn on Medium and got a website confusedcoin.com to point the same.
Start a remote tech talent business
Suvansh Bansal started Flexiple, which sells remote tech talent and is making $80,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 2 co-founders and has 9 employees.
Flexiple is my first foray into entrepreneurship. Though, being a third-generation entrepreneur, I reckon I always had the zeal to build something of own. However, at the beginning of my career, I took the traditional route and worked at 2 MNCs for ~3 years.
My zeal to learn faster, however, led me to join IIM Ahmedabad - India’s top-ranked B school in June’15 and that is where I met my partners and Flexiple’s co-founders - Karthik and Hrishikesh. During my time at IIM A too, surprisingly, I was dissatisfied with the learning opportunities available as textbooks and in-class discussions were the only media available.
Whereas what I wanted was to get my hands dirty and implement the theory we were learning in class. After a couple of false starts, I decided to join the two of them. They had already been working on defining Flexiple’s vision for almost a year by Aug’16 while juggling course-work during our first year of MBA.
Start a network marketing software business
Abdul Majeed started Infinite MLM Software, which sells network marketing software and is making $65,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 4 co-founders and has 100 employees.
Yes! It was the struggling period for us to cross all the hurdles to success. There is a saying that success will not come to you, instead, you need to keep on trying to get success in all the aspects of your life.
We, five members, we're working in an IT company and our ideas were merged to form a unity in establishing IOSS. Our idea to start up with product marketing came up with our plan about dreaming and enduring the future. We submitted our idea to TBI Manager (Technical Business Incubation) and they approved it and we received some funds from the investors to start our first business venture, the development of school tracking software and it was a great success but we could not support a similar type of product marketing.
So we started with an affiliate marketing tool, where we researched more into the MLM field and its business operations. We found many people into multi-level marketing and earning as a part-time or full-time business and that manual work could be done through the software to make their business tracking in an easy way. This gave us an opportunity to support an MLM business owner and we got our first client from Bangladesh to build MLM software for his MLM business. This paved the way for our flagship product.
Start a handcrafted jewelry business
Pragya Batra started Quirksmith, which sells handcrafted jewelry and is making $39,956 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 1 co-founder and has 5 employees.
Growing up, I was the nerdy one in my family. I loved my books (especially mathematics!). My parents saw all the signs of a budding “science” lover. And so, I was shown the path to Engineering! I studied at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi (IIT Delhi) and graduated in the year 2007 with a Btech and MTech in Biochemical engineering and Biotechnology. After that, I appeared for campus placements and landed myself a job at Bain & Company. I spent the next 8 years in strategy consulting, working with some of the smartest people across organizations in India. I also took a break from work to study at INSEAD (2011-12), before coming back to corporate life.
In the year 2015, for the first time in 15 years, I was living in the same city as my sister, Divya. She is a jewellery designer and she had moved to Bangalore in 2015 to head a design studio for her then-employer. It was at this time that Quirksmith sprouted as a passion project for the two of us. For almost a year we spent several weekends making appearances at pop up markets across Bangalore, showcasing our limited (and super quirky) range of silver jewellery. It was in these times that I saw the potential for Quirksmith to shape up as a brand that had something unique to offer. Our customers soon became our brand evangelists. Women would seek our pop up stores at these events. I was excited about the number of repeat customers we started to get on such a small base.
In 2016, I decided to quit my corporate career and focus on Quirksmith. And so I started to build a website on Shopify. We took help from our friends to shoot and model for the first version of the website. Thank God for talented friends! :). Within a few months, we launched our website quirksmith.com in November 2016.
Start a watches business
Ronnie Teja started Branzio, which sells watches and is making $25,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 10 employees.
My family moved to Canada in May 2007 which makes me a first generation immigrant. I was 21 around the time, and I came from Mumbai, India where I already had a job in advertising.
I continued to experiment with drop shipping and other small ecommerce niches, till it hit me - I needed to build a brand, which was focused on longevity, I wanted to start a purpose-driven brand, not just any watch store.
In those days, Vancouver was still a small market and the opportunities in advertising and other related industry were very limited, so I got a job selling Indian (Punjabi) radio and for my first year in Vancouver, Canada. I took public transit to do sales at mom and pop Indian stores door to door to sell radio advertising.
Start an email marketing software business
Varun Jain started SendX, which sells email marketing software and is making $23,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 2 co-founders and has 7 employees.
I am an engineer by profession but since the early years, I have dabbled with product, design, and business. After graduating from college I worked with a couple of tech startups as an early engineer. The first company where I worked got acquired for $25million in 12 months straight. That was my first brush with the entire cycle of building and selling startups.
During this entire time, I had been dabbling with some ideas once of which was ArtCurry - a creative marketplace for traditional artists and craftsmen. While working on it I got introduced to the entire world of email marketing and lead generation. I ended up using tools like MailChimp, SumoMe, LeadPages etc. Just the effort involved in stitching these products together, the complexity involved and the price was daunting for me.
So very naively I thought I could do a better job and that’s how SendX started in 2016 to essentially solve the problems which I faced myself. Once the first initial prototype was built I started talking to a few friends and colleagues and that’s how I roped in Mayank and Agni as my co-founders after a few months of starting the company.
Start a social media scheduler business
Dinesh Agrawal started RecurPost, which sells social media scheduler and is making $35,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 15 employees.
I was groomed to be a research scientist. I spent a few years doing that. However, I come from a business family and that had a strong influence on me. I loved the idea of creating products that benefit others. I loved the idea of creating jobs. I could do this only if I started something of my own.
My training as a research scientist, i.e. my Ph.D. in Computer Science, helped me get into software development. Atlanta was a big city and there were always events that exposed me to entrepreneurship. I knew it was for me and that is how I got into startups.
The day I walked the stage to my Ph.D. degree was the same day I moved to India. I started a company that helped people with great ideas to launch those ideas. Instead of becoming an offshore outsourcing company, we came in as technical partners who took equity in the final product. We built a number of products under this model.
Start an automated management consulting business
Akhil Suresh Nair started Xena Intelligence by Parzenn Partners, which sells automated management consulting and is making $20,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 2 co-founders and has 0 employees.
I had a couple of years of experience working for a large corporation back in India. I genuinely felt that I was just a cog in the wheel and that whatever I did had little to no impact in the real world.
We were at a crossroads at that time – filled with constant self-doubt about the career path we wanted to take. We could have easily applied for corporate jobs in the US or in India, but we chose to follow our hearts by continuing to work in our consulting business.
I reached out to a few small businesses I had developed good relationships during my corporate career and started helping them out on developing marketing strategy to scale their businesses and also to instill robust operational efficiencies in their business processes. I realized that I was able to add considerable value to their businesses and that I felt a sense of satisfaction in being able to make their lives better. I soon started consulting for over 20 small businesses in India.
Start a project management training courses business
Praveen Malik started PM-by-PM, which sells project management training courses and is making $17,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 2 employees.
I had an entrepreneurial bug right from my college days. I dabbled into a few businesses while working as an employee but did not see much success.
Before venturing into my current business, I worked in diverse business environments viz. product development, services & support, product-oriented services, and software as a service. I traveled extensively and was exposed to many different cultures. I worked and interacted with clients from different geographies viz. USA, Europe, and India.
I gained expertise in project management through my work.
Start a personal finance blog business
Pardeep Goyal started Cash Overflow, which sells personal finance blog and is making $10,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 7 employees.
I worked in an IT company from 2006 to 2013 and lived in the US for 2 years. I was getting paid well but unhappy with the work culture. I returned back to India, left my job and started a small software company by investing all my savings.
My startup failed with a loss of over $20,000 and I lost the motivation to join back the job. I started taking up freelance writing work to pay my monthly bills and started a blog to practice whatever I was learning about digital marketing in 2015.
I never thought that CashOverflow would ever make any money. I was just sharing my personal finance hacks on my blog, those worked for me to manage my finances in my bad time.
Start an online excel training business
Sumit Bansal started TrumpExcel.com, which sells online excel training and is making $10,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 1 employee.
I was working with a tech company in 2013 and my day-to-day work included crunching a lot of data in spreadsheets and creating reports and dashboards from it. I was learning a lot about spreadsheets through other Excel blogs and Youtube videos.
It was a huge learning curve for me and I made a lot of mistakes. I invested hours everyday learning. I didn’t make any money for 16 months, but I consistently pushed out content and videos. I was getting traffic and was also collecting email subscribers
One day, my co-worker mentioned a book called The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, which is about the stories of people who were making money through their expertise. It also included two stories of people who were making money through their Excel blog and freelance practice. I immediately ordered the book and read it.
Start a search-led conversions business
Lakshdeep Rajput started SearchTap, which sells search-led conversions and is making $10,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 1 co-founder and has 30 employees.
I ran an IT consulting company with my co-founder. The idea came to us after working for a client with whom we had done a complex search integration. When we couldn’t find a solution that would be a good fit for them in terms of features, functionality, and budget, we decided to build one ourselves.
During this time we also had the opportunity to connect with a few eCommerce store owners and some things stood out to me in these discussions. The first one is that many of these stores were not able to optimize their search due to a lack of expertise. Then the second one is that the few solutions present in the market are not financially viable.
We used these two learnings as the cornerstones of SearchTap. We realized that designing a search experience wasn’t enough and we had to reach out to people to show them how they can derive the maximum value from our product.
Start a designer hygiene product business
Mano Manoharan started AMANO Tongue Cleanser, which sells designer hygiene product and is making $5,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 5 co-founders and has 1 employee.
My career started out pretty conventional … qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young (EY) in the 1980s and then heading into Blue-Chip land.
Albeit this was the Film and Music sector, doing accounting work but in a slightly surreal environment, where famous Directors, Actors, and Pop Stars would drift around the offices.
I ended up in the marketing department of EMI Records (known as Capitol Records in the States). Moving from finance to a general management role, where I got the chance to really hobnob with the likes of Iron Maiden (once even playing darts with the band in a pub on Sunset Boulevard), Heart, Pink Floyd and the Pet Shop Boys.
Start a visitor management system business
Gaurav Saini started Vizitor, which sells visitor management system and is making $2,500 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 1 co-founder and has 8 employees.
I visited Facebook's HQ way back in 2014 and the first time I saw how they were making the visitors’ check-in digitally and the process was really smooth and in the meanwhile, I completed filling my details, my friend Connie was there to receive me at the entrance. In 2017, I used to visit a company office for some project discussions regularly and that time I realized we really need some system in India to automate this lengthy time-consuming process. I then started researching a visitor management system similar to what I saw in Facebook's office and found that there is no such product that caters to India's market with a good price point and customer user experience.
I would encourage all entrepreneurs is to launch their MVP as soon as possible. Once you will give your product in hand of your customers, their feedback and reviews will be valuable to you and help understand the next steps in product development.
Secondly, at the same time, I got an inquiry from my friend's company regarding building a similar product for their new office. So, this came a perfect timing and intuition that I should continue building a product and make it big.
Start a course search engine business
Keyul started Coursesity, which sells course search engine and is making $1,000 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 1 employee.
Three years back, I was preparing for the software engineer interview. During that time, I was searching for online courses that could help me to revise the technical concepts and technologies. In this process, I realized that I spent more time in the searching and comparing courses on various eLearning platforms instead of spending more time on actual learning.
Don’t focus on so many things at once. This will take lots of time and effort. Set 1-2 goals and plan everything that helps you to achieve them. Once these goals have been achieved set the next goals.
After a few months, I was discussing interview preparation with a friend and he explained how frustrated to find a course on some specific subjects. He had a similar experience as me.
Start an internet privacy business
Rajat Vaghani started Snap Search, which sells internet privacy and is making $100 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 0 co-founders and has 1 employee.
So, I moved to Bangalore 5 years ago to pursue my Master's degree in Computers and what a decision it was! It changed my life. In these 5 years, I participated in, won and even conducted my own Hackathons, attended multiple developer fests and conferences, took part in workshops, got a great internship and a very well paid full-time role as well. I also sold 3 of my apps to a startup in the US for some good $$$. But none of that could kill or calm the entrepreneur in me.
I’ve been building, coding, designing, developing since the age of 13, and I’m 25 now, and that’s what I like to do best.
You cannot expect every individual to share the same love for your product as you have. Take the negative and positive feedback and convert it into bettering your product instead.
Start a remote products business
Hrishikesh Pardeshi started Remote Tools, which sells remote products and is making $0 revenue/mo.
They started the business with 2 co-founders and has 5 employees.
At Flexiple, our tech team is geographically distributed and it has worked well for us, as we have been able to find the best talent to work with us. However, it comes with a fair share of challenges. Each time we faced one, we sat down to search and evaluate tools that could help us.
This can be pretty mind-numbing – we couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a central directory of tools that had already been reviewed for remote teams to leverage!
So, we took it upon us and launched the first version of remote.tools – a repository of 100+ handpicked tools & resources in 20+ categories for distributed teams. The product was a great hit, and further also gave us great insight into additional features that could be extremely helpful to the remote community.
Often times, coming up with the right idea can be a daunting task.
If you're looking to come up with an idea and grow your business, check out our step by step guides on how to start a business.