Indian Entrepreneurs Success Stories – Who Started With Nothing

These stories hopefully will inspire you through your startup journey and will keep you motivated.
success stories

With the help of this post, we are sharing you the success stories of  Indian entrepreneurs who successfully started with almost nothing. 

Success Stories of Entrepreneurs which will inspire you.

These stories hopefully will inspire you through your startup journey and will keep you motivated.   (these are not in any specific order or based on specific criteria)

Below Mentioned are Indian Entrepreneurs who started with almost nothing in hand and yet were able to make multi-million companies.

Also Read: 50 Women Entrepreneurs in India Everyone Should Know About in 2019

Sridhar Vembu

CEO of Zoho Corp. (formerly AdventNet Inc.), the company behind the Zoho suite of online applications.

He co-founded AdventNet in 1996 and has been CEO since 2000. AdventNet has transformed itself from a modest beginning as a software company serving network equipment vendors to be an innovative online application provider.


success storiesIt has maintained growth and profitability, without needing outside capital. Prior to AdventNet, Sridhar worked as a wireless systems engineer at Qualcomm, Inc. where he was fortunate to work with some of the leading minds in wireless communications.

Sridhar Vembu’s Zoho competes successfully around the world with some core products of Microsoft, Google, and Vembu shuns outside capital, but if Zoho were to be valued, it might be well over $1 billion.

He grew up in a very modest middle-class family in Chennai. His father was a stenographer in the High Court. Neither his father nor his mother went to college.

He went to a Tamil-medium, government-aided school till Std 10, and then he did 11th and 12th in an English-medium government school.

He did well at school and he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University.

Dr.Arokiaswamy Velumani

Thyrocare’s Velumani: Owns no car, lives in a small quarter, but helms a Rs 1,320-crore company.

Velumani doesn’t own a car. He makes do with small living quarters above his large lab in Navi Mumbai but still ends up sleeping in the lab most nights.

Born to a poor landless farmer in a nondescript and obscure village of Appanickenpatti Padur in Tamil Nadu, Arokiaswamy Velumani found himself at the bottom of the ‘ten slices of the pyramid’.

Dr.Arokiaswamy Velumani

Velumani was so poor that he sought government subsidy to go through school and college.

Today, he is the owner of the world’s largest thyroid testing company, that boasts of 1,122 outlets across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Middle East!

He started his career as a shift chemist at Gemini Capsules, a small pharmaceutical company in Coimbatore, in 1979 and earned a measly sum of ₹150 every month. The curtains came down on the company three years later and Velumani found himself without a job.

After 14 years of servitude at BARC, Velumani put in his papers. He decided to channel his expertise in thyroid biochemistry to set up testing labs that detected thyroid disorders. With Rs. 1,00,000 from his provident fund, Velumani, at the age of 37, opened a shop in Byculla, South Mumbai.

Thyrocare is worth ₹3,377 crores (in May 2016 ) and has made its debut on Indian bourses! Velumani owns a 64% stake in the company, which makes him worth ₹2,158 crores!

But it doesn’t end there for Velumani and his team. Thyrocare is also working towards developing a subsidiary to focus on cancer screening through molecular imaging.

Read Full Journey here

Mahesh Gupta Chairman Kent RO Systems

A mechanical engineer started in 1985, from a small room in his house with just 20,000 which he had saved from his job with IOCL.

His first invention was in the field of petroleum conservation instrument where he earned fame and half a dozen patents to his credit.

His turning point came with the establishment of KENT RO SYSTEM in the year 1998 when he charted out on a new enterprise after jaundice gripped his son in a posh colony of South Delhi.

Mahesh Gupta kentKnowing that jaundice is a water-borne disease, Gupta researched and analyzed all the available water purifiers in the market.

He was dissatisfied with available options and decided to make a better quality purifier. After several trials, he made his own water purifier and became confident that is product is good enough to be marketed. “Coming from an engineering background, making my own water purifier was not a difficult task; all I needed to do was export the components. – Mahesh Gupta

The experiment turned into success. And then I thought to bring it out in commercially in the market. I started from scratch with an investment of about 1 lac and a four-member team.

Today Kent has grown a 40% market share in RO mineral and has turnover 580 crore and 2,500 employees.

Kailash Katkar

Born in a small village at Rahimatpur in Maharashtra, Kailash Katkar worked his way to the top to be chairman and CEO of INR 200 Cr business. He is the man behind Quickheal Technologies Pvt Ltd.

kailash khatkar quickheal

He started with a job at a local radio and calculator repair shop and later went ahead in 1990 to start his own calculator repair business.

In 1993 he started a new venture, CAT computer services where around that time his younger brother Sanjay developed a basic model of antivirus software which helped in solving the biggest problem of computer maintenance at that time.

Later in 2007, it was renamed as Quick Heal Technologies. He achieved all this without any formal education.


P C Mustafa ( Coolie’s Son who Set Up 100 Crore Company with just 25,000 )

This is the story of a man who failed in Class 6 but went on to join the Regional Engineering College (now the National Institute of Technology), Calicut and the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore.

P C Mustafa

This is the story of a man who decided to become an entrepreneur and employ people from rural India.

Today, fresh idli and dosa batter made by P C Mustafa’s company ID Fresh reaches homes in Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mangaluru and even Dubai.

Today, we produce around 50,000 kg in our plant. The total investment must be around Rs 4 crore (Rs 40 million) and our revenue is Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion).

When we became a Rs 100 crore company in October 2015, we celebrated in a grand scale. We have grown from producing 10 packets a day in 2005, with just my cousin managing the kitchen, to 50,000 packets a day with 1,100 employees in 10 years.

Full Story here

 Patricia Narayan

She started her career 30 years ago as an entrepreneur, selling eateries from a mobile cart on the Marina beach amidst all odds — battling a failed marriage, coping with her husband, a multiple addicts, and taking care of two kids.

Today, she has overcome the hurdles and owns a chain of restaurants.

” I started my business with just two people. Now, there are 200 people working for me in my restaurants. My lifestyle has changed too. From traveling in a cycle rickshaw, I moved to auto rickshaws and now I have my own car. From 50 paise a day, my revenue has gone up to Rs 2 lakh a day.

successful entrepreneurs in india

The ‘Ficci entrepreneur of the year’ award is the culmination of all the hard work I have put in over the last 30 years. It came as a surprise as this is the first time I have received an award.

Till now, I had no time to think of what I was doing. But the award made me look back and relive the days that passed by. Now, my ambition is to build my Sandeepha brand.”

Advice to young entrepreneurs
Do not ever compromise on quality. Never lose your self-confidence. Believe in yourself and the product you are making. Third, always stick to what you know. When you employ people, you should know what you ask them to do.

[ Source Quora ]

Dhiru Bhai Ambani

India’s largest private sector company. Created an equity cult in the Indian capital market.

Reliance is the first Indian company to feature in the Forbes 500 list. Dhirubhai Ambani was the most enterprising Indian entrepreneur.

His life journey is reminiscent of the rags to riches story. He is remembered as the one who rewrote Indian corporate history and built a truly global corporate group.

Dhirubhai Ambani alias Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani was born on December 28, 1932, at Chorwad, Gujarat, into a Modh family. His father was a school teacher. Dhirubhai Ambani started his entrepreneurial career by selling “bhajias” to pilgrims in Mount Girnar over the weekends.

After doing his matriculation at the age of 16, Dhirubhai moved to Aden, Yemen. He worked there as a gas-station attendant, and as a clerk in an oil company. He returned to India in 1958 with Rs 50,000 and set up a textile trading company.

In 1992, Reliance became the first Indian company to raise money in global markets, its high credit-taking in international markets limited only by India’s sovereign rating. Reliance also became the first Indian company to feature in the Forbes 500 list.

Dhirubhai Ambani was named the Indian Entrepreneur of the 20th Century by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). A poll conducted by The Times of India in 2000 voted him “greatest creator of wealth in the century”.

Dhirubhai Ambani died on July 6, 2002, at Mumbai.


Karsanbhai Patel – Man behind NIRMA

The ‘Nirma’ success story of how an Indian Entrepreneur took on the big MNCs and rewrote the rules of business :

successful entrepreneurs
It was in 1969 that Dr. Karsanbhai Patel started Nirma and went on to create a whole new segment in the Indian domestic detergent market.

During that time the domestic detergent market only had the premium segment and there were very few companies, mainly the MNCs, which were into this business.

Karsanbhai Patel used to make detergent powder in the backyard of his house in Ahmedabad and then carry out door to door selling of his hand made product.

He gave a money-back guarantee with every pack that was sold. Karsanbhai Patel managed to offer his detergent powder for Rs. 3 per kg when the cheapest detergent at that time was Rs.13 per kg and so he was able to successfully target the middle and lower-middle-income segment.

Sabki Pasand Nirma!

Nirma became a huge success and all this was a result of Karsanbhai Patel’s entrepreneurial skills.

The best case of – Give your consumer what he wants, when he wants, where he wants and at the price he wants, selling will be done quite automatically. This is the marketing ‘mantra’ of Nirma.

The company that was started in 1969 with just one man who used to deliver his product from one house to the other, today employs around 14 thousand people and has a turnover of more than $ 500 million.

In 2004 Nirma’s annual sales were as high as 800000 tonnes. According to Forbes in 2005 Karsanbhai Patel’s net worth was $640 million and it’s going to touch the $1000 million mark soon.

Prem Ganapathy – The Dosawala

Prem Ganapathy was stranded at the Bandra station when the person accompanying him left him and ran away. Prem had no local acquaintances or knowledge of the language.

Out of pity, a fellow Tamilian guided him to a temple and appealed worshipers to contribute money for his return ticket to Chennai.

success stories

Prem refused to go back and decided to work in Mumbai and started cleaning utensils in a restaurant. He appealed to his owner, to let him become a waiter as he was class 10 pass. The owner refused, because of regional politics and Prem bided his time till a neighborhood dosa restaurant opened and offered him a job from a dishwasher to a tea boy.

Prem became a huge hit with the customers because of his excellent customer service, initiatives, and relationship and brought business Rs. 1000 daily which was almost 3 times as compared to other tea boys. Life was good.

A customer made him an offer. He was planning to open a tea shop in Vashi in Mumbai. He wanted Prem to be his 50 – 50 partner where the owner would invest the money while Prem would run the shop. The shop started doing brisk business when the owner became greedy.

It hurt him to share 50 % of the profit with Prem and he threw Prem out replacing him with an employee.

Prem was made of different material and he was never going to be defeated. He took a small loan from his uncle and with his brother, opened his own tea stall. Unfortunately, the neighborhood residents objected. He then started a hand cart but that also did not work out.

Read Also: How to become an Entrepreneur in India 

He found a spot and set up a south Indian stall. He did not know a thing about dosas and idli but learned by observation, trial, and error. The dosa stall was a huge hit and flourished during the 5 years from 1992-1997. But why was the tiny dosa stall was so successful in spite of competition from ubiquitous eateries prevalent in Mumbai? According to Prem, it was its hygiene, proper appearances of the waiters and fresh ingredients which stood out as a difference.

He saved a couple of lakhs of Rupees and instead of heading home he took the biggest risk of his life and opened a new shop near Vashi station and named it Dosa Plaza. His Chinese plaza next to the Dosa Plaza flopped miserably and was shut down in 3 months.

Undaunted, Prem realized some lessons from it. He applied those lessons in making Chinese cuisine in his dosas which worked very well.

He got passionate and invented a variety of dosas with Chinese style like American Chopsuey, Schezwan Dosa, Paneer chilly, Spring roll dosa, etc. The 108 types of Dosas in his menu gets him a lot of publicity.

A chance encounter with a customer who was part of the team setting up a food court in a mall in New Bombay advised him to take a stall at the food court and again Prem was ready and willing to grow and expand. His vision was to grow by better offerings and better customer service. He also went to ad agencies to create the brand identity including the logo, brands, menu card, waiters dress etc.

He started getting a lot of offers for franchising and had to find out the meaning of franchising and its modus operandi. Dosa Plaza currently has 26 outlets and 5 of them are company-owned. It has 150 employees and a turnover of 5 crores. All the branches are connected and networked and there are training managers and proper manuals to maintain standard and uniform products and services.

Merit is the only criteria; all the employees regardless of the caste or region are treated equally. They are loyal and have grown with the company. The original team of cooks which was the part of the first Dosa venture is still with Prem. Currently, he is also getting inquiries from the US and Europe for franchisees.

Jyothi Reddy

This has been proved by Mrs. Jyothi Reddy with her spectacular travel from a field laborer to the CEO of an organization in the US.

This is the true story of Ms. Jyothi Reddy who now owns a software company in the United States of America and who has a great vision to change many lives of women in rural India.

successful entrepreneurs in india

Jyothi was born in 1970 and she was the youngest among the five girl children in a poor family in India. Due to her family’s financial situation, she was admitted into a welfare orphanage.
To get the admission, she had to become a motherless child.

It was a heartbreaking situation for Jyothi as she could not see her mother during the days when she was in the orphanage. There was nobody to share her happiness and sorrow.

Instead of getting down with the situation, Jyothi developed a strong will to make her future bright. She promised herself to work towards creating a better life for her.

She learned the way of dealing with life in a hard and practical manner. The hardship taught her the value of life and made her think beyond the situation.

Read Full story here

Ramesh Babu, the barber who owns a Rolls Royce

Bangalore resident Ramesh Babu, is a star in his own league who runs the business of cutting and styling hair. He is an ordinary businessman, with extraordinary wealth. He is a billionaire and owns a rent-a-car fleet of 67 alternative cars.

entrepreneurs in india

At the moment his fleet consists of around 200 cars, vans, and mini-buses, including imported vehicles—a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Mercedes C, E and S class and BMW 5, 6 and 7 series. He has a fleet of imported Mercedes vans and Toyota mini-buses.

“This is more of a passion,” he says. As for being a barber, “I will continue to be one as long as my hands are healthy.”

Amazingly, Ramesh charges Rs 75000 a day for the Rolls and his usual clients are corporate bigwigs and visiting Bollywood and Tollywood stars.

Read Full Story Here

Nitin Godse

Godse hails from a poor family of a farmer based out of Akole village from Ahmednagar district, where he recalls his father earning a meager monthly wage of Rs. 400
He worked hard and did graduation and later an MBA course in 1994-96 from Pune University.

success stories of entrepreneursNitin laid the foundation of Excel Gas and Equipments Pvt Ltd on 31 December 1999.

Ranked as one of the top 5 companies, the company specializes in on-site piping and tubing installations, subcontracting, supplying a variety of onsite services like pipe and tube supply and fitting, on-site manual welding, orbital welding, helium leak check, instruments supply and erection, and such others.

The turnover of the company is touching Rs 50 crores and the company has 200 employees on its own payroll.

Excel Gas plans to install 20 gas plants in 4-5 cities by 2016-17 with an investment of Rs 100 crores.


I hope you find this post about ” successful Indian entrepreneurs who started with nothing and then made an empire” useful and inspiring. if you have a story like this please share with us via comments.

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