Business Today

Spot on, mostly

Rahul Sachitanand        Print Edition: June 26, 2011

HITS

Ikya Human Capital
Profiled in 2008
Serial entrepreneur Ajit Isaac's latest venture remains on the fast track. It has made three acquisitions and expanded its portfolio to encompass executive search, recruitment solutions, staffing services and recruitment process outsourcing. Today Ikya has 20 offices, works with 400 companies and helped place over 20,000 people last year. "We will have nearly Rs 700 crore in revenues, and we want to consolidate our gains this year with a focus on productivity, service quality and margin improvement," says Isaac. Ikya recently sealed a deal with the Ministry of Rural Development to train 8,000 people. Says Isaac: "We want to be market leaders."

Flipkart's Sachin (L) and Binny Bansal
Flipkart's Sachin (L) and Binny Bansal
Flipkart
Profiled in 2009
The shining success of India's e-commerce industry, Flipkart, has grown beyond books. Now, the challenge is to rapidly grow its low-margin electronics goods business and make profits outside of books. "Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal make a team that understands customer delight, logistics and operations, as well as they do technology. That is what has consistently made a difference," says Subrata Mitra of Accel, an investor in the firm.

Inbiopro's Chatterjee (L) and Kavitha Rodrigues
Inbiopro's Chatterjee (L) and Kavitha Rodrigues
Inbiopro
Profiled in 2009
In late 2010, Sohang Chatterjee and Kavitha Rodrigues, founders of the Bangalore-based biotech firm Inbiopro faced a tough choice. Their business was growing so fast they were short of funds to sustain the momentum. Ultimately, they decided to sell their company to Strides Arcolab, a Bangalorebased drugmaker for Rs 65 crore, payable over three years. "We got a good deal from Strides," says Chatterjee. "We run the company independently. There is little interference from Strides on a day-today basis." While the deal gave Strides access to eight molecules with a targetable market of $28 billion, for the Inbiopro founders, it was also a validation of their lucrative business model.

Nova Medical Centres
Profiled in 2010
The pioneer of day surgeries - or surgeries so planned that the patient is released on the same day without stay overnight in hospital - in India has been doing very well indeed, and is well on course to meet its target of 25 centres by the end of 2012. Nova Medical Centres now has four locations, having opened its first unit in Delhi in February and another in Mumbai a month later, apart from the two original ones at Bangalore. "We plan to be in 10 cities by the end of this year," Suresh Soni, Chairman and CEO, said at the opening of the Mumbai unit. "Nova's compact footprint and unique operating model is designed for rapid scaling up."

Waterlife India
Profiled in 2010
With the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation buying a five per cent stake in it in March 2011, there is no looking back for Waterlife. This Hyderabad-based start-up installs and operates mini water-purification plants in rural areas. It has so far put up over 1,200 such plants which provide clean drinking water to 1.2 million people. "In the past year, we have grown five-fold and plan to maintain this momentum this year, too," says Sudesh Menon, CEO. It expects to reach 30 million people by 2014.

MISSES


Guruji's Dod (L) and Mishra
Guruji's Dod (L) and Mishra
Guruji
Profiled in 2007
Not every Internet enterprise is a money spinner. Guruji, a Bangalore-based local search engine, is discovering just how tough life can be on the web. In 2008, Gaurav Mishra quit the firm he founded with Anurag Dod. Since then Guruji has struggled as global giants led by Google, MSN and Yahoo entered its core market. Dod declined to comment on the firm's position.

OnYoMo
Profiled in 2010
Local search is a fast-growing category on the web, but it is conventional companies such as Asklaila rather than specialised mobile ones like OnYoMo which consumers seem to prefer. OnYoMo has struggled to cope with the fast-changing market. Though many of its local search queries come from the hinterland, OnYoMo does not have a database large enough to cover these locations. "The key to local search is the quality of data," says Kiran Konduri, Co-Founder of Asklaila. Clearly, an upgrade is in order for OnYoMo.

Meritnation's Pavan Chauhan (in green)
Meritnation's Pavan Chauhan (in green)
Meritnation
Profiled in 2010
Meritnation, which once ranked among the top sites visited by Indians, has faded away. Santee Bikhchandani, an investor in the firm, as well as an early entrepreneur in India's Internet market, defends the portal, saying while Meritnation, which provides online study material, may have missed its revenue targets by a year, it has a sound long-term growth plan. "It is delivering on its early promise," he says. "Early-stage businesses are unpredictable. (But) we are happy with the traction that the business is now getting."

Invention Labs

Profiled in 2010
Market realities for start-ups mean some products will fail while some others will be massive successes," says Ajit Narayanan, founder of this Chennaibased provider of products localised for the Indian market. However, the truth is Invention Labs has been struggling to maintain its momentum and at least three forthcoming products have been scrapped. "We are ahead of where we wanted to be," maintains Narayanan. "Avaz, our product which helps convert limited muscle movements into speech, has been a runaway success." But the firm has not closed any funding yet, and investors are not knocking on its door either. "We can manage on our own funds," counters Narayanan.

Sresta National Bioproducts
Profiled in 2010
The Secunderabad-based organic food firm has fallen well short in its ambition to be a Rs 100 crore company. Its core market has been slow to take off. In a price-sensitive market, its organic produce is moving slowly. 24 Letter Mantra, Sresta's specialist organic food store, has also found the going tough and has had to rethink expansion plans. A slowdown in its focus markets of North America and Europe has made matters worse. Founder Raj Seelam, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, could not be reached for comments.

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