Top 6 Indian Entrepreneurs With Unconventional Backgrounds

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“High risks come with High rewards”, and that is what the entrepreneurship journey is all about. We have often been told to live a conventional life, follow the old norms, be a good fit for society, but there are some who choose not to follow the ordinary path and make their own, surpassing everyone in the blink of an eye. Many new-age entrepreneurs are embodiments of the philosophy of carving your own path, despite all the obstacles; they prefer to follow their passion and make connections with like-minded people and get on with their journey challenging the status quo.

Increasingly many Indians are chasing the entrepreneurship dream; 11% of the adult Indian population is engaged in entrepreneurial activities. Among these, there are some who pivoted out from their initial learnings and took the unconventional route to entrepreneurship. Below we list Top 6 such entrepreneurs with unconventional backgrounds who made it big:

1. Falguni Nayar, CEO, NYKAA

Falguni Nayar - The Founder of Nykaa
Nykaa, India’s biggest fashion and lifestyle portal, is a creation of Mumbai-based, India’s first self-made female billionaire entrepreneur Falguni Nayar. After serving 20 years as an investment banker with Kotak Mahindra, she suddenly announced her departure to pursue her dream. Nykaa was founded in 2012; capitalising on the scope of beauty and skincare products online, Nykaa created history.

Falguni Nayar is associated with one of the top B-schools in India, IIM Ahmedabad. She has been honoured by ‘Businesswoman of the Year’ at the Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence 2019, for her contribution to the Indian beauty industry, and the ‘Woman Ahead’ award at the Economic Times Startup Awards in 2017. With the Nykaa IPO creating a buzz in the sharemarket, She has marked her presence in Indian Startups history and is truly a real-life example of “Age is just a number”.

2. Tarun Joshi, CEO, JOIN VENTURES

Tarun Joshi
An imminent tech entrepreneur once said “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once” and Founder of Join Ventures, Tarun Joshi, has been right not just once or twice but multiple times in his career. A man of many talents, Tarun has donned several different hats in his entrepreneurial journey.

An alumnus of PEC, Chandigarh and ISB, Hyderabad, Tarun started out as an aeronautical scientist with DRDO, where he played a crucial role in designing the flight control systems for India’s first supersonic fighter aircraft – Tejas, which was introduced in the service in July 2016. After playing an integral role in designing the fighter plane – Tejas, he joined global banking firm Citi to lead innovation, where he designed World’s first biometric ATM. In 2008, Tarun moved on to the private equity sector and established himself as an investor with the world’s leading private equity firms (3i and CVCI), where he managed investments worth half a billion USD in India. In 2016, he started after acquiring IndianGiftsPortal; in 2018, he started and in 2020, Tarun founded Join Ventures, House of D2C brands for celebrations, which now owns and operates, India’s largest D2C platform for occasions,, India’s largest D2C brand for premium flowers, and Masqa, a D2C brand for Indulgent foods. The company has a user base of over 100 million visitors in more than 100 countries across its portfolio.

From helping build Tejas to private equity to an ambitious businessperson, Tarun has taken many routes to entrepreneurship, and now he aspires to serve every special occasion and celebratory moment across India.

3. Shariq Plasticwala, Founder & CEO, Kafqa Academy

Shariq Plasticwala, Founder & CEO, Kafqa Academy
“Allow your passion to become your profession, and it will lead to your purpose”. Shariq Plasticwala justifies this better than anyone. An IIT Bombay graduate in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and an alumnus of Stanford Business School, Shariq has a lot of big letters written after him. After coming back to India from the US, he started his career with Amazon. In the span of over 5 years, Shariq played an important part in Amazon India; they launched and, he became the Director and Board member of Amazon Pay, achieving milestones and creating history.

Apart from doing what he was good at, Shariq has also had a keen interest in performing arts since his school days. He used to take part in school plays and engage in theatre activities during his college time. Shariq kept his passion for performing arts alive and took the life-changing decision of launching a performing arts academy, Kafqa Academy. With expertise and a proven track record of building technology-enabled customer experience and marketplaces from the ground up and experience with performing arts has attracted notable investment and strong talent to Kafqa Academy, leading to a unique mix of performing arts experts and technology talent with significant experience. With Kafqa Academy, Shariq aims to uplift artists in the performing arts to the largest stages in the world.

4. Deepak Sahni, Founder & CEO, Healthians

Deepak Sahni

A self-taught serial entrepreneur who loves disruption for good, Deepak Sahni used his decade’s worth of experience in IT and Healthcare Marketing to build a new-age diagnostic business, Healthians – a health tech startup doing the innovative disruption in the healthcare diagnostic space.

An entrepreneur with a passion for new-age diagnostics, Sahni’s Healthians is a technology-driven healthcare ser­vice that offers pathology testing, advice and consultation for screening, monitoring and check-up. Founded in 2015, the company currently owns and operates through a network of over 30 government-certified labs and is expanding swiftly. At present, Healthians is amongst India’s leading ‘health test at home’ service providers. Deepak’s envisions adding 10 healthy years to every Indian’s life through Healthians and is working towards bringing healthcare diagnostics to the doorstep of every Indian.

5. Deep Kalra, Founder, Makemytrip

Deep Kalra

An alumnus of Delhi University who graduated in Economics, Deep worked in the banking sector but soon realised that the sector didn’t suit his aspirations. In the year 2000, he decided to use the immense potential of the web to transform the travel space in India, which was still following the old conventional strategy. He launched MakemyTrip in 2000 to make online travel simpler and helpful.

The journey to entrepreneurship was not a piece of cake; in mid-2001, when Makemytrip was missing adequate financial backers to keep it running, Deep did not lose hope. Deep adapted and continued pushing all the obstacles, establishing one of the most well-known brands in India’s online travel space. Deep Kalra is one of the founders of Ashoka University and is a part of its governing body.

6. Tushar Vashisht, Co-founder & CEO, HealthifyMe

Tushar Vashisht

Another entrepreneur who comes from a distinguished background is the Founder of HealthifyMe, Tarun Vashisht. An alumnus of Delhi College of Engineering, Tushar worked as an analyst in the finance sector before starting his entrepreneurial journey.

In 2012, Tushar, with Mathew Cherian and Sachin Shenoy, spotted an opportunity in growing awareness of Health and fitness in India and started India’s largest fitness platform HealthifyMe. The Health & wellness platform provides services such as calorie tracking, one-on-one nutrition and fitness coaching, and diet and workout plans. Developed for both Android and iOS platforms, the app takes a holistic lifestyle tracking approach to keep users engaged and motivated.