25 January, 2021

25 New Businesses In 25 Years

A quarter of a century ago, we heard about these businesses. Or possibly not. Today, we cannot do without them. These are brands we now buy, sell, eat, sleep, talk to, and in love with...

25 New Businesses In 25 Years

The search is on

Although there were emails and search engines before 1995, this wasn’t the case in India because we got the internet in 1995. Most of us, therefore, are the children of Google, which is possibly the most powerful corporate empire now. Apart from search and email, it is a storehouse of vast information, and knowledge. And now with machine learning and AI, we have our personalised Alexa, who can switch on and off several things.

Wireless world

Although the mobile revolution began before 1995, it took off after the 1999 policy, and more specifically in this century with the use of data. Today, most Indians have a mobile handset, and they can do almost everything with a touch. Apart from the service providers, manufacturing boomed. Samsung, LG, Nokia and Bharti Infratel are some big names in the segment. From two companies in 2014, India is now the second-largest mobile production hub in the world. The target is to make a billion handsets by 2025.

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The apps that zap

WillowTree Apps, Fueled and Hyperlink InfoSystem are a few dominant Indian app developers. According to estimates, revenue in the segment may be $230 million this year. Experts predict the market to grow annually by 13%, with a projected market of $461 million by 2024. Today, we have an app for almost everything, and our lives seem impossible without them. Most handsets come with preloaded software, and we carry them comfortably in our pockets.

Internet of things

Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea are the top three internet service providers. The internet subscriber base touched 743 million, according to the telecom regulator.Government plans to connect six lakh villages through broadband. Today, access to the internet is not merely a private affair. Most public places, including airports and railway stations, allow free accessibility. However, digital divide is a concern, especially among women and the poor.

Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari

Games we play

India is the second-largest gaming market behind China. With almost 300 million gamers, the market was worth $890 million in 2019. Octro, Nazara Technologies, Dream11 and 99Games are some of the largest companies in India. There was a time when we had to go to the video parlours to play them. Now, we sit in our living rooms and bedrooms, and are hooked to online and offline games. We play not only against machines, but humans located across the world.

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Despite being locked down, we shopped like mad. E-commerce giants such as Amazon, Flipkart, IndiaMart and Myntra laughed their way to the banks­.

Shift in Power

Acme Solar, Adani, Greenkoand Semcorp top the list of India’s largest renewable power producers, notably solar and wind. The industry received a boost when the government set a target of adding 175 Gigawatt generation capacity by 2022. The current installed capacity is close to 90 GW. With various incentives, equipment manufacture will grow at a considerable pace. Globally, visible climate change has forced nations to move towards renewable power.


The fintech market, valued at Rs 1.9 lakh crore in 2019, is expected to more than treble by 2025. As financial inclusiveness is the buzz phrase, and the Centre hopes to race ahead, fintech companies will play a crucial role in financial services. They will prove to be the key if important services have to reach the larger pool of people. According to Nasscom, there are 400 fintech firms in the country, and there is a growing interest among foreigners to invest in this segment.

Photograph by Soumik Kar

From P to E

The current pandemic helped a lot of us to re-discover the charms and ease of e-commerce. Despite being locked down, we shopped like mad. E-commerce giants such as Amazon India, Flipkart, IndiaMart and Myntra laughed their way to the banks­—and several times over. In 2018, the segment registered a turnover of Rs 3.55 lakh crore, which is expected to cross Rs 10 lakh crore by 2024. Over the next few years, the greater convergence between retail and mobile, not just B2C but B2B will further revolutionise the segment.

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Who wants to buy a car?

Not as many of us as a few years ago. Today, it seems easier to hail, sorry nail, a cab through an app. Ola and Uber, the largest cab aggregators, dominate the market valued at Rs 2,900 crore in 2019. The market is anticipated to grow to Rs 6,159 crore by 2024. More smartphones, improved high-speed connectivity, and investments by foreigners will accelerate growth. In fact, a policy-maker recently said that the sales of cars plunged because of the Uber-Ola factor.

There’s always food

Gone are the days when we freaked out if friends decided to visit us. Those were the days, when Magi was the parents’ saviour to feed their ever-hungry children. Now, just order anything you want, whenever you wish to, from Swiggy, Zomato and Uber Eats. Rapid digitisation is expected to help the online food industry to clock a $12 billion market by 2025, a growth at a compounded annual rate of 20-35%. Time for another snack!

Long live brick-n-mortar

E-commerce was meant to kill physical retail. Well, it did too in several segments. But the past couple of decades witnessed the huge growth of large-format retail with dazzling and sprawling malls. In multi-brand retail, the big names include RPG Group, Reliance Retail and,  and Aditya Birla. The segment contributes almost 5% to the retail sector,which is estimated to reach $1.1-1.3 trillion by 2025. The FDI policy helped a boom in single-brand retail, and the segment is expected to grow by 20-25 per cent in the near future. Apple announced plans to open its first retail store in 2021, and IKEA generated revenue of Rs 407 crore in FY19 from its first store in Hyderabad.

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Home in theatre, theatre at home

At multiplexes, like Inox or PVR, you can choose from among several movies, opt for a business-class lounge, and expect someone to come and take your orders during intermission. The number of multiplex screens crossed 3,000 in 2019 across India, a 300% growth within a decade. The segment is projected to grow at a compund annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 7% to 4,500 screens by 2024. At the same time, you can sit at home, and watch your favourite movie on OTTs. This market boomed during the pandemic, and is part of the ‘new normal’.

No need to run for cover

Over the past 25 years, the insurance business has changed. Third party insurance and insurance broking have grown rapidly. Today, there are 23 players in the former area, and 468 brokers in the latter one. The brokers collected premiums worth Rs 37,200crore in 2019. Aditya Birla, Edelweiss Gallagher, Global Insurance Brokers and Marsh India are a few big names.

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Cash, the joker in the pack

UPI transactions in April 2020 stood at Rs 1,511 billion for retail payments and are likely to grow at a 15% CAGR. Paytm, Razorpay, Google Pay, PayPal and MobiKwik are a few frontline payment gateway companies in India. Demonetisation and efforts to push people to stay away from cash have given the industry a boost. Forget plastic, forget ATMs, and don’t even think about visits to the banks. The new groovy consumers are the ones who pay by the taps of their fingers.

The internet changed the manner in which students prepared for entrance exams. COVID-19 may, perhaps, change the way everyone studies.

CAT at my entrance

The internet changed the manner in which students prepared for entrance exams. COVID-19 may perhaps change the way everyone studies. The market for online education, which was $14.33 billion during 2020 may ‘Zoom’ over the next few years. Like students, teachers will need to be tech-savvy and re-learn a lot of things. BYJU’s, Unacademy, Toppr and Vedantu are significant players in the sector. However, if online education in regular schools and colleges catches on, newer ones will emerge. Long-distance education can come closer to us.

Band, baja, baraat

Among the rich middle classes, there is a tendency to turn any event into a lavish affair. It seems that families wait for an excuse to throw money to entertain relatives and friends on a grand scale. Of such organised and outsourced events, the biggest segment is, of course, weddings. Including planners and specialised vendors, the market was estimated at Rs 50,000 crore in 2018. Shaadi Squad, The Wedding Design Company, Wedniksha and Seven Stepsare are known names. Movies and serials like Band, baja, baraat and Wedding Season have added to the appetite.

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Long-awaited business

More than a decade ago, there was excitement about  centres, BPOs and KPOs. The enthusiasm has stemmed a bit, but such outsourced operations have become huge. The global BPO market is slated to grow  but the Indian BPO market revenues may drop 9 per cent to $7.9 billion in 2020 compared to last year due to disruptions caused by Covid-19. Big names in this segment include Accenture, TCS, Capgemini, Cognizant Technology, Genpact and Infosys.

Big is best

This is the era of ‘big data’ and data analytics. As more companies, including governments, collect data at an unprecedented pace, India’s data centre sector has made rapid strides. Analysts predict the current capacity to treble in the next four-five years. Over the past three years, $4-5 billion investments were announced. CtrlS, ESDS, GPX Global Systems Inc., Sify Technologies and Tata Communications are a few large players. Anything you do, in fact, everything that you do, is now monitored, stored, and analysed. You cannot expect the eyes in the skies.

The social dilemma

Indians adapted to social media like fish to water. Hundreds of millions spend billions of hours every day to glean through WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram. They reach for such texts and videos the first thing in the morning, and this is their last act before they sleep. Now, there are several Indian social media Apps, which will become larger because of the ban on the Chinese ones. In addition to these trends, social media advertising in the country is expected to touch Rs 17,500 crore by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 28%.

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Please, plan my trip

Experts predict the travel booking market in India—in which OTAs have a 40-45% share,and The market has grown at a CAGR of 10-12% in the past eight years–will touch $45-50 billion by 2023. Goibibo, EaseMyTrip, Yatra, and MakeMyTrip are some of the familiar names in this space. Gone are the days when one had to stand in queues to book tickets, or go through agents. Today, you can compare prices, and even select the seats. Along with this, the hospitality business has transformed. Oyo, home-stays, and Airbnb allow you to book places to stay.

No chemicals in my food

India’s organic food market was valued at $849.5 million in 2019. It is likely to achieve 20% CAGR and become a $2.6 billion segment in 2025.Growing incidences of food adulteration and increased health awareness fuelled demand for organic foods. Players in the industry are Suminter India Organics, Nature Bio-Foods, Organic India and Sresta Natural Bioproducts. Organic is in, like being vegetarian and vegan. However, organic is expensive too.


Mars calling

ISRO’s Gaganyaan, India’s planned mission to take humans in space, will open commercial opportunities in the space sector. It offers international tourism possibilities. According to ISRO, human beings can colonise the Moon and Mars in the future. Well, instead of looking for extraterrestrial intelligence, we may emerge as one going into space.

Spark in your car

Experts believe the electric vehicle market in India could become a Rs 500 billion opportunity by 2025. With pollution on the rise, EV may become a necessity rather than a luxury. Tata Motors, Mahindra Electric, Hyundai, Hero Electric and  Kia Motors are fighting each other for higher market share. But there are still a few challenges.

Thin is in

From bulky desktops to laptops, which became thinner by the year, and Macs (MacAir). And along the way, we had tablets, iPads and Kindle. The storage devices went through several avatars. From large hard discs to memory sticks, and to iPods and others. Today, some mobiles are as powerful as any laptop. The way we work, our work desks have transformed.

Vanished and vanquished

The 24 businesses listed above were of those that emerged, grew, and became a part of our lives over the past 25 years. But this may also be an opportune time to list out a few things that died, the items that were a part of our earlier lives. The black telephone, typewriter to some extent, large over-sized radios, Ambassador and Fiat, although a few can still be spotted on the roads, black-and-white Tv sets (does anyone have one anymore), and floppy discs.


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