Indian Entrepreneurs: 10 Greatest Businessmen From History

Though entrepreneurship in India isn't new, Indian business has come a long way. There are numerous Indian companies listed on the Fortune 500 and a number of Indian billionaires.

Aspiring businessmen and -women looking for inspiration would do well to study the achievements of India's greatest businessmen. Some on the list are especially inspiring because they managed to make their fortune during British rule, when the environment was not conducive for business and particularly for Indian business. The ones who succeeded in that environment went the extra mile to succeed. This list will give you a broad outline of the amazing journey some of these tycoons took.

Let's go back in history and celebrate the achievements of some of these greats.

1. Dhirubhai Ambani (1932 – 2002)

Business magnate
Business magnate

Dhirubhai Ambani is the most famous businessman in all of India. Even a five-year-old knows about him - or at least will recognize his last name. Ambani's journey took him from his life as a student in the dusty lanes of a small village in Gujarat to the major seaport city of Aden and finally to Bombay where he become the doyen of the Indian industry.

Though he wanted to continue his studies after finishing school, Dhirubhai could not afford to do so. So, he instead went to Aden, Yemen to earn money and improve his financial condition. In Aden he worked as a clerk for a trading firm. In those days, Aden was the second-busiest port in the world, and traders from across the world came here for business. He learned the ins and outs of trading and read every thing that he could lay his hands on.

When British rule in Yemen came to an end, many Indian expatriates went either to Britain in search of better life or came back in India. Dhirubhai choose the latter and started his first business, Majin, with a cousin. He then quickly launched out on his own, founding Reliance Industries in 1966. As of now, the combined fortune of his family tops out at 60 billion dollars, making them one of the wealthiest families in the world. As of 2012, Reliance employs over 85,000 people and is responsible for over 5% of India's tax revenue.

Undoubtedly, he is the most famous Indian businessman of all time.

If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.

— Dhirubhai Ambani

2. Ghanshyam Das Birla (1894 – 1983)


Inheriting his family’s money-lending business, Birla diversified into manufacturing. He moved to Calcutta to establish a textiles business, much to the displeasure of European and British merchants in the area, who did their best to shut Birla’s business down. Birla had to overcome not only resistance from established players but also the biased policies of the British government which discriminated against Bengali traders.

In the 1940s, Birla purchased Hindustan Motors and continued to diversify his business, investing in tea, cement, chemicals, and rayon. He was also the first Indian to found a commercial bank, the United Commercial Bank Limited. Now Aditya Birla group operates in more than 33 countries, employs over 133,000 people and has annual revenues of over $35 billion.

Birla also founded the Birla Engineering College - now the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, which is now one of the nation’s best engineering schools.

3. Ardeshir Godrej (1868 – 1936)

Ardeshir Godrej started out by studying law, but didn't find much success as a lawyer. So, he went to Bombay and worked as an assistant to a chemist. Because of his great business sense of business, he saw everything as a business opportunity.

Taking a loan from his father's friend he started to manufacture medical equipment used in surgery, such as scalpels, surgeon's scissors, forceps, etc. When he was satisfied that the quality of his equipment was world-class, he approached the boss of the company he was working for. His boss thought the equipment was great, but rejected the "Made in India" label, believing that it wouldn't hurt the marketing. Adershir wouldn't budge and the venture never materialized.

Later, one morning he read in the newspaper that burglary rates in Bombay were increasing and that locks weren't working as well as they should. He saw that as a business opportunity and started to research lock making. This venture was so successful he is now known as the lock-master of India.

Then he also made the first soap ever without animal fat: Cinthol, which is still used by millions of people.

The locks made his company famous and now the Godrej group has diversified itself in the business of real estate, appliances, security, FMCG products, etc.

4. Govindram Seksaria (1888 – 1946)

Cotton king of the world
Cotton king of the world

Not many people may know about him, but Govindram Seskaria is the most famous businessman of pre-independence India. At that time, British rule made it difficult for Indians to enter into business. Foreign businesses controlled most of India’s trade and those businesses were in turn supported by the government. But that didn’t deter Govindram. Govindram first joined the Bombay Cotton Exchange and was so successful as a cotton trader that he became known as the Cotton King of the World.

After his success in the cotton market, Govindram diversified and began trading in bullion and other commodities. A founding member of the Indian Stock Exchange, Govindram founded Govindram Brothers Private Limited in 1937. This company got into the sugar, textile, minerals, banking, printing, and movie businesses. In addition to founding the Bank of Rajasthan, he also was a principal donor in establishing Bombay Hospital.

Considering the hostile environment for Indians at the time of British Raj; Govindram is nothing short of a pearl in the ocean.

5. Bhai Mohan Singh (1917 – 2006)

Pioneer of the Indian pharma industry
Pioneer of the Indian pharma industry

Thai Mohan Singh is a pioneering figure in India’s pharmaceutical industry. He began his career in the construction industry, winning contracts to build roads in northeastern India during WWII. After independence, Sing entered into the moneylending business, which is how he came to acquire Ranbaxy from his cousins, after the company defaulted on some loans. Once Singh took over, he partnered with an Italian pharmaceutical company Lapetit Spa, which he later purchased.

In the 1960s, Singh launched an Indian version of valium called Calmpose and went on to release a series of blockbuster drugs. In 1999, Singh was replaced by his eldest son in a boardroom coup. Awarded the Padma Shri for his civic contributions, Singh died in 2006.

6. Jamsetji Tata (1839 – 1904)

Jamshetji Tata is the founder of the Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate which employs more than four lakh people and enjoys revenue of over $83 billion.

He started out by setting up cotton mills in Bombay and then Nagpur. His dream was to set-up an iron and steel company, a science institution, a world-class hotel, and a hydro-electric plant.

He only fulfilled one of these dreams in his lifetime: the Taj Mahal hotel, near the Gateway of India close to the Mumbai shoreline. According to legend he wanted to found a world-class hotel because when he was denied entry to a luxury hotel when he was visiting another country. Now, the Taj Mahal hotel is one of the most renowned in the world.

When you have to give the lead in action, in ideas – a lead which does not fit in with the very climate of opinion – that is true courage, physical or mental or spiritual, call it what you like, and it is this type of courage and vision that Jamsetji Tata showed. It is right that we should honour his memory and remember him as one of the big founders of modern India.

— Jawaharlal Nehru

7. Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (1904 – 1993)

The father of Indian aviation.
The father of Indian aviation.

If Jamsetji Tata started it, then J.R.D. Tata was the one who turned the Tata Group into an incredible success. J.R.D. Tata was also the one who fulfilled Jamsetji's final three wishes. Currently, the Tata Group owns and operates

  • Tata Steel - Asia's first and India's largest steel company. It is also the fifth largest steel company in the world, producing over 28 million tons per year.
  • Indian Institute of Sciences - India's pre-eminent research institution for science and engineering.
  • Tata Power - India's largest private electric power company.

JRD Tata was an aviator and was India's first licensed pilot. He set up India's first commercial airline company known as Tata Airlines in 1932 which was rechristened as Air India in 1946 and is now India's national airline. For his achievement in business he was awarded the highest civilian award of India: Bharat Ratna.

8. Kailash Chandra Mahindra (1894 – 1963)

Sophisticated and meticulous.
Sophisticated and meticulous.

K.C. Mahindra was born in 1894 in the Punjab, the second of nine children. After studying at Cambridge, he worked at Messrs. Martin & Company editing INDIA and the Hindustan Review.

In the 1940s, he went into the energy business, and helped develop the nation’s coal policy by implementing the latest methods of coal mining.

In 1946, he moved to Bombay to found Mahindra & Mohammed, which became an industrial powerhouse in many sectors of the economy. One of the founder was his brother Jagdish Chandra Mahindra and the other one was his close friend Ghulam Mohammad. But after India's partition Ghulam Mohammad went to Pakistan and the company was renamed as Mahindra and Mahindra.He was also director of RBI, Air India, Hindustan Steel, and Chairman of the Indian Aluminum Company.

If J.C Mahindra was the dreamer then K.C Mahindra was the implementer. K.C Mahindra was known for his micro-approach to everything and was a great executor.

9. Verghese Kurien (1921 – 2012)

The man behind the White Revolution of India
The man behind the White Revolution of India

Verghese Kurien used his entrepreneurial skills to enrich not only himself but also all of India. The “Father of the White Revolution,” Kurien planned and implemented Operation Flood, the world’s largest agricultural development program, which turned India into the world’s largest milk producer. He helped make dairy farming a self-sufficient and sustaining industry.

Kurien is also the founder of the Amul brand of dairy products, which invented milk powder processed from buffalo milk rather than cow milk. One of the world’s strongest proponents of cooperative movements, his work has lifted millions of Indians out of poverty.

His birth anniversary is now celebrated as National Milk Day in respect of his great achievements.

10. Walchand Hirachand Doshi (1882 – 1953)


Walchand Hirachand didn't belong to a wealthy family. His father was a small-time money lender but he had set his mind on something bigger. He dreamt big and made that happen.

Simple living and big thinking were Walchand's foremost traits.

He got started first as a railway contractor in partnership with Laxmanroa Phatak who was a railway clerk. Walchand was not content to sit quietly; he was always incredibly ambitious and worked actively to achieve his goals. While a railway contractor, Walchand bought a foundry and then a mining lease. Whatever business he got into, Walchand grabbed it with both hands. However, these decisions didn't sit well with his partner, who wanted to concentrate on a single business rather than diversifying. His partner soon quit.

The original firm found it difficult to get large projects because of its small size so he decided it to merge with the Tata group. Walchand directed and oversaw some of the biggest construction projects of the pre-independence era. The construction company he founded was later naed Premier Construction, with a major stake owned by Tata.

In his later years, he went on to start a shipping company, the Scindia Steam Navigation Company which went on to grab 21% of the Indian coastal traffic. He then went on to found the first Indian aircraft company, the Hindustan Aircraft, first modern shipyard, known as Hindustan Shipyard Limited, and finally first car manufacturing plant, Premier Automobiles.

Who Inspires You the Most?

  • Dhirubhai Ambani
  • Ghanshyam Das Birla
  • Ardeshir Godrej
  • Govindram Seksaria
  • Bhai Mohan Singh
  • Jamsetji Nasarwanji Tata
  • Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata
  • Kailash Chandra Mahindra
  • Verghese Kurien
  • Walchand Hirachand Doshi
See results without voting

More by this Author

Comments 79 comments

ARPAN HAZRA 2 weeks ago


vishnu kant 3 weeks ago

No comments ........................

Pooja shah 8 weeks ago

their efforts and high thinking made them a successful people...simple living high thinking ....which leads to success.....

AFIFA 3 months ago

JRD Tata is one of my inspiration

nareshkhatik 3 months ago

this man great success are that life statuble..

Rupam yadav 3 months ago

What a great person all above these. I SALUT THEM

dinesh shukla 4 months ago

fascinating enterprenures

rani 4 months ago

we are felling very proud about indian good business mens

vikram khatri 4 months ago

The next one is me

Wait for my name also very soon

Tushar patil 4 months ago


amar khurana 5 months ago

proud to be indian,,Inspired by the greatest industrialist of india. all these people are instrumental in giving us the motivation and hope to dream big in life.I solute to all for being instrumental in taking india to new heights in respective fields.

Anand 5 months ago

A very well written article! Definitely inspiring to see how they beat all the odds to become successful.

Thulasi ram.p 7 months ago

Is a great man .I thinking positive and I achieve something .my role model Dhirubhai Ambani.

Rakesh 7 months ago

I love to learn the great businessman from lower to upper level

Sudarshan 10 months ago

All of them I am going to be one of them soon......

vinodkumar 11 months ago

sabka andaaz alag hai..every1 successed within different think different n do diffrnt and be different..

Vinu patidar 11 months ago

Hosale bulande to har kaam aasan lageta hi bus lage raho

Mohit senger 11 months ago

Successful business sirf peso nhi ek ache idea Se successful business banta h....or ek or businessman a rha h Mohit Senger ok

Khumesh 12 months ago

I like all 10 Indian Entrepreneurs: Greatest Businessman From History and his current generation as well and i inspired all of them and i am trying to be

Thanks all Greatest Businessman of history

I salute them

karan mishra 12 months ago

thanks for inspire me ..... i tried all efforts of mine and now i have 3 factories

of plastic and tyres moulding at the age of 27....

Anupam Patra 12 months ago

I love entreprenure . Who take any risk . &any other decision

ALI HUSSAIN 13 months ago

i like 10 successful man

priya kashyap 13 months ago

thank you so much for this information

Vishnu musne 13 months ago

Life me kuch bhi ho sakta hai

shivendra kumar sinha 14 months ago

These all people are inspired to myself...

sudhir chaudhary .ansh. 14 months ago

Thease stories motivate the youngsters and it will make new entrepreneurs...

Mayookh 16 months ago

Marvelous and inspiring indeed.Our indian enterpreneurs did so splendid in business even in a situation when the conditions of the businessmen were deplorable.

rizwan seliya 16 months ago

No comments yar.

What a history yar..

vaibhav 17 months ago

Encourage but comptetion level high, gud business needs more money

Atul yadav 17 months ago

this time very important

kannanwrites profile image

kannanwrites 18 months ago from Mumbai Author

@supreet Thanks for the encouraging word and the visit.

supreet.. 18 months ago

1st time i am giving feedback relating to any article. Really very motivational Article..thanks for posting it..Do Hard work & Hope 4 the best.

sihal 18 months ago

If i earn mony right way that time I part above Team and thanks all articals

Ramprasanth 18 months ago

This peoples are long time india definitely united is tacking in united states of India achieve conform nothing is impossible

amit dargar 18 months ago

इन सभी ने जिंदगी मेँ बहुत मेहनत के साथ ये मुकाम हासिल किया हे लेकिन इस मेहनत के पीछे कहीँ भी शामिल हे जिसे भुलाया नहीँ जा सकता

sarithareddy 18 months ago

all are very great persons

Raj Rathor 18 months ago

Nothing imposible but every thing is possible

Jo socho bo kro aor hr sapna sakar kro, hr icchha ko pura kro aor dunia me apne nam ka jhanda lahra do,,,,,, i am best, successful topno. Businessman,,,,,,, ok uuuuuu

Me raj rathor 2030 last tk puri dunia me apne hi nam ke nare lge ge ek success aor helpful,,,, ",,"",",,,,"

Raj mishra 19 months ago

Good luck .Good Lisan .Good tok

chinna 19 months ago

They made a strong way for upcoming businessman ....

kannanwrites profile image

kannanwrites 20 months ago from Mumbai Author

@Nirav parmar All the best!

Nirav parmar 20 months ago best....and their way I improve my life on new way....I start to try now

kannanwrites profile image

kannanwrites 20 months ago from Mumbai Author

@prasenjeet So true!

prasenjeet 20 months ago

The secret of the world

Inshan Jo sochta hai wahi hota hai

Power of mind

Rajkishore Pradhan 20 months ago

I want to say thanks the person who post this articles because i didn't knew about the backstory of successful entrepreneurs of india. I will be an entrepreneur in future to develop my country economy condition.

jyoti 20 months ago

I like all businessman of World. zindgi aisi Hai Ki Jahan Kuch Bhi impossible Nhi

gopal prajapati 21 months ago

hard work+positive thinking=success

susanta dash 21 months ago

indasterlist is god

MAHENDRA BENIWAL 21 months ago



kannanwrites profile image

kannanwrites 22 months ago from Mumbai Author

@Rajat May all your wishes come true. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Rajat 22 months ago

Hum bhi inhe ke tarah khuch karna chahta hu life me..

Kahate hai na jidhar chah hai udhar rah so..

So Best of Luck Guy's..

satish singh 22 months ago

''They have all redey make history but you are a reader.

NO you can do so think about it because you will be a no-1 business man in the WORLD''

vikram saini 23 months ago

हम भी बनाएगे एक इतिहास ।।।मेक इन इंडिया।। मेड इन इंडिया । मेड फॉर इंडिया।।। जय भारत

shivaji chichakote 23 months ago

jemashedji tata is a father of industrial development, is a very unique personality and im inspired by this .

erorantes profile image

erorantes 23 months ago from Miami Florida

Indian people work a lot to get were they want to go. My respect for the good people that work a lot and respect others. History is made by different people. I am certain that are other successful business people that are not on the list because they were busy working or they did not want to be public. They like their privacy. I like your article.

visha pandey 23 months ago

Sapne or hosle bade hone chahiye kuch kar dikhane ka jajba insan ko uski manjil tak pahuchati hai. I salute all business man n specially salute dhirubhai day I also become successful businessman

kunal 2 years ago

Its inspire me to became like them

kunal 2 years ago

I will next like them

nikki 2 years ago

Great achivement

mukesh kangasiya 2 years ago

This is opportunity to learn about leader of buissnessmam.

m.m.sodha 2 years ago

thinking better ,and i aspire this story become a great business.

quraisholdboys 2 years ago

Salute to all of u

Stab dey 2 years ago

I love Dhlrubhal Ambani's story..

sunil singh 2 years ago

Ardeshir Godrej inapire me to from his tqo biggest failure to increadble success.

PRAMOD WAREKAR 2 years ago


Prem pardeshi 2 years ago

Mr.Dhirubhai Ambani is great creative of his own life.....

Muze unki ek kahani bahot pasand hai Taj me chay pine wali...He says bada sochane se kuch bada ya accha hota hai...

peter lobo 2 years ago

most were opportunists , who grabbed the opportunity in the 2 world wars

GAGAN PARINDA 2 years ago

BritisherS NEVER did well with indian. so never ever believe on them.they r in India with new strategy , to changing the cast.

aa 2 years ago

All businessman is very good positing in our world

Aditi 2 years ago

Dhirubhai should be placed third, JRD first, and Jamsetji second.

AvineshP profile image

AvineshP 3 years ago from Chandigarh

Above mentioned are some of the inspiring people of India. Without a doubt, they are the path breakers and played a key role in changing the status of India on a global level. People like Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani, without a doubt, enjoys the top position and he is the main inspiration behind so many budding entrepreneurs.

melwin paul 3 years ago

There is no doubt that Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani is India's most brilliant & successful business man of all times and the only business man who made such a huge empire in one generation in indian history! As an Indian always proud of this great legend. Melwin

NAG 3 years ago


Rajmani 3 years ago

khte hai jab takdeer aadmi ke sath chl rha ho to kya krega koi lekin jjba jab aadmi ke sath ho to to tkdeer khud b khud bdal kr aadmi ke sath chl deti hai,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

ye personality es baat ke example hai

BIJESH PLATE 3 years ago


pramodgokhale profile image

pramodgokhale 3 years ago from Pune( India)

The stories are inspiring and for developing India it is important to have such entrepreneurs who started from scratch. These people and their business is backbone of our economy and strength to show the world.

During 1965 and 1971 war with neighbor we experienced the importance of indigenous industry and skill. Super powers have some designs to destabilize and divide India but strong industrial base India withstood all shocks and International plot and machinations.

My salute to above businessmen who built modern India.

pramod gokhale

saamy 4 years ago

The all above magnates had crossed all the difficult path and left the path as history for future generation.

rtburroughs2 profile image

rtburroughs2 4 years ago

I love learning about Indian culture. Great article.

kannanwrites profile image

kannanwrites 4 years ago from Mumbai Author

@Simone Smith Yes indeed there life stories are very inspiring.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

Wow, all of these entrepreneurs are new to me. What cool people! I *had* heard of Tata Airlines before, so it was cool to learn a bit more about Ratanji Tata. I hadn't realized the name came from a person.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article