The creation of a sustainable, profit-making entity that contributes to the development of a society is a task not all can shoulder. Entrepreneurs are bearers of this exalting burden. Although hailing from different backgrounds and cultures, all entrepreneurs share the courage to venture into the unknown.
Though entrepreneurship knows no boundaries of faith, we’re presenting to you a list of the top Muslim entrepreneurs in India (listed alphabetically).
The dream of an idea is often sweeter than its reality. Not so much for Ayaz Basrai. A pass out of the National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad), Ayaz graduated in Industrial Design and specialized in product design.
After working in studios like Ideaspice Design Studio (Dubai), Lokus Design, and XHeight Design studio, he moved on and founded The Busride, an independent design studio, which seems to have touched almost every field you could think of: office spaces (Sony music studio, Channel V studio), retail spaces (The Shantanu Nikhil Gallery, The Turtle Retail Stores), houses (one at Ranwar and one at Tutikorin), and even films (Krrish, Chandni Chowk to China). Apart from Busride, Ayaz also runs The Gypsy Kitchen. He is passionate about Bandra and organizes Bandra Walks.
2. Azhar Iqubal
Co-Founder and CEO, Inshorts
Today everyone is busy. Either they are busy with work or in their daily chores. Seldom people make time to read a news. But it’s essential for everybody to stay updated about the happenings in and around the world. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the news were filtered and shortened for you? Azhar Iqubal, an IIT Delhi dropout started up with News in Shorts along with Anunay Arunav of IIT Delhi, and Deepit Purkayastha of IIT Kharagpur in 2013.
This young entrepreneur has turned our dreams into a reality by creating the app, News in Shorts. The app provides an experience, of knowing it all, without reading it all. The app curates news from all the sources, handpicks the best articles, and provides the gist of those stories in just 60 words.
There are places you don’t want to be put in, and then there are places you do. Farhan Azmi gives to you the latter. The politician cum hotelier finished his schooling at The Scholar High School and studied commerce at Jai Hind and Sydenham College.
What started as a hangout place for friends has metamorphosed into Infinity Hotels Pvt. Ltd., which is the parent company of Koyla, Café Basilico, Basilico House, and ChaiCoffi. Each is unique in its concept and the audience it looks to serve. All these have proved to place people want to be seen in. All throughout, Farhan has carefully carved himself a niche keeping in mind what he calls ‘space-starved’ Mumbaikars. Farhan evidently has grand expansion plans for Infinity Hotels and he’s juggling politics and business well.
4. Faisal Farooqui
Founder & CEO, MouthShut.com and Dealface.com
Want to talk tireless? Talk Faisal Farooqui. Faisal graduated as a Bachelor in Science as well as in Finance from The State University of New York, Binghamton. He, unlike many in his stead, returned to India after the completion of his course and founded mouthshut.com, an online customer feedback, and interaction portal. As of now, it has recorded over six million users a month and counting.
Faisal also co-founded Zarca Interactive, an online survey software. He has received various awards and titles, like the Manthan Award by Govt. of India – Best Youth Website (2006), Indian Digital Media Awards – Best Web Portal of the Year-Gold (2011), etc. In addition to the awards, he was named Top Entrepreneur by the Entrepreneur Magazine in 2012 and one of the Top 100 Digital Icons of India 2012. When he isn’t busy receiving awards, he’s giving talks at prestigious institutions such as the American University in Dubai, IIM Ahmedabad, and IIT Mumbai. He published a paper on “Application of Market Research Towards Proactive Customer Relationship Management” in 2003. What’s more, he also pioneered auto rickshaw advertising.
5. Gulrez Alam
Global COO, Resultrix
Social media and e-commerce are essential weapons for the success and sustenance of companies. Without SEO and SEM, they would be as good as a gun without bullets. Gulrez Alam has spent more than a decade of making social media and e-commerce useful to his clients.
Gulrez, an MBA from IILM New Delhi, founded Resultrix in 2008. It is a leading service provider of search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate and social media marketing. They are certified partners with Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Resultrix has also been listed as a Microsoft adExcellence Company. In a matter of six years of its formation, it has been acquired by Publicis Group. If you do want to catch him while he’s in Mumbai and make it look accidental, try the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Bandra.
Wockhardt group is the first true healthcare group from India, and Dr. Habil Khorakiwala has been the captain of this ship. He steers it and has built it sturdy. Dr. Khorakiwala majored in Pharmacy from the L M College in Ahmedabad and later acquired a Masters Degree in Pharmaceutical Science from Purdue University, USA. He was the only international non-American to have been given the title of ‘Distinguished Aluminous’ by the Purdue University. Thereafter he studied in an Advanced Management Programme at the Harvard Business School in Boston, USA.
He returned to India and took over what was a small firm that made OTC (Over-The-Counter) medications. It has now blossomed into a giant MNC, making him a pharma tycoon in its true sense. As of today, Wockhardt is a USD 841 million (and counting) pharmaceutical company. The firm engages in an endless list of CSR activities and has a workforce of 7500 people from 14 nations. The Government of India has nominated Dr. Habil Khorakiwala for various committees and councils. He is quite the family man, and an avid reader and philanthropist.
7. Irfan Alam
Irfan Alam was fond of comics as a child and is now an entrepreneurial superhero for over five million rickshaw operators. As a twelve-year-old, Irfan studied the stock market and helped his father make investment decisions. By the age of fifteen, he launched Matins, a portfolio management firm that managed over Indian INR 60 lakhs (nearly USD 14,000). As an older man, the Harvard graduate identified an opportunity that would ease out the life for rickshaw operators as well as their clients and carried extensive research for the same at IIM Ahmedabad. In 2006, he participated in a competition announced by a television channel for entrepreneurs to showcase their business ideas. He won the contest and was titled “Business Bazigaar”.
Irfan declined to accept the investment, in a very hero-like move, over the investors’ demands of the firm being for-profit and their demand to hold a majority of stakes in it. He structured a model that ensured that he and the community (with the community owning a majority) will together hold at least 51 percent of the stakes in Samman, which organized the most scattered income generating sector in India – the rickshaw operators. It doesn’t stop there. The rickshaws that are part of Samman are also a selling point for various products and services. The rickshaw operators and their families have been made “full economic citizens” by Irfan’s efforts to build channels for essential services such as banking, individual access to credit, and health for them. He was invited for Presidential Summit, 2010 at Washington by the US President Barack Obama. He has won himself various titles and awards. All he needs now is a cape!
8. Irfan Razack
Managing Director, Prestige Group
Bread, clothing, and shelter are our basic needs. The Razack Sattar family deals in the latter two. Irfan Razack is Mr. Sattar’s eldest son. He studied commerce and graduated from St. Joseph’s College (Bangalore University) and was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by St. Joseph’s Old Boys Association. Later on, he completed a course in Jordan by the United Nations University International’s Leadership Academy (UNU/ILA).
Irfan established Prestige in 1986, which is now a public company, with over 90 million square feet of commercial, retail, and residential properties gracing its profile so far. His love for extreme adventure is reflected in the goals he sets for Prestige and the velocity at which the company is expanding. He guided it for INR 4300 crore, which amounts to about 8 million square feet for the financial year 2014. Mr. Sattar has received many awards, including Real Estate Excellence Award (2008) and the Best Developer Award (2009) by Karnataka State Town Planning Development. He has also held important posts like Honorary secretary of Al-Ameen Educational Society, President of Bangalore Commercial Association (BCA) and Chairman of CREDAI.
The obvious direct relationship between employee productivity and employee satisfaction demands that corporates give as much attention to their internal audience as they do to their external audience. Javed Akhtar, a graduate from St. Georges College, Heena J. A., and Bhavin Parekh witnessed the plight of these corporates and identified the tremendous opportunity that comes with it. They fit together all the elements of loyalty and promotions programs, and Travelport was born.
They started off in a small office at Dharavi in 2002. 12 years on, they have expanded and ventured into the rewards and recognition programs as well. Rewardport, as they call it, serves over 250 clients with a team of 150 professionals, with a turnover of over INR 100 crore. This taste of success seems to have made Javed crave for more! Already having covered a strong market share in both corporate travel plans and corporate reward plans, he’s now tapping the potential in the travel market for non-corporate individuals. Javed has also come up with the idea of opening travel offices in malls, adding convenience to quality.
Jawed’s grandfather, Nazir Ahmed, cut the hair of almost all the heavyweights among Indian and British politicians of the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru and Lord Mountbatten. Jawed, a graduate in French Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University, is undoubtedly romantic- but for hairdressing. He completed a nine-month hairdressing course at Morris International School in London post graduation. Soon after, he was hired by Sunsilk and he gave the firm a good nine years of service before returning to India.
Here in India, Jawed started units in remote places and trained a handful of students at a time. The trained students were then encouraged to go back to their hometown and gather a group of five people for his lecture. Then he’d start a salon with them! This soon formed a chain. Today, JHHBL has 207 saloons and 41 academies across India, and one in Malaysia. He now intends to diversify and offer to his clients all that is related to haircare and beauty. Shampoos, serums, makeup cosmetics, hair clips, razors, spas, (saloon) chairs, cups, electronic hair appliances – you name it and it’s on his mind already.
11. Jazeel Badur Ferry
“Never let success get into your head and never let your failure get to your heart”. These are the wise words dominating Jazeel’s Facebook page cover photo. The 23-year-old completed an undergraduate degree in computer science and engineering from Mangalore. He and his friends failed at impressing the jury of The Startup Centre hackathon with their idea to build an app related to stock market integrating the SMS feature.
A year later, though, they floored the jury with their idea of Eventifier, which was born out of a seemingly casual observation that there was no online portal to archive the pictures and social media discussions threads that were formed while the event was on. Eventifier’s incubation at The Startup Centre hackathon was the starting point of the ride the three friends were getting onto. It was listed as one of the 7 most interesting social media startups at the Web Summit, Ireland. The startup has now been funded with USD 5,00,000 by Accel Partners and Kae Capital.
12. Mohammad Hisamuddin
Co-Founder, Innoz Technologies and Quest
While the world is busy going gaga over the internet, Mohammad and two of his friends were busy unlocking the treasures of SMS apps. Mohammad graduated from Lal Bahadur Shastri College of Engineering, Kerala. The idea of Innoz was formed in a hostel room while the startup itself was jointly incubated at IIM Ahmedabad and Technopark Trivandrum.
Quest is an Android and iOS based application that function as a search engine where people answer questions posed by other people. Innoz has been recorded the largest offline search engine, 2013, in the Limca Book of Records. It has also has won a number of awards, including Nasscom top 8 emerging technology companies in India 2010, top 10 mobile application developers in India 2010, and top 10 emerging product companies 2011. In addition, they won MIT-TR35 for 2010 and were shortlisted for the GSMA global mobile Awards 2012. Mohammad Hisamuddin follows football, cricket, and tennis and likes to read non-fictions books. With so many things on his plate, we wonder where this gets all the time for it.
13. Navaj Sharief
Founder, Ammi’s Biryani
What’s better than a traditional, homemade biryani? A traditional homemade biryani packed in a box and delivered to you! Meet the guy who brought this about – Navaj Sharief. He completed his schooling from Baldwin Boy’s School and moved on to pursue his BBA and MBA from the Banglore University. Navaj left the comfort of a well-established, family owned business to start Ammi’s Biryani in 2008.
He believes in building the city before building the fort. It comes as no surprise, then, that he single-handedly built the company from scratch first, transcending from one role to another whenever required. The building of a strong management and HR team around it came later, with stabilization. This strategy has worked wonders for him. Today, Ammi’s Biryani has over 30 outlets spread across Bangalore and Chennai. It has been applauded for its flawless packaging and its appealing quality of food on various blogs. Navaj bagged the Best Entrepreneur Award at the Maeeshat Awards ceremony, 2013.
14. Shahnaz Husain
Founder, Shahnaz Husain Group
If sheer grit and independence could be a woman, it would be Shahnaz Husain. She was schooled at La Martiniere, Lucknow, and was married by the tender age of 15. Shahnaz accompanied her husband to his posting in Tehran. There, beauty treatments intrigued her more than ever and she made up her mind to study cosmetology. Driven by her will to be independent, she supported her education by writing articles for the Iran Tribune. She worked with some of the leading institutions in the world, like Swarzkopf, Helena Rubinstein, Lancome, Christine Valmy, and Lean of Copenhagen. The occurrences of chemical damage due to beauty treatments inspired her to look for a safer, more dependable alternative.
She found Ayurveda, and there has been no looking back ever since. Now a mother, she started her business in the comfort of her home, with an initial investment of INR 35,000 from her father. Soon, she was elected Chairman of the I.T.E.C. International Beauty Congress in 1981 and later in the year represented India at the Cosmetics Fair at Brighton, UK. The sale of her products broke the cosmetics sales record at Selfridge, and there was no looking back after. As of today, Shahnaz Husain has expanded her business to over 100 countries, branching into various segments like salons, spas, and shops.
15. Syed Mohammed Beary
CMD, Beary’s Group
Syed Mohammed Beary started off as a real estate consultant in 1981. Within three decades, Beary’s Group has grown into a giant empire, offering solutions for everything, from design, development, construction, management, coordination to marketing and advisory services. Today, Beary’s is involved in total reality, property development, and turnkey solutions, infrastructure and construction engineering, shariah as well as education. Syed spent his childhood in the picturesque hilly region of Chikmagalur.
His love for nature forms an integral part of all the projects his group takes up. The entire Beary Group is supported on three pillars – Entrepreneurship, Environment, and Education. The BGRT is India’s first sustainable green building research park. They have as many as 16 educational institutes across the coastal towns of Karnataka. The group has won multiple awards over the years.
16. Sirajuddin Qureshi
CMD, Hind Industries
Sirajuddin Qureshi was born an entrepreneur. As a child, he supported his education by buying small goods and selling them on the roadside. He graduated from the University of Delhi and pursued Law after. Hind Industries saw its inception with Mr. Qureshi’s first consignment – an order of meat worth Rs. 17,000 to Dubai. Today, Hind Industries has its presence in 50 countries, with interests in agro-processing, abattoirs, livestock development, engineering, education, hospitality, and power. In 2010, Sirajuddin Qureshi was invited by US President Barack Obama for an entrepreneurial summit in Washington.
Mr. Qureshi is also president of the Indian Islamic Culture Centre. Having realized the importance of education very early on in life, Mr. Qureshi has taken upon himself to help scores of youngsters from the minority sections of the society and educated them through the Noble Education Foundation of IICC. He also bears all the expenses towards the education provided. Mr. Qureshi has been honored with several awards and recognitions from the Government of India for his contributions to the export industry.
In the times when cakes were a luxury affordable only to the highest class, Monginis gave the common man reason to ‘Go ahead, celebrate!’. Zoher Khorakiwala grew up to a constant cycle of wooden trays filled with fresh cakes and puffs entering the bakery and getting exhausted within minutes. He joined the family business in 1972. Since then, much has changed and much has stayed the same. The cake shop of the common man has adapted itself to local tastes as it built franchises all over the world. The evergreen favorites like the black forest cake and the pineapple pastry, though, have remained untouched.
Monginis has kept up with the dynamic technological advancements, entering into e-commerce and even offering varieties like ‘photo’ cakes. Not to forget the packaged moist cakes have gained popularity. Zoher Khorakiwala has strategized the expansion of Monginis in such a way that they consolidate their presence in the places where they already have stores. We think these are grand, deserving plans. After all, who hasn’t heard of Monginis?
If you know an entrepreneur who could be added to this list, let us know via the comments section (moderated) below. We would appreciate your suggestions and contributions.
Note: The numbers do not imply any ranks.