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  • Jermina Menon

Analysing the Fortune India 40under40 2021 winners

Updated: Jun 21

What this list shares about the industries and companies to watch out for in the coming year.



Fortune India recently revealed the 40Under40 list for 2021


The list applauds 40 companies (vs. individuals) and includes founders and CXOs from these companies in the list. A total of 83 people make the cut.


There has been a lot of debate on whether the lists are relevant. Why do we have 30under30 and 40under40 but not the same for under 50 &60? Why not a Top 10 list for each decade? But this post isn’t about those conversations.


My takeaway is that these lists are indicators of what perhaps are not just the winning companies but also an indicator of the current and future winning sectors.


Here’s my Knowetic analysis of the rankings. The players by industry and also an analysis of the profile of winners – with gender statistics also being looked into.


First, the businesses and industries that are going to define the future.





1. The retail sector leads with 7 companies and its founders in the list, which makes me very happy of course! The list includes marquee players like Lenskart, Meesho & Wow Momos to new players like Fable Street (one of my fav go to brands too – makes their win almost a personal victory).


2. The next sector with 5 winners is not surprisingly the #venturecapital industry. Given that today almost every new business is a start-up that is looking for funding, a great VC ensures the right idea is backed and given the opportunity to reach its potential.


3. The third sector is interesting, it goes to show how an industry that tunes itself to its customer’s changing needs and technology can continue be relevant for decades. It’s the media and entertainment industry with 4 players making the mark.


4. The next set of industries with 3 players each are FMCG and the current VC favourties - Edtech and FinTech. FMCG is to be the dark horse which somehow lost its lustre but happy to see it back and in interesting categories with huge potential like dairy, cosmetics and beer! EdTech & FinTech are riding the post covid wave that has led to some almost permanent changes in our lifestyles.


5. Automotive, Consumer Service & Healthcare are the next set with 2 players each. A sign of the changing times is in the automotive sector where both players are in the electrical vehicle business - Etrio and Ather


6. The final set with one player each is made of SAAS, AgriTech, Research, Real Estate, Mobile Tech, Gaming, FoodTech, Cybersecurity & the Social Sector


The list is definitely a good indicator of industries that are poised to benefit post Covid.


Analysing the actual winners threw up some interesting statistics. Of the total 83 winners, only 6 were women (just 7% of the total winners). Of these only 3 were founders (of 2 fashion e-commerce businesses) while other 3 were co-founders. Do we really have less women entrepreneurs, or is it true that women led businesses do find it tougher to get funding?




Many news reports and studies seem to suggest the same. An HBR Study revealed that Women-Led Startups Received Just 2.3% of VC Funding in 2020 (https://hbr.org/2021/02/women-led-startups-received-just-2-3-of-vc-funding-in-2020 ). Another startling fact was that almost 89% of the decision makers at VC Funds are men. The study also confirmed that when women venture capitalists do make the decisions, they’re twice as likely to invest in female founding teams.


The report astutely ends by saying the solution is not for VCs to suddenly start supporting startups simply because they’re founded by women but to weed out the institutional patterns and thinking that prevents VC firms from recognising the great potential of ideas presented to them.


While I am sure the years ahead will see more women led start-ups not just benefitting with funding but also making it to such lists time and again.


Do share your thoughts below.



The Fortune India article and list can be accessed here.

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