For catering electric cars to a new audience. Reva, which was acquired by the Mahindra & Mahindra automotive group in 2010, is the country’s first electric carmaker. The new partnership is betting big on the E2O, a four-seater electric hatchback slated to launch in 2013. The car will give buyers a more environmentally friendly option without compromising on speed and comfort—unlike Reva’s original two-seater model. And it’s not just the car that’s more efficient: The new manufacturing facility in Bangalore grabbed a platinum rating from the India Green Building Council.
For spreading sunshine to startups too. Selco has brought solar lighting systems to more than 125,000 rural households with limited or no access to electricity. Thanks to dropping prices of solar panels and the spread of its decentralized model, Selco’s do-good mission is also handsomely profitable. Its new mission: to seed and mentor similar ventures in the sustainable energy space through the Selco Incubation Center.
For bringing life-saving emergency services to India. GVK-EMRI created the country’s first and only professional emergency management service (like 911) for medical, police and fire related emergencies. Built on a public private partnership model, it works with a majority of state governments across the country. Within a year of first launching neonatal ambulances in Chennai, the service saved the lives of 908 babies, all less than a month old. After a 2012 expansion, GVK-EMRI now has a total fleet of more than 4,500.
For leading the market in low-cost air carriers. One of the latest entrants in India's passenger airline business, low-cost carrier IndiGo beat out even full-service airlines on customer experience—from introducing step-less boarding ramps to maintaining the highest on-time performance levels. In 2012, the airline rose to the top in terms of market share as well, gaining almost a third of the market, ahead of both full-service and low-cost airlines.
For building a local empire of touchscreen devices. The Indian mobile phone and tablet maker crept up from behind Nokia and Samsung to become the third largest in India. Micromax is now replicating its tested recipe—feature-laden touchscreen phones and tablets aimed at an expanding segment of aspiring young users looking for the latest experience. Last July, Micromax sold more than 67,000 smartphones, more than their competitors HTC and Karbonne.
For bringing water to the people who need it most. In villages and urban slums, clean water is hard to come by. Sarvajal’s unique RFID-equipped ATMs dispense purified water at a nominal cost through prepaid cards or coins, and harness technology to track usage, technical problems and efficiency of its purifiers at a central dashboard. Sarvajal allows locals to start their own water ATM franchises, growing the company’s reach. There are now more than 156 franchises in rural areas, and Sarvajal typically sees a 150% customer increase for each location where an ATM is added.
For finding a second life for e-waste. In a country where electronic goods have generally been handed down to someone, the idea of recycling e-waste has taken some time to settle in. Attero has demonstrated that it can be a big business: The company handles more than 550 tons of e-waste every month. With a sprawling automated recycling facility at Roorkee—which serves 100 cities across 22 states in India—it’s going aggressive on building a network of collection centers and systems for the consumer market.
For kickstarting the affordable healthcare trend in India. In some southern states in India, Vaatsalya opened a chain of hospitals that offer inexpensive medical care to rural and semi-urban communities. To keep costs down, hiring local talent was vital—but that local talent wasn’t plentiful. So Vaatsalya opened a training center to teach nurses and paramedics on the job. Vaatsalya raised $10 million last year in seed funding, which should last it two years, during which it hopes to double the amount of hospitals. In the past two years, the hospital group has seen 500% growth and more than 500,000 patients are treated annually.
For creating a reliable alternative to government-owned meteorological services. Skymet provides daily forecasts at village level to farmers in 13 Indian states and streams data from its 60 weather stations to its corporate clients. In 2012, it was appointed by the state government of Maharashtra to set up more than 2,000 weather stations in a public private partnership.
For pioneering the digital movie distribution industry in India. UFO revived the loss-making business of film exhibition by offering MPEG-4 compression and digital streaming, making it a cheaper for cash-strapped theatre owners. It’s now banking on its IMPACT ticketing platform, which promises to provide real-time and accurate reporting of ticket sales, bringing much-needed transparency to the movie distribution business.