The List

Let me admit, I am a huge fan of Lists. I use them for fun, for learning, for improving productivity and, even, for procrastinating stuff.

I also carefully follow several of the more popular business lists – Fortune 500, Inc. 5000, Forbes 400; you get the drift.

There is no doubt that lists help us make sense of chaos. I glanced through several lists today, and each one either gave me a new perspective or fresh information.

I enjoyed going through two lists published by the daily newspaper Mint. One was a list of “5 New Early Stage VCs in India” and their investment philosophies and another was “40 People Who Matter in the Indian Startup Ecosystem”. (In fact, Mukesh Ambani featured in the latter!).

I also went through Startup Genome’s 2015 list of 20 best startup ecosystems in the world. The only city from India that featured on this list was Bengaluru; no Mumbai, no Delhi. Among the global startup ecosystems, I was surprised there was no Dublin, Ireland, one of best emerging startup hubs in Europe.

Can we find gaps in these lists? Of course. In fact, you can drastically change, make an argument and modify over 50 per cent of any of these lists. We could make an easy argument to include Mumbai and Dublin in the Startup Genome List. Mukesh Ambani’s Jio allowed India’s richest man to be called a ‘Startup Entrepreneur’. It doesn’t take too much to argue against it.

But why are these lists relevant?  From a reader perspective, it gives us ‘easy to grasp’ information in a simple format. It was easy for me to jot down the names of the five new VCs in town. I made a mental note to schedule interviews with three entrepreneurs in Mint’s 40 Who Matter… list. And, I noticed Vancouver on the Startup Genome list, so I Googled and read a couple of articles about the city’s most exciting startups.

I say it again – lists are fun, easy-to-grasp, and help us make sense of chaotic, unorganized information.

It is for this reason that we have decided to publish a collection of lists in The Smart CEO, in the coming fiscal.

Of course, our flagship list is Startup50. It is a listing of India’s 50 best startups, who’ve shown remarkable character and progress within five years of founding. Startup50 is a nuanced list, carefully put together from a nomination pool of over 250 ventures, completely decided based on data analytics and a Jury Process.

However, lists like Startup50 are time consuming to arrive at and require high-quality data crunching skills, coupled with the time commitment from senior entrepreneurs (as jury members).

But, we realized that the content we produced around Startup50 helped a lot of readers get an overall sense of India’s startup ecosystem. So, we decided that we would publish sector-specific lists, that’d not be as rigorous to publish, but would help our readers make sense of a sector, through examples. Hence, the idea of publishing Fintech35 and F&B20.

The Smart CEO-Fintech 35 List, which was published in January 2017, was representative of India’s emerging fintech ecosystem. Specifically, it gave our readers a glimpse into the various sub-categories within fintech; peer-to-peer lending, wallets, bots, SME financing, fraud prevention, financial inclusion-tech, insurance tech, etc. The list by no means was complete; However, a first-hand account of the experiences of 35 fintech entrepreneurs was very relevant.

With the F&B20 list, we hope to do the same. It is a collection of 20 narratives from food & beverage entrepreneurs. These ventures are at various stages of a company lifecycle – some early-stage, some late stage private equity backed, and some that have just pivoted to a new business model. Irrespective of the details, these 20 stories are sure to give you a perspective of what it is to build a food business in our country. And, that’s really the goal of our sector lists.

 Hope you enjoy reading the F&B20 Collection.