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10 Geniuses Who Are Redefining the Future of Creativity

10 Geniuses Who Are Redefining the Future of Creativity
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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

They had a flash of creative brilliance that led them make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. Entrepreneur Media picked 10 such people from different walks of life, who are impacting the way world thinks with their creative juices. All of them have different stories to tell.

Adventure gear company Wildcraft Founders Gaurav Dublish and Siddharth Sood wanted to go on outdoor expeditions but there was no affordable, safe gear in the country, so they decided to make it themselves. Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali has a bag of full of stories, which doesn’t let him sleep. They come out and when they do, he makes modern classics.

Siddhartha Lal of Eicher Motors sold all of his business to focus on his dream of making Royal Enfield big, and today, it has gone beyond Indian borders. Author Amish Tripathi was crunching numbers at a banking job when something unusual happened. He started writing, publishers rejected, but today he is a literary icon.

They all had different paths but all of them have common traits. They are fearless, passionate and determined. They are dreamers in the night and warriors in the day, who work hard to make their vision come true.

The Great Gambler: Siddhartha Lal, MD, Eicher Motors

Royal Enfield was the joker in the pack when Siddhartha Lal decided to shut down 13 of his 15 businesses (a Rs 1912-crore empire) decade back and concentrate on the motorbike business in India. Many thought Eicher Motors was packing it up.

It was a sin to sell family businesses at that time, but Lal saw something that no else did. He would rather be the master of one (or two) trade than mediocre jack of 15. Lal kept the bikes and trucks in his portfolio. A passionate entrepreneur, Lal decided to put all his might behind these to markets, and today Eicher is a Rs 9,000 crore (approx) company.

Eicher Motors plans to double the manufacturing capacity of its two-wheeler arm Royal Enfield to nine lakh units per annum by 2018 to meet robust demand of its motorcycles in India. Ambitious Lal, has decided to go global. Royal Enfield announced to invest Rs 500 crore in product development, capex and other development areas.

“We are in the process of developing engines for the international markets and lots of developmental work is happening in the UK. It is for that I have decided to move to the UK for one year,” said Lal. They just opened a technical centre in the UK.

“In addition to the US, the UK and Europe, where we are selling for last decade, we are looking to enter new markets, including Latin America and South East Asian countries,” he said.

A Man of Memories: Neeraj Kakkar, Founder, Paperboat

While foreign beverages are targeting Indian youth, Hector Beverages decided to take a total u-turn and opted for nostalgia. Paperboat got renowned poet Gulzar on board and weaved a story that touched old and new alike. A lot should be credited to Neeraj Kakkar. “We used to live in rented home in a large complex and our land lady used to sit in the verandah and make Kanji with carrots.

I used to take a glass of Kanji from the matka and fill it with water. I have never tasted such a Kanji ever again. I want to create same Kanji for Paperboat and I will do it one day,” says Kakkar. He may be management guy, crunching numbers but at the core he is an engaging story-teller. “I love telling stories. Stories give you an opportunity to open up to people and create a connection.

I am always observing people to know them better. I often go to markets and see who is buying what, understanding why they are making a particular choice. I am thrilled about real emotions, real people and real stories,” says Kakkar. He believes an entrepreneur is creative if he/she can come up with solutions.

His dream is to take Paperboat global as he says, “I would love to put Indian beverages on the international map and bring different drinks from other countries under Paperboat umbrella.”

A Maverick Story-Teller: Imtiaz Ali, Filmmaker

The desire to tell his story made Imtiaz Ali that creative genius he has become. He easily translated epic love stories of Romeo Juliet, Heer Ranjha and Laila Majnu in today’s language and created classics for the contemporary audience.

But Ali never takes the credit for that. Born in a small city of Jamshedpur, Ali never thought he would become a filmmaker. He was just interested in people and was fascinated with their stories. When young, Ali used to go on secret expeditions as detective to know more about people. Today, he laughs it off as childhood craziness, but the fact remains that Ali was always curious. Curiosity lead him to Delhi University where he started Ibtida, the drama society of Hindu college. “It is always important to tell your stories and no one else’s. Every person has something different

oday, he laughs it off as childhood craziness, but the fact remains that Ali was always curious. Curiosity lead him to Delhi University where he started Ibtida, the drama society of Hindu college. “It is always important to tell your stories and no one else’s. Every person has something different in them.

Every person is a story in himself/ herself. Believe it,” he told Hindu College students when he came back to his alma mater for his film’s promotion. Theatre gave a face to his stories but the ambition led him to Bollywood, where it was a struggle.

His first film, Socha Na Tha, took three years to complete but it was a blessing in disguise. “Mostly the accidents which happen are more influential than the decision you are taking. My first film was such opportunity where I learnt everything on the job,” says Ali. And he still continues to do so.

He has collaborated with some of the best names in the industry like AR Rahman, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and credits his achievements to the connections he made with people whom we all know as stars. The 44-year-old filmmaker considers himself a loner, always on a quest to know more about oneself. He travels alone looking for more stories from country’s heartland.

“I know the films I make and things I do influence people but I am myself not sure of what I am doing most of the time. One thing I have learnt is not to follow what I think. In that way, life takes care of itself and your thing, and trust me it is all right,” he says.

Monk on a Motorcycle: Jaggi Vasudeva, Spiritual Guru

He is a biker, loves racing fast cars, plays golf— Jaggi Vasudeva is not your regular god-man. Flirting with danger and embracing thrills, Adventure is his middle name, describes his website.

One of his followers once asked about him indulging in worldly pleasures and he said, “Every moment of my life, I am on a race track. Not racing with anybody but definitely on full throttle. People have a set idea about a spiritual guru that he should be staid. If to be peaceful and joyful you need to walk slowly, don’t meet people and do nothing in the world and only sit in a cave, then obviously your peacefulness is extremely fragile. My peace, my blissfulness, my love isn’t fragile.”

At the core of Vasudeva’s Isha foundation is a customized system of yoga called Isha Yoga for the modern. His program Inner Engineering is a yogic kriya that is said to transform you from within. Interestingly, Vasudeva’s followers are some of the top names in the business world like Ratan Tata, Jindal family, KV Kamath, Donna Karan, GMR’s GM Rao, IBM’s Shankar Annaswamy, to name a few.

Finding Craft in the Wild: Gaurav Dublish And Siddharth Sood, Co-Founders, Wildcraft

Necessity is the mother of invention and that could easily summarize why Gaurav Dublish, Siddharth Sood and Dinesh Sood— who are avid adventurers, came up with brand Wildcraft, the biggest outdoor gear company in India. The trio realized that there wasn’t any adventure gear that suited Indians.

The ones available were European brands that were fit to their terrain and people and were costly while the rest were counterfeits. The need to have safe and affordable gear fuelled their imagination and they started producing on the sides while continuing in their respective careers in banking, financing and engineering.

But entrepreneurship was in their DNA as they foresaw a huge market coming up in India. They left their jobs and threw themselves into producing adventure gear, which could truly be called “for the Indians by the Indians.”

Today, they have presence in over 400 cities in the country with 130 exclusive stores and 3,000 multi-branded stores. For Wildcraft, creativity lies in coming with customized product for the Indian adventurer. For instance, a typical European rucksack is made according to the built for a typical European body (5ft. 10in. for men and 5ft. 6in. for women).

“Now, if we used those, it would lead to backaches and headaches. So we came up with designs that suited the Indian body type,” says

Today, they have presence in over 400 cities in the country with 130 exclusive stores and 3,000 multi-branded stores. For Wildcraft, creativity lies in coming with customized product for the Indian adventurer. For instance, a typical European rucksack is made according to the built for a typical European body (5ft. 10in. for men and 5ft. 6in. for women).

“Now, if we used those, it would lead to backaches and headaches. So we came up with designs that suited the Indian body type,” says Dublish. Today, they have a highly competent team that comes up with exclusive designs.

“We are proud to say that we can come with a product from conception to real in 45 days,” says Dublish. Dublish believes he has grown into a better entrepreneur because of his various expeditions. “It makes you humble. You realize that you are just a small part in the scheme of things. It also makes fearless,” Dublish adds. If not at work, you would find Dublish and Sood fishing in Cauvery fishing camps, about 100 km from Bengaluru and mulling over their next idea.

The One Who Talks To Gods: Amish Tripathi, Author Of Shiva Trilogy And Scion Of Ikshvaku

Amish Tripathi took the world of publication by storm and how. Described as ‘India’s first literary pop star’ by world- renowned film director Shekhar Kapur, Tripathi’s unique style of combining story-telling, religious symbolism and  philosophies has made him an overnight hit. Spiritual guru Deepak Chopra calls his books “archetypal and stirring.”

But it wasn’t a dream run for this banker to turn into a successful author. You would be surprised to know that almost every publisher turned him down when he first went around with his manuscript. He took out the The Immortals of Meluha all by himself. Today, his Shiva Trilogy — The Immortals of Meluha (2010), The Secret of the Nagas (2011) and The Oath of the Vayuputras (2013) — has over 2.5 million copies in print with gross retail sales of over Rs 70 crore, making it the fastest selling book series in the Indian history.

What stirs this creative genius? Cream biscuits. “I know it would sound funny, but then cream biscuits are my favorite companion,” says Tripathi. Music is another stimulant that helps him give the right feel to a story. “I would listen to metallic rock while writing a war scene and beautiful melody while writing about love,” he adds.

 Tripathi uses his IIM education to market his books. His first book The Immortals of Meluha became a top bestseller in a week due to innovative marketing strategies. His next series on Lord Rams has already created a buzz with its first book “Scion of Ikshvaku” is already a hit known for its thrilling plots and intelligent story-telling.

The ‘Qtiyapa’ Guy: Arunabh Kumar, Founder, The Viral Fever

“Washrooms are good thinktanks to come up with ideas,” says Arunabh Kumar, Founder & CEO (Chief Experimenting officer), The Viral Fever (TVF). An alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, Kumar started in 2011 and created India’s first original web content, “Rowdies” – a spoof on MTV show Roadies that went viral and was an instant hit. It was a reaction to his rejection by MTV.

“It was the time when Canon DSLR camera had just come in the market and I made a presentation its cost effectiveness to shoot. They showed me the door without even looking at it,” says Kumar. “The idea of creativity is so skewed. Either it is a gift of the rich or you can only activate it while smoking something weird. For me, it is seeing the obvious in the facade.

I have an absolute problem with those who cannot see absolute truth,” says Kumar. Next three years saw, 12 exciting online properties. Qtiyapa was an instant hit. Permanent Roommates got over 9 million viewership.

 Pitchers, had a viewership of over seven million. Interestingly, MTV wants Kumar to make something for them but he is in no mood for that. He would rather be loyal to his million fans and give them great humor and content. TVF’s revenues come from brand collaboration. They have collaborated with around 40 brands that include Lenovo, Flipkart, Google and Airtel. 

The idea is to cleverly and subtly merge the brand with their creativity to reach the right audience. He is ambitious and wants to capture the imagination of youth.

Female Side of Humor: Neeti Palta, Stand-Up Comedienne

It seems like Neeti Palta was working in an advertising industry for a decade just to gather enough material to become a stand-up comedienne. She is a known name in corporate and political circles (she performed at Shashi Tharoor’s dinner for delegates from 30 nations), grew up with all usual prejudices around women, and she kept fighting them till she got her final release on the stage.

“While my brother and I used to fight, my mom would tell him don’t hurt her face, that’s vital and I would shout back saying all my parts are important,” she says laughingly. While she has been a tomboy, playing golf and laughing loudly like a retard, which her mother obviously detested, somewhere deep inside she didn’t agree to indiscrimination women at large and that makes most of her script.

“There are some men who take it in their side and laugh out loud but some take an offence, too. My brother hasn’t seen any of my shows thinking I would rip him apart in them,” she chuckles. She finds her ideas while in the shower. She makes sure that a pen and paper is ready in her room so that she could quickly run out and write it first.

finds peace in sarcasm, and if you find her in bad mood that’s probably because she hasn’t found any original joke for the day. She wrote Salman Khan produced, O Teri. This 38-year-old artist plans to come up with a solo comedy show in the future but till then she is happy tickling your funny bone and earn some living out of it.

The Kingmaker: Prashant Kishor, Political Strategist

Nobody knows where this guy came from. The stories about him come from his colleagues. Who is Prashant Kishor? He is the man behind Narendra Modi’s successful journey to become the Prime Minister and most recently he gave Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav an unbelievable victory in Bihar elections.

This maverick hates limelight and would rather work in the background. However, people in the business have realized the game changer that Kishor is. After seeing his magic,  Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi met Kishor to see if he can do 360-degree make-over for India’s oldest political party for Uttar Pradesh elections in 2017.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee also wants a rerun next year and wants Kishor to head her campaign. The 37-year-old always-in-control professional and believes in hiring the best. His team includes brightest talents from engineering, law, management, finance and media. He prefers working closely with the leader of a party whether it is Modi or Kumar. Kishor’s forte lies in understanding the psyche of voters. He galvanized the youth with interactive campaigns like Chai Pe Charcha (for Modi) and Badhta Rahe Bihar, Phir Ek Baar(for Kumar) to name a few.

A perfectionist, Kishor works 24x7 keeping a tab on the opposition that gives him the edge of coming up with creative maneuvers every time. He is known for his attack campaigns. One such example was during Bihar campaign, when Modi talked DNA of Bihar, calling it Durbhagyashali (unfortunate).

Kishor picked that and gathered on-ground volunteers to spread the word about how Modi insulted Biharis. The next day he sent trucks full of Bihari nail filings and hair to the PMO to help Modi understand the nature of the Bihari DNA.

Food Specialist: Gaggan Anand, Molecular Gastronomy Chef

He is the flavor of the season. His Bangkok restaurant, ‘Gaggan’ won San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant awards 2015 in Singapore and Anand could not help his tears. He thanked his mother who prophesied Anand would become a chef one day and Gaggan gave her a gift by becoming the best in the world. One of the dishes in his menu is called, ‘Who killed the goat?’— Grilled lamb chop wrapped in an edible plastic with a seasoning of almond saffron oil thrown on the plate to look like streaks of blood.

People complain that most of the time he is in own world. His creative bulb shines while pooping, and sometimes best ideas come in hot showers. He works with a precision of a scientist and his kitchen is his lab. Mind and memory are his biggest tools and the secret to his recipes is to be fresh, fresher and freshest.

“Nothing should be cooked before the plate is ready for pick up, its 200 percent commitment,” he says. When he gets stuck, you would see him listening to Pink Floyd, pass the problem to 10 others in kitchen and keep thinking together till the issue in hand is resolved.

He  believes the ambition has been his driving force. “Otherwise there would have been no Gaggan. The brand should always be question cooking in every foodie’s mind. We should make them like Indian food more than their last best eating experience,” says Anand.

When asked, “When did your life change? He says, “When I started to steal money from dads pocket for candies, which he still doesn’t know.” That’s Gaggan Anand for you— restless, emotional, comical, wild, borderline mad and a creative genius.