The health of an economy like India’s can often be gauged by how its midsize companies are doing. While the large companies are usually the ones celebrated and are the focus of attention at the stock markets, it is the huge universe of midsize enterprises which also contributes in a big way to keeping the wheels of the economy churning. In a sense, these companies are the engines of growth providing employment to millions. While midsize companies often struggle to access finance, tap new markets, or embrace the latest technology, there are several hidden gems in this space which are tomorrow’s trailblazers.

The Fortune India Next 500 list of the country’s top midsize corporations delves deep into these companies, and slices and dices the numbers to provide a sense of how they are faring. Ever since this list was launched in 2015, it has become a definitive barometer of the health of this segment of India’s corporate sector. When a Next 500 company grows big enough and enters the Fortune India 500 list of the country’s largest corporations, it is then proof of how significant the midsize companies are. Simply put, they are the leaders of tomorrow, and the Next 500 list shines a spotlight on this set of emerging giants. A good example of this transition from midsize to large is Radico Khaitan, the fast-growing spirits company which topped the 2020 Next 500 list, and then made its debut on the Fortune India 500 last year. Many others have made a similar transition from the midsize list to the ranks of the country’s largest corporations over the years.

This year’s Next 500 list has some very interesting names, a few of which we have covered in detail in the pages that follow. There’s a common theme in the stories we have chosen: The companies we picked have all become listed entities recently by tapping the markets through initial public offers (IPO). For example, there is the inspiring story of Mrs. Bectors Food, the venture started by the enterprising Rajni Bector from her home kitchen in Ludhiana, which has now grown into a ₹750 crore-plus foods company. There is Route Mobile, the cloud communications firm started by two brothers, which has become a huge hit on the bourses. And then there is Burger King India, the Indian arm of the American burger chain, which has drawn up major plans for growth and expansion. All three saw big success at the markets with their IPOs.

However, this year’s list is also the first with a cumulative loss. Ironically, this is due to just 93 companies which together knocked up a whopping ₹81,532 crore of losses, wiping out the ₹34,925 crore of cumulative profits clocked by the remaining 407 companies. Consequently, the Next 500 this year has a cumulative loss of ₹46,607 crore.

Elsewhere in this issue, we bring you a fascinating conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla where he talks about developing the Covid-19 vaccine, drug prices, and his “next impossible task”. There’s also the much-awaited Fortune list of The World’s Most Admired Companies, where Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Walt Disney, and Starbucks occupy the top 5 slots among the 50 All-Stars who won votes from both within their industries and outside.

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