He may be India's most ambitious telecom entrepreneur. The privileged son of a parliamentarian, Sunil Mittal didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps. So after graduating from Punjab University, he ended up forming his own tiny bicycle business in the 1970s.
That company, Bharti Enterprises, has grown up to be one of India's leading private telecom service providers. With sales of $300 million and operating income of $53 million in 2000, Bharti is the largest private fixed-line operator in India. And it controls 20% of the mobile communications market. Mittal, 43, got his big chance when he bought three telecom licenses in southern India for $225 million in 1999--and later snagged a total 40% investment from Singapore Telecom and New York-based investment fund Warburg Pincus. His next act: a $200 million IPO this fall. Mittal wants to build a nationwide private phone giant. He just may do it.