Who is India's youngest billionaire? How did he make it from zero to ‘Zerodha’

·3 min read
Nikhil Kamath
Nikhil Kamath, Co-Founder Zerodha

At only 34 he's got India's young and old investors dancing to his tunes and with good reason. The success of India's biggest stock brokerage firm Zerodha has been unparalleled. And, if you follow Nikhil Kamath on any social media platforms, you'll see how he's the first to post some of the most pertinent information in the most simplistic formats such that a high school student would easily grasp financial concepts. 

Here's discovering how this maverick investor not only made it to India's rich lists, but is currently the youngest billionaire in India.

As is common among many self-made billionaires, Nikhil Kamath dropped out of high school at the age of 14. Soon he started dabbling with petty businesses and share trading, while pursuing his fondness for chess.

Chess was Kamath’s earliest passion, starting at the age of five and playing against professionals by the time he was in his teens. The cerebral game sharpened his analytical skills, something that has come in handy in his entrepreneurial life.

Son of a banker and a music teacher, Nikhil started a used mobile phone trading business with his friend after dropping out of school. However, his mother drained this business idea out of his mind, by actually flushing his inventory down the toilet. Within three years, Nikhil landed a job in a call centre, armed with a fake birth certificate and an Rs 8,000 paycheck.

By the time he was 18, Nikhil started trading in the stock market, using his father’s savings, to begin with. His elder brother Nithin was an inspiration for his foray into the world of stock trading. The two siblings gained valuable experience in this trade, investing their funds as well as that of friends and family.

Nikhil was quick to notice the complexities in the stockbroking process in India back then and was not particularly happy about the high brokerage charges. They started to save money towards building a trading platform.

The Anglo-Sanskrit portmanteau Zerodha meant zero and ‘rodha’, the latter being Sanskrit for obstacles. Nikhil Kamath formed the trading platform, Zerodha, in 2010 which is user-friendly as well as pocket-friendly. Nikhil wanted to increase the reach of Zerodha to ensure the scaling of his business and saw technology as the true beacon of hope.

Zerodha pioneered the discount broking model and used technology to build a robust and user-friendly platform. Nikhil’s company gained acceleration in the months around the pandemic when account openings skyrocketed. Young investors saw the pandemic as a market opportunity and Zerodha as their choice of platform. Zerodha today has more than 5 million users who account for 15% of trading in India.

By March this year, Nikhil was worth $1.7 billion, making him India’s youngest billionaire. Apart from Zerodha, Nikhil and Nithin run Rainmatter, which is a fintech fund and incubator, and a hedge fund named True Beacon.

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