Dropping Out to Cashing In: Nikhil Kamath’s Remarkable Rise to India’s Youngest Billionaire

Dropping Out to Cashing In: Nikhil Kamath’s Remarkable Rise to India’s Youngest Billionaire
Dropping Out to Cashing In: Nikhil Kamath's Remarkable Rise to India's Youngest Billionaire

Is it just me, or is skipping school or the college exit door like a secret handshake to the world of success and stardom? I mean, there are so many dropouts-turned-superstars out there that it's starting to seem like an underground club, where the membership fee is ditching the classroom.

On a lighter note, we usually come across so many successful people who don’t hold any proper or suitable college degree. But such people have created a history that stands as a testimony to their intellect for all the future to come.

In this article, we explore the journey of one such person, who dropped out of school to later found India’s largest stockbroker – Zerodha.

Nikhil Kamath - Biography

Name Nikhil Kamath
Birthplace Karnataka, India
Born September 5, 1986
Nationality Indian
Education School dropout
Position Co-founder and CFO
Net worth $1.1 billion

Nikhil Kamath - Early life
Nikhil Kamath - Career
Nikhil Kamath - Entering the Trading World
Nikhil Kamath - Personal life
Nikhil Kamath - Podcast
Nikhil Kamath - Zerodha
Nikhil Kamath - Personal Investments
Nikhil Kamath - Partner Investments
Nikhil Kamath - Philanthropy
Nikhil Kamath - Controversies
Nikhil Kamath - Awards & Recognitions

Nikhil Kamath - Early life

Nikhil Kamath was born in Karnataka, India, in 1986. Since his dad was a bank employee, he often got transfers. Nikhil was 9 years old when they finally settled in Bangalore.

Though Nikhil displayed a strong aptitude for mathematics and problem-solving from a young age, he hated the traditional way of taking formal school education. In Bangalore, he attended a local school. Since the school didn’t let him appear for the 10th board exams citing his disinterest in studies as a reason, he decided to drop out of school. Thus, Nikhil didn’t have a formal mode of education after that.

Nikhil Kamath - Career

After dropping out of school in 10th grade, which was a huge decision, Nikhil Kamath's journey to success was a remarkable tale of determination and resourcefulness.

After leaving school without a clear plan, he found himself working at a call center at the age of 17. To make ends meet, he even faked his birth certificate to land the job, which paid him a meager salary of ₹8,000.

Nikhil Kamath Discusses About His Investments In Equities, Debt, & Gold | CNBC TV18 Podcast

Nikhil Kamath - Entering the Trading World

During those challenging times, he labored at the call center from 4 PM to 1 AM, and in the mornings, he delved into the world of trading. Nikhil learned the ropes of life outside his family's protective cocoon, and he discovered that it was in the outside world where the real lessons were learned.

Around the age of 18, Nikhil decided to venture into stock trading more seriously. His father entrusted him with some of his savings. This leap of faith from his father marked the beginning of Nikhil's journey as a trader. He not only managed his father's money successfully but also convinced his manager at the call center to invest in stocks.

It turned out to be a fruitful endeavor, and soon, others followed suit, allowing Nikhil to manage their funds. In his final year at the call center, he cleverly managed the entire team's money, which meant he didn't have to go to work physically, yet he received incentives.

Zerodha's Inception

Nikhil's ambition eventually led him to leave his job and team up with his older brother Nithin Kamath, to launch Kamath Associates in 2010, which later evolved into the highly successful brokerage firm, Zerodha. His journey from a call center employee to a prominent figure in the financial world is a testament to his resourcefulness and dedication.

Zerodha Success Story - The Largest Stock Broker in India
Zerodha is an Indian financial services company founded by Nithin and Nikhil Kamath in 2010. Check out Zerodha’s business model, revenue, profit, and more.

Nikhil Kamath - Personal life

Nikhil Kamath resides in the city of Bangalore, India. His parents are U.R. Kamath, an employee of Canara Bank, and Revathi Kamath. He was married to Amanda Puravankara who was the director of Provident Housing Ltd., Bangalore. The couple reportedly separated within a year of their marriage. Kamath is an avid reader and a chess player.

Nikhil Kamath - Podcast

Nikhil Kamath also hosts a podcast series "WTF is", in which he interviews industry leaders and close friends in light-hearted but thought-provoking conversations. The program discusses various subjects including technology, social media, alternative energy, and more.

Nikhil Kamath - Zerodha

Zerodha Website
Zerodha Website

Zerodha, a game-changing player in India's trading and investment scene, commenced its operations on August 15, 2010, with a clear-cut mission: to remove the hurdles that traders and investors often faced, especially in terms of cost, support, and technology. The company's name, "Zerodha," cleverly combines "Zero" with "Rodha," a Sanskrit word meaning barrier, to reflect their commitment to this vision.

Today, Zerodha proudly stands as one of India's largest stockbrokers, thanks to its innovative pricing models and cutting-edge technology developed in-house.

They boast a massive client base of over 1 crore, managing millions of orders daily through their user-friendly investment platforms. Their influence is felt in the trading world, accounting for a significant 15% of all retail trading volumes in India.

Another creation of Kamath, True Beacon is a fee-free investment management company that targets investors with extremely high net worths.

Also, Rainmatter is their venture capital fund and incubator that invests in fintech companies and ventures that promote financial inclusion.

Nikhil Kamath - Personal Investments

Nikhil has made some significant personal investments:

Announced Date Organization Name Lead Investor Funding Round Money Raised
September 11, 2023 Pee Safe - Series B ₹250 million
June 26, 2023 Mainstreet - Seed Round ₹2 million
January 31, 2023 Nourish You - Seed Round ₹163.7 million
July 26, 2022 Nas Company - Venture Round ₹12 million
March 15, 2022 Licious - Series F ₹11.5 billion
February 8, 2022 Kofluence Yes Seed Round ₹4 million
January 27, 2022 Growth School - Seed Round ₹375 million
April 1, 2021 Third Wave Coffee Yes Seed Round -
March 17, 2021 Vokal - Secondary Market -

Nikhil Kamath - Partner Investments

In addition to his personal investments, Nikhil has also made investments as a partner:

Announced Date Organization Name Investor Name Lead Investor Funding Round Money Raised
October 13, 2023 Emoha Elder Care Gruhas Proptech Yes Series B $11 million
April 5, 2023 Ossus Biorenewables Gruhas Proptech Yes Seed Round ₹197 million
March 15, 2023 Spirit Media Gruhas Proptech Yes Venture Round -
February 25, 2022 Licious Gruhas Proptech Yes Series F ₹91.4 million
February 17, 2022 Omnipresent Robot Technologies Gruhas Proptech Yes Venture Round -

Nikhil Kamath - Philanthropy

Nikhil is also known for his philanthropy:

  • Nikhil Kamath recently joined the list of wealthy people around the world who have signed the Giving Pledge & pledged to donate 50% of their money to philanthropic causes. Notably, Kamath is the youngest Indian philanthropist to join the Giving Pledge.
  • Kamath also launched the Young India Philanthropic Pledge (YIPP), which mandates the signatories who are below 45 years of age to donate 25% of their fortune with a minimum spend of ₹1 crore per year.
  • According to the EdelGive-Hurun India Philanthropy List 2022, Kamath donated ₹100 crore of his wealth in 2022, along with his brother and co-founder of Zerodha, Nithin Kamath.

Nikhil Kamath - Controversies

Nikhil Kamath competed in a charity chess match against Viswanathan Anand, a five-time world chess champion. He won the match, much to the amazement of everyone. However, the multibillionaire eventually apologized for beating the chess champion unfairly and acknowledged doing so.

He tweeted, "I had help from the people analyzing the game, computers, and the graciousness of Anand sir himself to treat the game as a learning experience. This was for fun and charity. In hindsight, it was quite silly as I didn't realize all the confusion that can get caused due to this. Apologies."

Nikhil Kamath - Awards & Recognitions

Here are some prominent awards and recognitions for Nikhil Kamath:

  • He was among the Forbes India ‘30 under 30’ young entrepreneurs, in 2016
  • He was listed as the richest self-made Indian under 40 by ‘IIFL Wealth Hurun India 40 & Under Self-Made Rich List 2022’
  • He made it into Forbes' list of the world’s billionaires in 2023


What is Zerodha and how does it work?

Zerodha operates on an online discount brokerage model, exclusively providing customers with online trading services.

Who are the founders of Zerodha?

Nikhil Kamath and Nithin Kamath co-founded Zerodha.

When was Zerodha founded?

Zerodha was founded in the year 2010.

Why do people prefer Zerodha?

Zerodha's user-friendly trading platforms make it an excellent option for beginner investors.

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