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Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath shares his story

Nikhil Kamath, along with his elder brother Nithin Kamath, co-founded Zerodha, India’s biggest stock brokerage company in terms of volume. The brother also founded True Beacon, an asset management company. The brothers entered Forbes’ list of India’s 100 richest 2020.

The younger brother, in a recent interview, laid bare his life’s story. From being a school student who was tired of the conventional methods of education to starting a business at the age of 14 and eventually founding Zerodha, Kamath sheds light on his journey.

Kamath’s story was shared on Humans of Bombay‘s Facebook page where he spoke about his early life in school and inspiration that led to the formation of Zerodha. In the post he said, “While growing up, dad worked at a bank and was transferred often–I was 9 when we finally settled in Bangalore. But then, I absolutely hated school. Nobody told you ‘why’ you should do something, you just ‘had’ to do it; it was inhibiting.”

He claimed to have lost interest in formal education over time. At the age of 14 he started his first business of buying and selling used phones. Later, when his mom found out about the business, she did not approve of the venture and “flushed the phones down the toilet!”

Ahead of his board exams, the school was not willing to let Nikhil give his papers and called his parents. That’s when he decided to drop out.

He stated, “All my parents said was, ‘Don’t do something that embarrasses us too much!’ They had this misconception that I was smart–I was good at math, played Chess.”

Kamath did not have a strategy after he dropped out of school and claimed that he was constantly being asked about his future plans. He got his first job at 17 after he faked his birth certificate. The salary was 8,000.

He worked at the call centre from 4PM to 1AM and in the mornings he tried his hand at trading. In the post, he said, “I learnt a lot; when you move away from the family ecosystem and the judgement of relatives, you get down to the real stuff.“

He then stated, “Around 18, I began trading stocks properly; dad gave me some of his savings and said, ‘Manage it.’ He just had blind faith. After that, I convinced my manager at the call center to do the same–It worked for him, he told others. So during my last year there, I didn’t go to work a single day, but I was marked present; I’d even get incentives…because I was managing the entire team’s money!”

Kamath quit his job to start Kamath Associates with his older brother. In 2010, they launched Zerodha. He claims that “becoming a billionaire doesn’t change that–I’m still that guy who works 85% of the day and lives with the insecurity of, ‘What if it’s taken from me?’ So my only advice would be to not sweat about this stuff–5 years later, the things you’re worrying about now, won’t matter–so why not do what you have to today and have ‘stupid faith’ that it’ll all work out…somehow?”

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