Nikhil Kamath, a 37-year-old Indian entrepreneur, has made a name for himself in the world of finance and philanthropy. Despite having no formal education beyond high school, Kamath co-founded Zerodha, a retail stockbroker, and True Beacon, an asset management company.
In 2023, he also found himself on the Forbes billionaires list, showcasing his remarkable journey from a call center job to a prominent figure in the finance industry. This article explores the life and career of Nikhil Kamath, delving into his early days, the founding of Zerodha, True Beacon, and his philanthropic endeavors.
Early Life and Education
Nikhil Kamath was born on September 5, 1986, in Karnataka, India. So, as of October 2023, Nikhil is currently 37 years old. A pivotal decision marked his early life. He dropped out of school after completing the 10th grade, pursuing formal education. This unconventional path didn’t deter Kamath; instead, it set the stage for his remarkable journey in the financial world.
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Career: From Call Center to Financial Mogul
Kamath’s Early Days
Nikhil Kamath embarked on his career in an unconventional manner. He initially worked at a call center while simultaneously exploring the world of equity trading. This dual approach allowed him to gain real-world experience while nurturing his interest in finance. His early experiences laid the foundation for his future success.
Founding Kamath & Associates
In 2006, Kamath took a significant step by becoming a sub-broker. Teaming up with his brother Nithin Kamath, they co-founded Kamath & Associates. Their firm’s primary goal was to manage high-net-worth individual portfolios in the public markets. This venture marked Kamath’s first foray into the financial sector and hinted at the entrepreneurial spirit that would define his career.
The Rise of Zerodha
In 2010, Nikhil Kamath, alongside his brother Nithin Kamath, co-founded Zerodha, a game-changing player in the Indian brokerage industry. Zerodha provided brokerage services for trading in stocks, currencies, and commodities:
I’ve been a trader for 19 years. I’ve been doing the same job for how old you guys (Zepto founders) are. So, it is okay if I make a little money: Nikhil Kamath
FYI: Zerodha reported a profit of INR 2,907 Cr in FY23. Meanwhile, Zepto, which recently became an 🦄, incurred a loss… pic.twitter.com/XUAXlMGcZ6
— Debarghya Sil (@debarghyawrites) October 3, 2023
What set Zerodha apart was its introduction of a discount brokerage model, significantly reducing the transaction commission for its users. This innovation democratized investing, making it accessible to the masses.
True Beacon: Venturing into Asset Management
Nikhil Kamath’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop with Zerodha. In 2020, he co-founded True Beacon, an asset management company:
Nikhil Kamath, Co-Founder, Zerodha, Gruhas & True Beacon Shares His Take On Online Gaming Industry
— Business Today (@business_today) August 9, 2023
True Beacon specializes in helping ultra-high-net-worth individuals invest in the Indian markets through privately pooled investment vehicles. This venture expanded Kamath’s influence in the financial sector and demonstrated his commitment to innovation in wealth management.
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Gruhas: Diversifying Investments
In 2021, Kamath, along with Abhijeet Pai, co-founded Gruhas, a real estate investments and prop tech company. Gruhas focuses on investing in incubators, startups, and special situations through its prop tech-focused fund. This diversification showcased Kamath’s willingness to explore new opportunities and contribute to the growth of emerging industries.
One of the most significant milestones in Nikhil Kamath’s life occurred in June 2023 when he pledged to donate 50% of his wealth to charitable causes, including climate change, education, and healthcare, by signing The Giving Pledge. This commitment underscored his desire to use his success to bring about positive change in society.
Controversies and Lessons Learned
While Kamath’s career has been marked by success, it has not been without its share of controversies. In June 2021, he participated in an online charity chess match against five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand to raise funds for COVID-19 relief.
During the match, Kamath used the assistance of chess analysts and computers to gain an advantage over Anand. His chess profile was also banned:
So the Zerodha CEO Nikhil Kamath played a charity chess match against Visvanathan Anand for COViD relief.
Gamed the system to win.
Got his chess profile banned.
A little shameful to cheat to win against a World champ. pic.twitter.com/67GvU2j6tD
— MB (@desiboho) June 13, 2021
However, he later apologized for his actions, acknowledging that it was a learning experience and that he had underestimated the confusion it could cause.
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Personal Life: Beyond Finance
In addition to his career, Nikhil Kamath’s personal life offers insights into the man behind his success. He was born in Shimoga, Karnataka, and is a Hindu of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin caste. He is a non-vegetarian and has two tattoos, one on his left wrist reading ‘Shalom’ in English and Hebrew, and another on his right arm that reads “BE HERE NOW.“
Kamath’s marital status is divorced, with his marriage to Amanda Puravankara, the Director at Provident Housing Ltd in Bangalore, ending in divorce in 2019. He has been romantically linked to Manushi Chhillar from 2021 to 2023, and there have been rumors of a relationship with actor Rhea Chakraborty in 2023.
Nikhil Kamath’s journey from a high school dropout to a billionaire entrepreneur is a testament to his unwavering determination and innovative spirit. Through the founding of Zerodha, True Beacon, and Gruhas, he has left an indelible mark on the finance and real estate industries.
Moreover, his commitment to philanthropy and his willingness to learn from his mistakes highlight his character and values. As he continues to make waves in the world of finance and beyond, Nikhil Kamath serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and a beacon of hope for those looking to create meaningful change in the world.