Life begins at the end of your comfort zone – Young Indian Entrepreneurs

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How do regular college students in India spend their free time? Watch a movie, follow TV series, listen to music or go out party instead of or even pick up bad habits like drinking or smoking. But not these young extraordinaire! They spent their time building a business so huge that they had to quit their education to completely focus on their work. These young lads are conquering the world one step at a time.
1. Varun Shoor CEO, Kayako

Kayako is a software company that develops a cloud-based customer service platform and on-premises help desk and customer support software. Varun Shoor started learning programming at the age of 13 and was able to start off Kayako by the age of 17. He never went to college so that he could focus on his business. In 2001, he bought a laptop for himself with the first money he earned. In the initial days, he cleverly responded to his clients from different accounts which he created for himself to give the impression of being a large company. He knew no one would take a 17-year-old kid seriously who is on the other side of the world. This story of a small start-up in Jalandhar to a huge enterprise in London proves hard work definitely pays off.

2. Ritesh Agarwal  CEO, OYO Rooms

OYO Rooms provide an online platform for a standardized and affordable stay. I am guessing, you or one of your friends would already stay at one of their rooms and experienced their comfortable and convenient services. Now an astute businessman, Ritesh once sold SIM cards in his hometown, Odisha. He was the first Indian to be chosen for Thiel Fellowship, where he was given $100,000 grant by early Facebook investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. The Thiel Fellowship is a two-year program given to entrepreneurs below 20 years of age who skip or stop college to start running their own business. Ritesh thought really big and wanted to create an impact and hence put most of the Thiel grant into his business. Such clarity of thought and purpose at this age is unusual and India hopes to produce more young entrepreneurs like him.

3. Azhar Iqubal CEO, Inshorts

I hardly know anyone who doesn’t use this app. Crisp news in less than 60 words of significant matters is all today’s slothful generation needs. This powerful app works like the newspaper in our pockets. Bored with mundane college life, Azhar Iquabal was looking for something challenging and came up with a brilliant idea. All IIT dropouts, Azhar Iquabal along with Anunay Arunav and Deepit Purkayastha, built this application which works for Android and iOS. This Delhi-based startup was founded in 2013. Started from a Facebook page, it became India’s highest-rated news app with more than 3 million downloads serving more than half a billion page views every month.

4. Deepak Ravindran CEO, Innoz Technologies

Innoz or SMSGyan is an offline search engine that allowed users to immediately get answers to their queries by sending an SMS. Over two billion queries were answered by the app in around five years. Deepak along with three of his college friends co-founded Innoz in September 2008. It became one of the largest offline search engines in the world. But once the smartphones hit the Indian markets in 2013, Innoz had to be plateaued. In early 2014, he came up with Quest which was a Q&A platform and marketed it in the US but this app failed to gain much recognition because of competitors like Quora and Jelly. Back in India now, he came up with Lookup, which connects people with local businesses. He saw that people are still using the traditional way of calling the stores, and saw this as a great opportunity to attack this untapped market. Lookup has no major competitors in India right now and is doing really well with over one million downloads. This story of ups and downs teaches us to never give up your passion.

5. Bhavin Turakhia CEO, Directi

Directi is a large scale company that earns a revenue of over $350 million/year. It employs 1500+ people across 8 global offices with over 9 million customers. It offers services across diverse areas like social networking software, DNS management, instant messaging, large-scale billing & provisioning platforms, anti-spam, and anti-virus solutions and much more. Bhavin along with his younger brother Divyank co-founded Directi in 1998. From a startup, the young Turakhia brothers flourished to a huge business that develops mass-market web products serving millions of global customers. Bhavin is also the founder of CodeChef. Since school, Bhavin loved to code and spent a lot of time after school exploring various programming languages. He had created a stock market simulation game to track stock prices while he was in class tenth.  His entrepreneurial passion and zest were clear since the early days and he had decided to contribute something valuable to the world. Bhavin believes in pure hard work and hands-on experience. He also believes that life is a continuous learning process.

Anup Mehta
Co-founder, Z Nation Lab

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