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We Do Not Chase Revenue Targets at Zerodha, Says Founder Nithin Kamath

Building a 2 billion dollar company without setting revenue targets may sound unconventional, but Zerodha founder Nithin Kamath insists that there is no one way to build businesses. “If you keep working for your customer and the timing is right, it is possible to scale great heights without adopting the traditional way of doing business,” said the entrepreneur at ‘Isha Insight: The DNA of Success’. The event, being organised by the Isha Foundation, is a four-day business leadership programme in which well-known businesspersons from 20 countries are sharing their insights. In his session, Nithin traced back the phenomenal growth of their brokerage firm that has 7.5 millon users now. The 41-year-old entrepreneur began by speaking about the time he learnt trading from friends and found that he was rather good at it. He was 17 and pursuing an engineering course in Bengaluru. Soon, he started receiving requests from others to manage their money and that led him to open Kamath and Associates to manage portfolios. In 2010, he and his younger brother, Nikhil Kamath, started Zerodha which is the the largest stock broker in India.

Speaking about the features that made their platform stand out from others, Nithin said: “We were the first platform to offer a transparent and no-frills brokerage platform to our customers. In financial services, intermediaries make their buck by making things complex and opaque. We introduced a Brokerage Calculator which was unheard of before. In fact, our initiatives helped the broking industry in India clean itself up and offer better incentives to the customer.” The entrepreneur strongly advocated the practice of listening to gut instinct and said that he never took a decision that went against his better judgement. “I think we are accidental businessmen. Thankfully, by not having any external investor, we have never been nudged to do something that did not agree with us,” Nithin added.

Zerodha was making profits by 2013 and never used any external capital. Stating that no one in his firm has revenue targets, Nithin explained their manpower hiring strategy. “We mostly hire freshers because the experienced ones come with their baggage of working in a different environment where the business is solely driven by targets. Our firm’s main focus points are product quality and customer experience.”

Speaking about the kind of business ventures the country needs right now, the entrepreneur added: “You need not be loud to be aggressive. You can be a conscious business that lets the product do the talking, that thinks about giving back. India needs a lot of big businesses which are conscious about what is happening around them.”

Earlier in the day, Sadhguru, the founder of Isha Foundation, said: “The most important thing for entrepreneurs is to cultivate a burning desire in their hearts. Great leaders can be manifested during challenging times because it is during those times that people look for guidance and leadership.”

Day 1 of Isha Insight also saw a knowledge-sharing session by Atika Malik, former COO and chief strategy officer at Cheil India. She shared, “Purpose and profit go hand in hand. 66 per cent of customers actually prefer to do business with organisations that have a clear and transparent culture.” Explaining the Hummingbird Effect, Raman Roy, chairman and managing director of Quatrro Global Services, said, “An event in one field can trigger completely unexpected outcomes in entirely different domains. Disruption or innovation changes the basis of competition bringing a totally new set of industry dynamics. In music industry, revenue from sales of CDs plunged 84 percent in just 10 years. Streaming came out of nowhere to generate 2.4 billion dollars of revenue,” he added.

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