Can’t live without it. Can’t live with it.

Can’t have too little. Can’t have too much.

The means to all ends. The ends to all means.

But if you think your relationship with money is complicated, spare a thought for Nithin Kamath of Zerodha Zerodha The Ken For Zerodha, Covid is a ladder Read more . Kamath, 40, and his brother Nikhil, 34, were both recent entrants in Forbes’ “India’s 100 Richest People” list list Forbes India's 100 Richest People Read more . They also topped Hurun India’s “40 and under self-made rich list 2020”, with an estimated fortune of Rs 24,000 crore ($3.3 billion). To top it all, his startup Zerodha is quite literally in the business of money. It’s India’s largest stockbroking firm in terms of both volume and customers.

Kamath sat down with The Ken to share his startup story, world views, life lessons, and how the business of money is at the centre of it all.

Q. Outside the investing community, most people don’t know much about Zerodha. How would you characterise what you do?

At its broadest level, Zerodha is a platform that lets you save or invest money in the most efficient way possible. We provide education, access to all instruments, and access to a bunch of platforms that can help a person decide what’s the best place to invest. Specifically, Zerodha is a stockbrokerage firm, but unlike traditional stockbrokers who provide advisory services, we stay away from investing tips and the like. Our focus as a discount brokerage is to function as a platform that empowers users to take informed financial decisions, rather than provide that advice ourselves. So, apart from advisory, we essentially do everything else that a typical stockbroker does.

Q. For people who don’t know stock markets, what exactly is a discount brokerage? How is Zerodha different from other stockbroking firms?

The brokerage industry is probably one of the oldest industries in India; and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is the oldest and one of the largest stock exchanges in Asia. Historically, BSE has been an association formed of stockbrokers. When we started Zerodha 10 years ago, there were 400-500 retail brokers in the country. Out of these, the top 20 were like 80% of the market. A lot of the remaining 380 people were these guys sitting on the street or in small offices in Mumbai, with small clients.

The large ones were the likes of ICICI, HDFC, Sharekhan and Reliance. All these firms operated with a pricing model that charged a set percentage fee based on the value of the stock transaction.


Sumanth Raghavendra

Sumanth is a serial entrepreneur with more than eighteen years experience in running startups. He is currently the founder of Deck App Technologies, a Bangalore-based startup attempting to re-imagine productivity software for the Post-PC era. Sumanth’s columns appear regularly in leading publications. He holds MBA degrees from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, USA.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at detailing the error or queries.