Cover Nikhil Kamath (Photo: Zerodha)

The 34-year-old Zerodha co-founder grabbed headlines for being India's youngest billionaire. He was also a chess champion who dropped out of school at age 14

This story was first published on April 6, 2021, and updated on June 15, 2021.

Nikhil Kamath made waves last year when it was announced that he was India's youngest billionaire at only 34, according to the Forbes India rich list 2020.

Related: Meet the 22 Richest Self-Made Billionaires in Singapore For 2021, According to Forbes

The youngster joined the list alongside his brother, Nithin Kamath. Together, the pair founded Zerodha Broking, which is a discount stock brokerage, in 2010. Today, the brothers are worth USD$1.55 billion and are continuing to dominate the financial landscape in India. 

Most recently, Nikhil made headlines when he admitted on Twitter that he had cheated in order to win a charity chess match against a five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand.

The charity chess match was held on June 13 to raise funds for the Akshay Patra Foundation Covid-19 relief fund which helps to feed the needy. The match was live-streamed on and saw Nikhil play against celebrities such as Aamir Khan and Riteish Deshmukh.

However, it quickly came out that Nikhil had been suspended for violating the fair play policy. This was after it was discovered that he had cheated to win against Anand.

He admitted to this in a tweet that he put out and wrote, "I had help from the people analyzing the game, computers and the graciousness of Anand sir himself to treat the game as a learning experience. This was for fun and charity. In hindsight, it was quite silly as I didn’t realise all the confusion that can get caused due to this. Apologies."

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While Nikhil has received some backlash for cheating, both Viswanathan and the billionaire have also come out to defend the match. In a tweet, Viswanathan wrote, "Yesterday was a celebrity simul for people to raise money It was a fun experience upholding the ethics of the game. I just played the position on the board and expected the same from everyone".

Nikhil added in his tweet that it was ridiculous that anyone should think that he could beat the chess master. 

However, aside from his recent blunder, Nikhil is certainly still very accomplished, especially for his age. If this is the first time you're hearing of him, keep reading to find out some interesting facts about the billionaire. 

Related: Beijing Now Has the Most Billionaires in the World

1 / 5

He is the co-founder and CIO of Zerodha

Kamath co-founded India's largest trading brokerage in 2010 with his brother, Nithin. Over the last year, Zerodha—the name of which is derived from combining two words, zero and rodha (Sanskrit for barriers)—has seen its number of registered users double under the pandemic and reportedly has a daily turnover of $10 billion.

According to his official company bio: "Nikhil is an astute investor with over a decade of experience and an impeccable track record, who specialises in modelling sophisticated long term investment strategies and portfolios. He heads investments and risk management at Zerodha. An avid reader, he always appreciates a good game of chess."

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2 / 5

He dropped out of school at 14

He embarked on a two-year chess career, playing at both a national and international level. "Chess teaches you how to work under a structure in a system, but yet try and be creative within that system," he told CNBC. "Nobody was going to hire me without a college degree, so I had to do something that didn't require one."

3 / 5

He's an avid reader

A self-professed bookworm, Kamath owns more than 500 books and estimates he reads one to two books each week. 

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4 / 5

His interest in trading started in his teens

"I think trading started around the age of 17," he said in a 2017 Zerodha company video. "I had an active interest in stocks, that had been inculcated by my father and brother who were already investing at the time. And once you start making a little bit of money trading, you get more interested, and it has continued ever since."

"The great thing about trading is there is no ceiling," he told Arabian Business late last year. "If you’re a good trader you can buy a larger amount and if you’re continuing to make money you can scale and scale and scale. You’re not limited to many things and I think that was very attractive to me. Also, the fact that a job in trading doesn’t require any minimum qualification. Anybody can study the financial markets, you can read up online, you can buy books about different systems and methodologies of trading and investing and become a good trader on your own."

5 / 5

He also founded an asset management company

Kamath is also the co-founder, with his brother, of True Beacon, "an ecosystem of proprietary investment products, portfolio management advisory, capital markets services and tailored programs for strategic investors focused on India’s public and private markets".

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