Have you ever heard of a man of net worth $800 million does not own any expensive car? I would guess your answer will be NO. But you can expect this kind of mindset from this Indian entrepreneur Kunal Shah. The man who founded many billion-dollar star-tup including Free charge and CRED and invest in many multi-million dollar start-up. This man’s personality is a perfect example of a business genius and an extremely curious human being with a great wisdom of life. Let’s dive deep into his biography through this article.
|Born||20 May 1983 (39),|
|Education|| Bachelors in philosophy from|
Mumbai’s Wilson College,
MBA drop-out from NMIMS
|Title||Founder and CEO of CRED|
|Net Worth||$800 million|
Kunal Shah was born on 20 May 1983 in Mumbai in a typical Gujrati family. His father had a small pharmaceutical distribution business in his hometown. His mother worked in insurance sector. As a child, he was among those kids who have many questions about everything. In other words, he was always a curious person which you can see anywhere in his interviews, twitter and LinkedIn posts etc.
Being in Gujrati family, he started working early when he was in class v. He used to go to his father’s office. When he was a 16 year old, a financial crisis hits their family. His father’s business was not doing well. So, because he was the elder of two brothers, naturally he started working seriously from that age. He started working in a data-entry job. And because of that crisis, he discovered a lot of ways to make money. He used to sell CDs, mehndi cones. He also used to teach computer science to his neighbourhood children and run a cyber cafe from his house. And these experiences were the real teacher for him to do business and understand entrepreneurship deeply.
Kunal Shah did his schooling from a normal school. He was always kind of a curious guy and he wanted to study science in collage. But because his financial situation was not good at that time, he was doing many things to sustain his family and his study. So, he end up doing Bachelors in philosophy from Mumbai’s Wilson Collage because there were an option to study in morning hours. After collage, he used to go his work. He really enjoyed philosophy and he did score 70% in the final exam.
After several years of completing his BA degree, he went to Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in Mumbai for a part-time MBA course. By then he was also running a BPO (business process outsourcing). One of the main reason for him to go into a management school was to learn. But he did not get what he was expecting from a management school. He was frustrated from the system of education. So, he finally dropped out. The only thing which excited him in his MBA course was Consumer behaviour and marketing. And he became more curious in these two topics later in life.
According to Kunal Shah, his education was not what he taught in his school or collage but what he have learned from his curiosity, doing businesses, understanding humans and meeting people who are intelligent than him.
How he started his company – Kunal Shah as a founder
Saying that business was always in his blood will not be wrong. He was always a founder. From his early age what he was doing? He was only focused on finding solutions of problems for which people will pay money. And this is the fundamental quality of any founder and of any wealthy person.
First company – PaisaBack
He started his first company PaisaBack in 2009 after dropping out from MBA. The concept of PaisaBack was to help retailers do cashback rewards in their stores. Basically, he PaisaBack wanted to promote cashbacks. And this venture was profitable from the very first month. But soon, he realized that the market for this business is fragmented. So, he decided to pivot from this business.
Second company – Freecharge
After PaisaBack, he started Freecharge with Sandeep Tandon his co-founder. The idea of Freecharge was enable users to recharge their prepaid mobile phones and after every successful recharge earn rewards. And the idea worked and the business becoming successful. It got funded by Sequoia Capital in 2010.
In an interview, he said that a funny incident happened at the time of funding. So, the investors asked him what is your CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)? So, he said I don’t know what is CAC. So, the investors explained him CAC and then again asked him the same question. So, he laughed and said “ZERO”. The answer amazed the investors. And this was the time when Freecharge was doing 14,000-15,000 transaction a day.
In 2015, Shah sold Freecharge to Snapdeal for INR 2,800 in cash and stocks.
Third company – CRED
This man has a quality of creator which made him so successful. In an interview, he said rather be in the consumer’s community try to be a creator or try to be in the creator’s community. And after PaisaBack and Freecharge, again creating his third billion dollar company named CRED satisfied his words perfectly.
In 2018, Shah started CRED. CRED is an Indian fintech company, based in Bangalore. It is a reward-based credit card payments app. CRED also lets users make house rent payments and provide short-term credit lines. Unlike his previous startup, he only focuses in a niche market in CRED. And who are the target market of CRED? Only 1% of Indian population who are most wealthiest in the country. He is trying to build a community of trustworthy people who are very disciplined with their money. CRED have got from many investors. And his company is doing great. Currently, CRED is also focusing in the international market. Currently, the valuation of company is estimated around $6 billion.
Despites of many ups and downs, Kunal Shah made all his company very big. Through his knowledge and wisdom, he have made his name in the market. And this is inspiring and will inspire all the next entrepreneurs.
Kunal shah as an investor
People who have built a great business knows which business is going to be great. And Kunal Shah knows it very well. He started his investment journey in 2016 by joining Y combinator (an American incubator). After that, from January 2017 to December 2017, he worked as advisor at Sequoia Capital. And then he also worked as a advisor at The Times Group and AngelList for several months.
He is one of the top Angel investors in India and around the globe. He have invested in many startups including Unacademy (Ed-Tech startup), Razorpay (billion-dollor fintech startup), BharatPe, Rapido etc. According to Crunchbase, there are 218 companies in the investment portfolio of Kunal Shah.
In a LinkedIn post, kunal Shah quoted that “Learning from failure comes to those who don’t blame others for their failure.” And it is true. Although, he may failed in many things but because he do not think those events as failure, then it is not our right to point out those events as failure of Kunal Shah.
1. When two people see the same thing from their point of view and believe that what I am seeing is right without understanding the other person’s point of view then conflict is natural. And, this can be seen in the comment section of Kunal Shah’s twitter posts. But those discussions are useless until we find a better solution or better answer which is logical to everyone.
2. One controversy started on the valuation of CRED Which was resolved after some time.
3. Recently, on twitter Kunal Shah revealed his salary of 15,000/month. And it is very unusual to hear right? Yes, it is. Nobody can believe it until he deeply research about it. And this thing also led to heated discussion. Some said it is for gaining publicity.
Kunal Shah is one of those personality who do not believe in any particular philosophy but interested in every philosophy which leads to truth. He also believes that in startup people are also seeking truth. He read many great philosophers including Socrates. One of the philosophy which was already in people’s blood was asking too many questions but with growing older people forget asking questions. But Kunal Shah is a kind of personality which is exactly opposite to this general trend of not asking questions. He asks a lot of questions. And every great philosopher said this thing that everyone should ask questions too many questions.
Interests of Kunal Shah
Kunal Shah loves playing poker and chess. As a curious person, Kunal Shah has many interests. He loves to travel different places and observe people behavior. Although, he is not a fan of reading but when he gets curious about something then he reads everything from books to online articles etc. He has also interest in memes.
Kunal Shah married to Bhavna Shah. She is a professional graphic designer. Because Kunal Shah is tech guy and his wife is also a techie. And they both live happily.
Philanthropy or Investing in Job Creators
On the topic of philanthropic works, Kunal Shah thinks very differently. According to him, it is better to invest in job creators rather than doing philanthropic work. And it seems quite logical.
For example, When anyone donates X amount to 100 people then those 100 people will get benefits. But when anyone donates X amount to a job creator and if he give 100 people a job then all the family members of that family will get benefit.
Books recommended by Kunal Shah
Although, Shah is not a fan of book reading. But he read some books especially those books which is written about humans. And here is the top 5 books recommended by Kunal Shah.
1) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
2) Hard things about Hard things by Ben Horowitz
3) Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel
4) Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
5) The Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma
Awards and Honours
In his career, he received many awards and honours. some of those are
(i) Comeback Award – Economic Times from Economic Times in 2016
(ii) Economic Times 40 under 4o by Times of India in 2016
(iii) Fortune 40 under 40 by Fortune in 2016
(iv) Fortune 40 under 40 by Fortune Magazine in 2015
Unknown facts about Kunal Shah
(1) He started working when he was in class v. He used to go to his father’s office. And he used to get 5 rupees per day.
(2) Kunal Shah became financially free at the age of 16.
(3) While pursuing MBA he was running his own BPO business.
(4) Kunal Shah has also featured in the famous web-series of “TVF Pitchers “ as a judge of a startup event.
(5) He is one of top Angel investor in India. He even give funding from just a WhatsApp message if the idea is great.
So, in this blog we have known the life story of one of India’s marvellous entrepreneur and one of the curious human being Kunal Shah. We saw a journey full of struggles, how a 15 year old boy started working in his teenage to support his family and because of his knowledge and wisdom achieved a great success in his life. We have tried to saw the light on all the aspects of Kunal Shah. Team vedaon hopes that you learned a lot from this article and you will surely apply these learnings in your life to be successful. If you think there is something missing in this article or you want to say anything then please comment in the comment section below. We would love to connect with you.
1. What is the net worth of Kunal Shah?
– The Net worth of Kunal Shah is estimated around $800 million.
2. In how many companies, Kunal Shah has invested?
– According to a recent report of Crunchbase, he has made 227 investments.
3. What exactly Kunal Shah’s company CRED do?
– CRED is an Indian fintech company, based in Bangalore. It is a reward-based credit card payments app. CRED also lets users make house rent payments and provide short-term credit lines
4. What is the name of Kunal Shah’s wife?
– Bhavna Shah is the name of his wife. She is a professional graphic designer.
5. Why Kunal Shah is so rich and wealthy?
– Kunal Shah is an investor and founder of successful startups. He made investments in many startups which are now a very successful companies. So, collectively these are the reason of him being rich and wealthy.
6. Where I can learn more about Kunal Shah?
– You can learn from these types of articles, YouTube videos and of course from his social media accounts.