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Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath sat down for an interview with The Print’s Editor-In-Chief, Shekhar Gupta. During this conversation, he delved into various aspects of his life journey and discussed India’s growth trajectory, the global economy, and more. He also shared anecdotes from his early career, including his first job and its impact on him.

Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath.(Mint file)

Kamath earned his first paycheck at the age of 17. He recounted his days working at a call centre in Bengaluru. “I used to earn 8,000 in my first job at a call centre called 24 bar 7 in Bengaluru, selling accidental health insurance for a company called Stone Bridge, the UK shift between 4:00 pm to 1:00 am,” Kamath said.

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He added, “At the age of 17, I was feeling really good about myself because I had wage. I had access to more money than my friends had access to at that point of time…. You start feeling unnerved when your friends graduate from college and get their first job.”

“There is a societal stigma around a job which doesn’t have an entry barrier. It could be any job. Call centre job did not require a degree, it did not require expertise or proficiency of a certain kind. So, societal stigma is there. It’s never you can be in a call centre earning one lakh rupee a month, but if your son is a doctor earning 25,000 rupees a month, the doctor gets more societal acceptance,” he continued.

Although Kamath sometimes felt self-conscious as his peers pursued more conventional professions like medicine or engineering, he emphasised the importance of his unique journey.

“So, when my classmates graduated and became doctors and engineers, and I used to have a science background, you start feeling a little conscious. But I think by the time we were all 25, I had that 7-8 years runway in life where I had been doing things for a certain amount of time. So I had grown in that own bucket, and that bucket is very relative. Beyond a point, you are comparing yourself to your peer group, no matter how the peer group was. So, it didn’t ever hurt me psychologically in the manner that it might have hurt many others because the circumstances were conducive to me doing what I was doing at that point of time. Today, if I had to reenact it, it would be different,” Kamath further expressed.

The entrepreneur also said that he feels Bengaluru has the largest paper wealth, which creates an appearance of wealth but is not real money.

“It’s not real money. Bengaluru has the most paper wealth and very little expendable wealth. The paper rich from here made money in tech companies, but tech companies have no cash. Paper money gives you the appearance of wealth,” he said.

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