Why Cred Founder Kunal Shah Studied Philosophy In College

There’s no shortage of IIT and IIM founders in India’s startup landscape, but there’s a hugely successful entrepreneur who has a very different background.

Freecharge and Cred founder Kunal Shah has a degree in philosophy from Wilson College in Mumbai. in a post on X, InfoEdge’s Sanjeev Bikhchandani revealed why Kunal Shah chose to study philosophy. It turns out it wasn’t a choice at all.

“I asked (Kunal Shah) why he studied philosophy,” Bikhchandani posted on X. “Was it because his marks in Class 12 only allowed him admission into a philosophy course, or was it out of an interest in philosophy,” he continued.

“(Kunal Shah) told me it was neither. His family had gone bankrupt and he had to work as a delivery boy and a data entry operator full time. And philosophy was the only subject where the classes were from 8am to 10am,” Bikhchandani wrote. “Salute,” he continued.

A philosophy degree makes Kunal Shah a rarity in India’s tech space, which is dominated by either engineers from IITs or MBAs from IIMs. But that doesn’t seem to have stopped him from ending up with one of the biggest exits in India’s startup ecosystem when Freecharge was acquired by Snapdeal for $450 million, or when his new venture, Cred, ended up being worth $6.4 billion. Along the way, Shah has become one of the most prolific angel investors in the Indian tech space, and has backed some of India’s most successful startups.

And Kunal Shah seems to believe that his philosophy degree has played a part in where he’s ended up. He’s posted on X that philosophy is one of the three courses every child should study. “3 basic courses that every kid should be taught from school days: 1. Critical thinking 2. Philosophy 3. Cognitive biases,” he’s said.

He also believes that all wealth is a philosophical pursuit. “More you understand the world, more asymmetric your information becomes to others. Wealth grows on asymmetric information. Philosophy = philo (love) + sophy (knowledge). All wealth, material or spiritual, is a philosophical pursuit,” he’s said on X.

And he’s even gone on to say that philosophy is a path towards making money. “Philosophy = philo (love) + sophy (knowledge). At heart of all success is becoming very knowledgeable about many things. If there‚Äôs one guaranteed way to be rich is to be excellent at seeking truth,” he’s said. And given how he’s now worth more than $1 billion, it appears that his Philosophy degree from Wilson college has certainly played its part.