People with degrees with IITs and IIMs are in hot demand in India’s corporate world, but one of India’s most successful startups has never hired anyone with a degree from these storied institutions.
Zerodha CEO Nithin Kamath has revealed that Zerodha has never hired anyone from an IIT or IIM. “We’ve never hired a single person from IIT and IIM till now because we’ve found it very tough to fit such people within the organization” he revealed during a podcast.
Kamath hinted that Zerodha doesn’t hire from IITs or IIMs because they usually produce graduates who’re more focused on quickly developing their careers instead of thinking-long term about helping his business. “The thing about IITs and IIMs is that when you’re in that kind of environment, you’re wired to think about how quickly you can grow in life,” Kamath continued. “This culturally doesn’t fit well (at Zerodha) because we can’t tell people how quickly they can grow.”
“When someone comes to me and says Nithin, how quickly I’ll become from this to this (get a promotion), I say dude I don’t know. I don’t even know where our business is going to be, how can I tell you where you are going to be?” he says.
Kamath said that while Zerodha had never hired anyone from the IITs or IIMs, he wasn’t averse to such candidates provided they fit Zerodha’s criteria. “If you’re okay getting up every day, doing something different, and looking to keep getting better as a business — if you’re okay with taking that chance, we can hire you,” he added. He however added that finding such people was hard within the IITs and IIMs, and even the startup ecosystem. “People in the startup ecosystem are culturally wired a certain way today, which is “I want to grow fast, and I want to grow at any cost. I want to quickly grow from point A to point B.” I don’t think there’s anything in life that can happen quickly,” he added.
Kamath also said that he didn’t consider educational degrees while hiring candidates. “At least for the core team, the people who do important stuff at Zerodha, we see if they’re passionate about the cause. Education doesn’t matter,” Kamath says.
This is an unconventional approach, but Zerodha clearly seems to know what it’s doing. The company reported profits of Rs. 2000 crore last year, which is the highest ever for an Indian internet company. Kamath is personally worth Rs. 17,500 crore, and is one of the richest people in India.
And he seems to have gotten there by throwing convention by the wayside. While most startups look to raise external funding to quickly grow their businesses, Zerodha chose to self-fund its operations, and grew slowly over a decade. While most companies have massive marketing and advertising budgets, Zerodha has never spent any money on marketing, and chooses to instead let its product do the talking. And while most startups fall over each other to hire the best graduates from IITs and IIMs, Zerodha has chosen to not hire a single employee from these colleges. Zerodha seems to regularly do things few other Indian businesses even dare to try out, and its outsize success over the years could eventually end up turning conventional Indian business thinking on its head.