Kshitij Kumar is a 21-year-old Indian student studying at Warwick Business School in England. He started his own website at the age of 10 and started a software startup at the age of 13 and has been involved with more than a dozen of startups since then. Kshitij also gave a TEDx talk at the age of 17.
During high school, Kshitij was selected to work with one of the largest technology startup accelerators in India. All of this experience led to him starting his own “micro-venture” investment fund called Blix Capital. Even though he will officially launch this fund next month, he agreed to share some of his ideas related to his fund and his vision with us in our exclusive interview.
Q: How did you get started?
A: So I started at the age of 10. I used to do a lot of magic tricks when I was a kid and went on to make a website where I used to post videos of them. Within a year the website got 100,000 hits – not a big number, but 11 years ago for a 10-year-old, this was big. Creating the website sparked the interest of coding in me. At the age of 13, I started a software startup. I was also a contributor to the One Laptop Per Child program. Later on, I was selected as an Entrepreneur in Residence at one of India’s largest startup accelerators.
Q: What gave you the idea to start your own investment fund?
A: My experience in working with startups and entrepreneurs at such a young age and studying at one of the most innovative business schools in the world made me realize that there are so many smart people around me and all of them have brilliant ideas. Some of these people take the risk and start working on their idea. However, most of them don’t – due to one main reason. They don’t want to take risks, or they don’t have the start-up cash (or don’t want to put in their money).
Say for example I have an amazing idea of making some app that can help you travel through time – I have the idea. However I need to hire a coder, rent a server, invest in other resources which might help in the development and so on; all of which requires some initial capital – which most people are scared of risk. This is what I want to change, I want to help such people startup without taking any risk.
Q: How will your fund help entrepreneurs?
A: Generally the idea of venture capital funds or angel investors is to invest millions – or at least thousands of dollars in a start-up. The idea of my fund is to give people access to “start-up cash” of say, $1,000-$2,000 in exchange for sweat equity. These entrepreneurs can be university students working on projects, some high school kid working on an app or anyone who has an idea – but doesn’t have access to that initial capital they need to kickstart. This initial investment can help people by letting them work towards their first prototype, renting servers, hiring developers, or anything which can help in the realization of their idea. Of course, money isn’t everything you need to start, and hence, they will also get access to our network of mentors, advisors and some leading investors from around the world who can help them take their ideas off to the big start!
Q: Who are your target entrepreneurs? Will you only focus on startups by university students?
A: We do not have any set target group, however, we focus more on “project-based” ideas. Any one with an idea can apply. As of now, we are focusing on investing in US, UK, and India.
Q: So how does your funding work?
A: The funding process is straightforward. I understand that people at this stage are not completely aware of the technicalities involved in venture capital. The first stage is to apply to us, then we will invite you to pitch your idea to us. If successful, we will help you form your company and start the funding process.
Q: What one advice would you give to aspiring young people who want to start their own business?
A: That one advice would be to START NOW! The truth is that no matter how young or old you are, if you believe in yourself you can start even at the age of 50. What matters is that you take the risk and start!
Q. Where do you see yourself in the next 3 years?
A: When all my friends at university were applying for internships, I was working on my business plan. When they started their internships, I incorporated my company and instead of spending my summers working for someone else, I worked for myself. This is something I’m very proud of. My aim is to invest in 20 such individuals by 2020 and help them work for themselves.
Q. Since you still study at university, what advice would you give to university students?
A: Probably the best advice I can give to my fellow students is to take risks. Take risks because this is the time you can afford to fail. Don’t waste your life working for someone else! Everyone has an amazing talent – do what you are good at and what you love doing.
Even though Kshitij will officially be launching his fund “Blix Capital” and start accepting applications next month, he agreed to share his website and email for anyone who needs help with starting up!