[Matrix Moments] Bhavin Turakhia on his learnings from building and exiting four companies

In this episode of Matrix Moments podcast, Tarun Davda, Managing Director, Matrix Partners India, discusses with Bhavin Turakhia on his journey of …

Bhavin Turakhia is the Founder and CEO of Flock, Co-founder & CEO at Zeta, and Founder of Radix Registry. He started up at the age of 17 when he co-founded his first tech venture Directi with his brother Divyank Turakhia. Directi owned brands like BigRock, LogicBoxes, ResellerClub, and webhosting.info.

In 2014, he exited and sold all four companies to Endurance group, a NASDAQ listed web hosting, firm for $160 million. His neo-banking venture Zeta is valued at $300 million.

Over the last 21 years, Bhavin has built five successful businesses, all driven by his passion for problem solving and maximising efficiency through tech driven innovations.

In this episode, Tarun Davda, MD at Matrix India, spoke to Bhavin about his early love for coding and his journey as a serial entrepreneur. Incidentally, Tarun also happened to work with Bhavin as GM and Business Head at BigRock, close to a decade ago.

To take funding or not?

Talking to Tarun, Bhavin says, “In terms of at least the first company that I co-founded, I did not actually raise any funds. In fact, with Flock, Zeta and with Radix, I have funded the initial stages myself. I don’t think there’s one secret formula for success or one definitive path. It only goes to sort of prove that there are actually no constraints. Sometimes people think of funding as a constraint, and sometimes they think of idea as a constraint. I have always believed that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”

He adds that he had the opportunity to start companies in different industries and sectors, which he knew nothing about before he started. Bhavin says he also had no formal education – whether payments or enterprise communication or web hosting.

“Each time we picked a particular space, we approached it from first principles, learnt everything that we could or needed to about that space. And then we built an amazing business around it. Just the courage, the mental resilience, and the attitude of being able to do so is sort of derived from that single powerful statement that I always believed – that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.”

The early love for coding

Bhavin and his brother Divyank had humble beginnings and were living with their parents in Mumbai.

Bhavin says, while his father would compromise on several luxuries for himself, he would spend a lot of money on buying books for the brothers.

“We had tons of books about pretty much every subject. And throughout my schooling, I remember we used to have a standard curriculum where we would have various subjects – Maths, Science, Physics, etc. But over and above that, my dad would go out and buy five other books by different authors on each of these subjects,” says Bhavin.

It is a habit that holds good even today as Bhavin reads close to three books in a month.

Bhavin got his first computer in 1980 when he was 10, and his father had got him close to 40 books on programming. Bhavin says he would spend all his free time – short breaks and lunch breaks – on the books.

“We could not afford a computer back at home. And so, the computer teacher at school would leave the keys to the computer room with me. I would spend two to three hours every day after school learning to write different software programs,” says Bhavin.

One of the things they had to do in school was build computer projects twice year. It was part of the ICSE curriculum. And most people would spend a couple of days building some tiny applications.

Building early 

“I spent six months on my project building this really comprehensive game concerning sort of business and the stock markets. And it had background music, graphics, and lot of interesting stages. I really spent all my time on computer science in many ways. It also helped as it was a boys only school. No other distraction,” recollects Bhavin.

Moving ahead in his journey of starting up, Bhavin says, the internet came to India around 1994 with VSNL being the sole ISP for several years.

“I was really fascinated by the concept of being able to transmit data across the world at pretty much zero cost,” explains Bhavin.

It was during this time he started writing code, building software, and doing some consulting for people by building basic websites. And then he started out by building what was disaster in terms of success.

“I built this entire equivalent of a job site in early ’96,” says Bhavin. He says he did not make much in terms of sales, but the product was way ahead of its time.

“I actually over built and over engineered a product, which really would not function very well until the internet penetration in the country was substantially higher than what it was,” says Bhavin.

He adds, “I have learnt a lot from realising that go to market is more important in many cases, and the whole notion of building an MVP and lessons around that. But then I started off with this notion of the most fundamental product that anybody would need on the internet is if they want to set up web presence, they will need hosting space.”

Listen to the podcasts: 

Podcast 1

Podcast 2