How Div Turakhia Became a Billionaire by 34

Divyank Turakhia started his first business at 14 years old with $500 and his brother as co-partner. Since those early entrepreneurial days, Div has founded six other companies, sold his company for $900 million dollars to a Chinese consortium, and discovered a passion for adventure sports like airplane wing walking. Yes, seriously!

The most interesting part about Div? He’s never raised outside money for any of his ventures. Instead, he’s funneled profits from past efforts to jumpstart his current biz. In his talk at the 2017 Propelify Innovation Festival, he shared three techniques that helped him become one of India’s youngest billionaires and a seriously successful serial entrepreneur.

Find a mentor – at your public library.

Div estimates he’s spent about 800 hours a year reading, for the past 20 years. Why so much time buried in a book? His theory is that books can convey helpful knowledge to an entrepreneur, in the exact same way a mentor can.

“Learn as many concepts as possible, from as many people as possible,” Div said. “Pick a topic, pick up the top 5 books on the topic off – Amazon, and at the end of the  process you’ll have learned about that topic.”

The benefits of using books as mentors are innumerable. Not only do you have access to everyone and anyone’s knowledge you admire, a book will also never turn down your request to meet for coffee.

Want to become a smartypants like Div? His reading schedule shakes out to about 45 minutes of reading per day. To do the same, schedule in a half hour of reading before bed and 15 minutes in the morning every day. And if you want to learn even faster, here’s a quickie guide to speed-reading.

The golden rules of hiring:

After founding and growing seven companies, Div has learned some key hiring practices for acquiring the best and brightest. Here are three rules he always follows for new hires:

  1. Hire people who complement your skill sets. First, figure out what roles need to be filled at your company right now and in the future as you grow. Then, find and hire the best person to fill that role. “If you’re great at tech, you need a marketing partner, and a finance person, and a sales partner, and so on,” Div says. “Plug in the holes in your company with people who have different strengths.”
  2. Ask – who can get it done? Sometimes, the smartest person in the room isn’t the most efficient. “The person might be the smartest, but maybe they are most interested in accomplishing things for themselves – and that’s not going to help you.” Div says. Team players who want to grow with you and your business are the hires you want to look for.
  3. Longevity trumps all. Div will always hire or identify someone he can envision with the company for multiple years, over someone who might be more talented. “Someone who’s with you long-term will bring more value over time with his or her accumulated knowledge.” And, once you have found this great talent, be sure to nurture their unique personality over time.

Learn the balance between actual risk vs. perceived risk

Airplane wing walking is an adventure sport dating back to the early 1900s, when the first daredevils would walk on airplane wings to wow crowds. Today, the sport is considerably safer and one of Div’s favorite past times. Although most people are shocked at the perceived danger of walking on an airplane wing during flight, Div’s philosophy towards the sport – and business – differs.

“Airplane walking is extremely safe…When you look at something, the perceived risk might be really high but when you really learn about it, you remove some risk. And that’s how it works in business too.  And if you can find areas that have a significant spread between perceived and real – now you’ve found an opportunity to make a lot of money.”

What’s your perceived vs. real risk? Find the sliver in the middle, and you’ll strike gold.

Watch the highlights from Div’s talk at the 2017 Propelify Innovation Festival:

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