When the press gathered to shoot pictures and videos of the likes of Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Niklas Zennstrom (Skype), Chad Hurley (YouTube) and Michael Birch (Bebo) last Thursday when I arrived at my hotel in Dublin, where the F.ounders event was being held, I was surprised to see a fifth man get prompted to be included by the event organizers. Particularly because I didn’t recognize who this guy was, and not even his name rang a bell.
Over the course of the next few days, I’ve gotten to know him, and he has a fantastically inspiring story to tell alright: meet Divyank Turakhia, one of India’s youngest and most successful pirates – sorry, technology entrepreneurs.
Turakhia started his first business when he was 14 years old, and co-founded what is now the Directi Group when he was 18. He famously made his first million when he was 18, and now ten years later it sounds like things are just getting started for him.
Directi is a holding company with a current market value of over $300 million (not bad for a venture that was bootstrapped on a $600 budget – loaned to Divyank and his brother from their parents – back in 1998). Its portfolio of products and businesses are all over the place, ranging from collaboration, social networking, instant messaging and content publishing software offerings to major domain parking company Skenzo.
As for Divyank Turakhia, he’s set a large chunk of resources aside for his next bet: Media.net, which will formally make its debut at ad:tech New York later this week. It’s a contextual advertising play, and Turakhia aims for it to rival none other than Google AdSense.
After what I’ve learned about him the past few days, I wouldn’t bet against him at the very least taking a really good shot at it.
On a sidenote: he knows how to rival Lady Gaga, for one. From The Telegraph:
“Turakhia arrived in Dublin with an improbably young wannabe actress/singer/model girlfriend he met at Disneyland in tow, having – so the rumour goes – booked out the Presidential Suite of the Westbury Hotel to upstage Lady Gaga, who is in Dublin this weekend. That story, whispered, variously, through snarls of envy and smirks of delight, speaks volumes about this controlled explosion of machismo.”
Here’s my (admittedly far too brief) interview with Divyank: