Still in his thirties and with 14 companies, starting out early proves that you can create success at a young age.
--BY AASHIYANA ADHIKARI
“Live the life of your dreams,” says Ajay Kumar Shrestha, chairman and managing director of iCapital Pvt Ltd, an investment and holding company which invests in stocks, futures trading and scalable ventures. According to him, when people start living the life of their dreams, there will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, perseverance and self-belief there is no limit to what dreamers can achieve.
Born in 1984 in Kathmandu, Shrestha completed his higher secondary from Xavier Academy in management. He finished his Bachelor in Business Administration and Masters in Business Administration from Kathmandu College of Management in 2007 and 2010 respectively.
Being raised and bought up in a business family, he had always thought about getting into business but he did not know how and when he would. “At the back of my mind, there was always a longing to become a businessperson. But I did not know the particular thing I was interested in,” shares Shrestha.
While studying as an undergraduate, his interest in the stock market grew immensely. He recalls going to the library and voraciously reading books on stocks and finance, though he adds that, for him, it was not all about bookish knowledge. “If I had followed the things taught in the course books, I wouldn’t have been the person as a professional I am today.” He feels that being a university topper has not benefitted his business in any way. “It’s just a tag that I carry which has no relevancy in what I do,” expresses Shrestha.
According to him, it is exposure to the real world which matters more than just good grades because ultimately it work experience counts. He feels that there is a big gap in the teaching and learning processes in Nepal. “Entrepreneurs don’t teach and professors don’t have businesses. Until and unless this gap is met, the relevancy of course book teachings and real world applications are very difficult to meet,” opines Shrestha.
An avid music lover, Shrestha had formed his own band during his teenage years. Besides, he is also a meditation practitioner. Getting into meditation was a major turning point in his life. “I was 21 when I gave up going to parties and drinking alcohol and started meditating. Everyone of my age at that point loved partying, whereas I got into the investment world,” says Shrestha. “After starting meditating, life started taking a different turn and I got more focused on my work and future plans,” he adds.
Shrestha, who loves experimenting with new things and products not only established iCapital but also started Kaffeine Coffee School, Source Code, a financial technology company, among other ventures. Since he doesn’t drink alcohol his passion for coffee drove him into commencing Kaffeine Coffee School.
Although he had the chance to work in his family business, he wanted to carve a niche on his own. This desire to earn his own identity led him to work independently from a young age. “I always wanted to do something on my own and become independent,” says Shrestha. At the start as a stock investor, he borrowed some money from his father. “I returned the money immediately after getting returns from the investments. I studied for my MBA with my own earnings,” he recalls.
Shrestha believes that the choices he has made have always been the right ones for that stage in his life. “I don’t believe in living life with regrets, I have done everything from partying, travelling to fighting,” he mentions, adding, “I did everything and made mistakes along the way. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have learned from such experiences.”
Shrestha is a member of the Entepreneurs Organisation (EO), a global peer-to-peer network of more than 12,000 influential business owners with 160 chapters in 50 countries. He has been with the organisation for only a few months and has been learning a lot from the senior EO members and regards it as a great platform to enhance his professional network.
Founded in 1987, EO is the catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, leading to greater success in business and beyond. EO Nepal which was established in 2003 is among the 160 chapters of the global organisation. Currently, it has 61 members.
Shrestha now operates a total of 14 companies. He doesn’t have any plans to create new entities. His focus is on sustaining the existing businesses. Five to ten years down the line, he sees himself becoming well established in the areas of stock market and venture investment with his current ventures recording high growth.