He learnt coding when most of us were struggling with homework and exams. At 15, he is the boss of two cloud-based tech startups. In a chat with YourStory, Kunal Chandiramani reveals how he does it all.Sutrishna Ghosh
Hello there! We have a question for you. Can you recall how you spent your days when you were 15?
On the internet? Preparing for your boards, struggling with a massive syllabus? Seemed like such huge tasks at the time, right? For Bhopal boy Kunal Chandiramani, life is full of these usual challenges and then some.
At 15, Kunal is already running two cloud-based tech startups. He is also a TEDx speaker and is working on several projects simultaneously.
Sometimes things don’t work out “due to the roadblocks”, but mostly Kunal manages it all, pulling off a fine Superman act.
“My ideal day starts at 3:45 am,” he says, “By seven, I get ready for school and put on the school uniform, with an undershirt. Do a few meetings in the car if it’s urgent. And once free, I get in the car, remove my school shirt and put on a blazer.”
“That feeling never gets old - I feel like Superman.”
While most children of his age would be bogged down by homeworks and tuitions, Kunal, who recently appeared for his class 10 examinations, is different. He finds happiness in learning things online and preparing himself for the entrepreneurial journey by picking up lessons from W3 school, an educational website for learning web technologies.
After all, he is the brain behind the two startups - Kstar and CompAcademy.
Launched in November 2016, KStar helps handicraft sellers set up their shops online and sell anything to a wider market without having to know or understand coding to create their own sites. Inspired by WordPress, the platform aids these sellers in building their websites with all possible customisations in just 15 minutes.
“I came up with the idea while walking through the market and seeing a large number of stores without a mention on the internet. They had excess stock, which could be easily sold online, specifically with options like faster delivery and one-day delivery, which the sellers can themselves offer,” explains Kunal.
His other venture, CompAcademy, is closer to his current experience as a student. Started with the aim of gamifying education – an idea that Kunal says was inspired by seeing children play games in school – the platform offers nano courses. Once the revamped version takes off, CompAcademy could change the way people learn new skills online.
“With the nano course initiative,” says Kunal, “one can learn a new skill such as AI or something like ‘How to be a DJ’. We try to keep these courses easy and completable within 90 minutes.”
Kunal was deeply invested in chemistry when he was just in Class III, experimenting in the school chemistry lab to “impress the teacher”. In Class V, he started dabbling in different ideas, armed with his very own laptop. By the time he was in Class VII, our boy wonder had already created a robotic arm out of cardboard.
“By Class VIII, I was working nights on my companies,” he says, “and by Class IX, I had entered my first conference… as a TEDx speaker.”
These multiple endeavours, by default, Kunal has to be a multi-tasker so that he can juggle school, his self-learning, and manage two ambitious ventures. A great deal of the credit, of course, goes to the team buoying Kunal’s dream, his parents and mentors, and to his steely resolve that “every disadvantage is an advantage in disguise”.
As he quips, “My work is recreation… I love problem-solving and every achievement boosts me with renewed energy.”
The budding entrepreneur counts Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla and SpaceX CEO and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, and Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs among his idols “because they never gave up”.
His interest towards everything tech is evidence of the influence of these serial tech entrepreneurs. Kunal learnt coding when most of us were struggling with our school text-books. He is also involved with Google’s developer community for AI and his claim to fame includes being an IIT-Bombay champion for ethical hacking at Tech Radiance 2017. Kunal also has a spot in Madhya Pradesh’s 35under35 list.
Not shy of addressing a crowd, Kunal tells us that he loves to speak to an audience. He says, “I try to accept at least one invitation every month based on availability.” And he has a clear vision for his future.
“I will be dedicating a lot of my time to CompAcademy and our new partnerships,” he says. “In a more distant way, I plan to go ahead and complete my education,” Kunal says, signing off.