If you ever wondered how amazingly young and energetic a 62-year old man can look like, go see Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur Idris Kothari. Thick eyeglasses might be a clue but his slender built, a relaxed demeanor, and the giggles he frequently lets out belie Idris Kothari’s decades of technology experience and an outstanding entrepreneurial career. In the last 33 years Kothari has started up multiple businesses and have sold them to others, only to move on to the next exciting venture.
From humble beginnings, both in terms of economic background—Kothari grew up blocks away from Karachi’s bordellos—and academic aptitude—Kothari was a mediocre student most of his early life—to the riches of the Silicon Valley, Idris Kothari has traveled a long distance and has been through thick and thin.
Mentorship breakfast with Idris Kothari, arranged by OPEN (Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs and Professionals of North America) on Friday, December 9, was as much about Kothari coaching budding entrepreneurs as it was about him reminiscing his journey. Recounting his life story Idris Kothari explained how he got into running his own business. He spoke very highly of his partner Saeed Kazmi. Kazmi was the only person who showed up at a morning meeting when at dinner, the previous day, Kothari, Kazmi, and several other friends decided they were fed up with their jobs and the bosses that came with them, and that it was time for them to start their own business. Since that morning meeting, attended only by Kazmi and Kothari, Kazmi has been with Kothari in every entrepreneurial step Kothari has taken.
In the breakfast meeting Kothari said he derives great satisfaction from the fact that he writes his own paycheck. Has he lost anything in the process of gaining so much? No, not at all, he replies vehemently. For him, it has been a journey of gain and gain. Unlike others whose businesses have been about personal hardships and strained family relations, Kothari runs his business believing being your own boss means you should find more time to do things you really want to do. One can see his face beaming with pride when he tells you he never missed his children’s parent-teacher conferences.
If a chance were given to him to go back and live life all over again, would he do anything differently? “No,” he assures you. Where does Idris Kothari see himself fifteen or twenty years down the line? Kothari says he would like to have grandchildren—other than that life is bliss and he is happy to live it, one day at a time.
Coming back from the OPEN mentorship breakfast I thought about the ingredients that make up Idris Kothari. Being raised in the tightly knit Bohra community—where education is highly valued; being the son of an Aligarh graduate—this is where Idris Kothari gets his refined taste in Urdu from; living a childhood of austerity, thus not only understanding the value of hard work, but also learning to cherish every blessing that would come his way; later being in the company of sharpest minds and be intellectually provoked; moving to a setup of great political tranquility, where entrepreneurship, focus, and hard work are greatly rewarded; and then finding himself at the forefront of the main technological current of the time…in a nutshell, this is what Idris Kothari is about and it would be hard to find someone living a more fulfilling life out of this background.
Listen to Idris Kothari’s very interesting conversation here: