Jalandhar boy Varun Shoor never imagined that his passion towards coding would one day be the reason for his recognition worldwide. The boy who once used to ask for a domain name from random people online is now the CEO of a customer service software company — Kayako. Despite lacking in formal education in software coding and with zero funding for his product, Varun Shoor rose to global fame.
It all started back in 1996 when junior Varun was given an extra computer from his father’s factory. Since then geeky Varun began to get his hands on that computer, he knew this would be his life. Curious about computers and software, he engaged himself in learning more about computers and technology. Soon his second home was cyber cafes as he would make regular visits to occupy in different e-forums on web hosting.
For Varun, who had never shown interest in academics, this newfound pastime soon became a hobby. As his interest in technology grew, his marks at school began to decrease, and ultimately he failed in the 9th standard.
“Academics never attracted me but I read a lot of books on software and code writing, and, of course, cookery, which is my hobby. I was never trained in formal coding and learnt it from books,” stated Varun Shoor.
In one of those frequent visited web hosting forums, Varun read about an organization that sold a customer support software for $2,000. On understanding more about that specific product, he realized that it was something he could build in his sleep.
“Writing code was my hobby, and I had a family business as a backup. Sabeer Bhatia had just sold Hotmail, and I dreamed of creating something like that.” –Varun Shoor
With his free time, Shoor sat down in his bedroom and began to develop a similar software. And he was successful. But the problem lay elsewhere. He had unquestionably no funds to market his product, and hosting a website would cost about a $100 and an extra $50 for the activation of an online payment gateway. When he approached his father for backing his product, explaining the situation to him, his request was met with a firm ‘no.’
He had to resort to other avenues. He went to chat rooms (earlier days before Facebook and Orkut, there were chat rooms like Yahoo chat rooms, RediffBol, etc.) and simply went on asking strangers to give him a free domain name. After several failed efforts, a Japanese chat friend offered Varun Shoor a domain name- Kayako.com- that was to expire in 3 months. He was then able to get a friend on board who offered to host Kayako.com for free. In November 2001, Varun made his first trade to a Canadian customer for $50. By the end of that month, another customer approached Shoor to buy a copy of his product for $300!
With this opening success, Varun designed a good-looking website and hooked it with a payment processing code. Three months before starting his website, he created 20 different identities on Web Hosting Talk, all having different IP addresses. Thus began his mission of providing customer service to people through Kayako. Soon enough, through the word-of-mouth in the various chat rooms, business started pouring in. His parents, who were initially doubtful of their son’s plans, now began to believe in him. By 2005, as international dollars kept filling up his bank accounts, 98% of which was profit, he had carved out the path to the lush life.
Varun Shoor went on to capture some of the biggest names in the international market. As a 17-year old he created actually a startup that now has clients like MTV, NASA, Pearson, SEGA, ICANN, and the University of Illinois, etc. Today, Kayako has spread its branches in 6 countries, with a strength of over 150 employees. For someone who dropped out of school and experienced no training in software development, building something that is internationally acclaimed is a considerable achievement. He came, he saw, and he conquered!
Disclaimer: This real success story was written after the research over the internet and newspaper about Varun Shoor, CEO of Kayako.