Black Cards and Vertu Phones: The Life of a 20-Year-Old Self-Made Millionaire
Everyone knows that financial freedom isn’t easy to attain. It can take years of hard work, discipline and luck to reach it. Then there are people like 20-year-old entrepreneur Evan Luthra.
Evan Luthra recently hit the internet spotlight when his Instagram account was featured on the Rich Kids of Instagram Tumblr. While most of the kids typically featured are heirs of wealthy tycoons, Luthra stresses that his fortune came through his own hard work.
After watching his father suffer failure before finding success, Luthra says he was able to see firsthand what it takes to succeed at a young age. From there, he set out on an entrepreneurial path that has taken him to financial independence at the age of 20. Apart from his multiple entrepreneurial ventures, Luthra is also an accredited investor on AngelList.
Recently, NextShark was able to catch up with Evan Luthra via email where we discussed his upbringing, his philosophy on success and what it’s like being a Rich Kid of Instagram.
Tell us a little bit about your family and how you grew up.
I was born and raised in India. My parents are both in the fashion industry, and I have a younger brother who is currently studying fashion in London to take over the family business.
My childhood was spent the way children spend their days — going to school, playing sports and surfing the web. I attended Lotus Valley International Middle School and went to an international baccalaureate diploma program for high school at Pathways World.
I was definitely determined and always one step ahead of everyone throughout my school life. I received the majority of the votes when I ran for president in my high school. Even though I never went to class as much as other students did, I still was ahead of everyone in our class. Life has and always will be about winning for me.
You said that your dad was a self-made millionaire by the time you were 15. What kind of business is your father in?
My father is directly responsible for instilling the entrepreneurship bug in me. I have seen him start up and fail numerous times, but he never gave up and never gave into pressures to be or do something else. In fact, one of his failures is responsible for kickstarting my success in the technology industry. I will touch upon that later.
My whole family is in the fashion business, and we collectively run multiple brands dealing in manufacturing, designing and retailing of high-fashion ladies garments such as LadyRCouture.com. They have been in this business for over 20 years and are still working hard on growing it. Apart from that, my father likes to invest in real estate and other growing industries.
Would you say you were spoiled as a kid?
I wouldn’t say I was spoiled, but my parents did keep me up to date on anything that was new and upcoming. I didn’t want for anything, but I had to earn everything that was given to me. What worked for me was that I had a “hustler mentality,” and when a hustler wants something, he or she usually gets it one way or the other.
Ever since I was 12, my parents gave me access to the best resources when it came to the internet. Once I had the World Wide Web in my hands, I found millions of ways to make money that let me spoil myself. If I wanted something, I would usually help someone else get rich online and take my cut. Anything is possible online. There are no boundaries. Most self-made individuals attribute their success to the growth of technology, and I am no different.
You claim that you’re self-made and became financially free by 20. Walk us through how you go to that point.
So let’s take a walk back through memory lane. When I was 12, my father started a call center business which was essentially the customer support back office for multiple companies. After three months into the business and over a million dollars invested, my father realized the CEO he had hired took the money and ran. The business failed shortly after that. Where others saw failure, I saw opportunity. Most would say this was the turning point in my life. Yes, I know. I was only 12. How can a 12-year-old have a “turning point”? Very simply, I was born and bred to be an entrepreneur. There were 200 new HPs lying around collecting dust. As the call center was connected to the same building as my parents’ fashion business, I used to go to my dad’s office every day to work with those computers. I was a 12-year-old kid with access to 200 computers and the ability to do whatever I wished with them! Imagine the possibilities!
I basically started opening up all those computers and playing around with the processors. I learned how computers work and, inevitably, what not to do with them. I ended up destroying about 50 computers trying to make mini and master computers. I quickly learned networking, hardware systems, software, etc. All the while, I was sharing my experiences with an online forum called Pulse. I had a fan base of well over 100,000 people.
Soon, Apple announced the App Store, and I wanted to make an app for my blog. So I spent months learning how to build apps. Eventually, I was able to release an app as the App Store launched. I was one of the top 100 developers to launch on the store at that time. I ultimately found my calling with mobile applications and left the “blogosphere” for others to conquer.
I kept working on multiple apps — Google, Blackberry and Apple just to name a few. Almost every major mobile company recognized me for my work and put me on stage with the CEOs of their respective companies. With that kind recognition and capital, there was no looking back. I had cemented myself within the technology world.
Now I work with multiple entrepreneurs and bring their app ideas to life with my firm EL Group International. I hold equity and am on the board of directors for over 20 different startups, and if I see a great idea, I do everything possible to execute on it.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your dad on business?
Never be afraid of failure. One cannot truly appreciate the successes without understanding how one grew from the failures. I started my technological legacy on the ashes of my dad’s biggest failure. Instead of worrying about failure, think about what you are missing out by not even trying! Think back on your past, and think of all the instances where your fear of rejection or failure crippled your will to thrive. Failure will always be an option. Those who understand this know how to spit in the face of rejection. You have to always take the good with the bad and turn things around. Just because one bad thing happens in life doesn’t mean there isn’t a good thing right around the corner waiting to change your life. My father’s business failing didn’t make me believe that things were never going to go right. His failure was eye-opening. I understood I didn’t want to fail at life; I wanted to succeed, and that’s what I have done and continue to do.
You were recently featured on Business Insider because of your business card. You’re certainly not shy about being flashy. How important do you think your appearance is in the business world?
I like to believe in the saying “your network is your net worth.” To build my network globally, I attend exclusive events around the world packed with the most powerful people. In places like these, the only way to get noticed is if you have something that others want. It’s not always about money, fame or power. More often than not, it’s about respect. Once you gain the respect of your peers, others will start to see you in a whole different light.
For example, the idea for my business card was born when I was invited to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — one of the greatest power perks in the world. I decided, right then and there, that I wanted to be able to leave an impression on everyone I met.
The list of attendees included presidents, chairmans of Ivy League universities, billionaires and celebrities. If Business Insider decided to dedicate an article on just my business card, I think it did the trick.
Getting on Rich Kids Of Instagram wasn’t really a goal or even a thought, but it’s brought me great friends too. I met Philip last year in Berlin, and next month we are chartering a yacht together for the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. This gets me access to the top professionals in the film industry, so RKOI definitely did help.
What do you think about your fame on Instagram?
The majority of my Instagram following initially grew from me giving entrepreneurial talks at Google, Blackberry, Nielsen, TEDx and other corporations and universities. I always used to share my Instagram over Twitter, as I am a visual guy and never use Twitter.
Recently though, as I have been growing, my photos are becoming more and more about an extravagant lifestyle most people can only imagine. My fortunate circumstance is not indicative of the person I am or the way I carry myself. My goal was not to show off. I want to use Instagram to document my life. In the process, I hope that I am able to inspire people to achieve great things and understand the fact that if I was able to do it, so can they. I recently shared a whole post on Instagram regarding this. My life is not the exception – if you dream it, you can live it.
How do you deal with all the hate you get from being a RKOI?
I have learned to deal with the negativity. Previously, it used to come from the tech world, where I got a lot more success than most developers even though I wasn’t the best. The only difference with RKOI is that before, I used to be hated for achieving success; now I am misunderstood and hated simply because of my wealth and lifestyle.
I really don’t care about hate and ignore most of it. In actuality, I thrive off of it. It serves a purpose to remind me that if I have haters, I must be doing something right. Hate stems from ignorance and, more often than not, jealousy. If that is the place from which a person wants to live his or her life, I cannot help that or prevent them from continuing to hate what I have and who I have become.
Many people can only dream of having a lifestyle like yours at such a young age. How does that feel?
I admit I am extremely lucky to lead the lifestyle I have. I have the ability to fly first class anywhere I want to at any moment without any prior thought. I enjoy the success I have, but let me be clear – I’ve worked hard to live the life I lead. I have a great time living this life, and I still find time to make money wherever I am.
I would like to emphasize that this works for me because my business is on the Internet. I am not saying I don’t have large offices and tons of employees — I do. But I don’t micro-manage. Instead, I leverage human capital. I have set processes in place that my employees follow. I don’t visit my office for months at a stretch because I am busy living life or traveling around the world. Having the lifestyle you want is not that hard if you are really committed to making it work.
What are some things do you still struggle with? Are there any negatives from being rich?
Everyone has problems, and I am no exception. My biggest struggle right now is with dating and friendships. With the amount of travel I do for work, I am in a new city every other week, so it’s hard for me to get to know anyone well enough to be really friends with them. I meet a lot of wonderful people, but it’s not really that easy to trust someone and hard to tell if they are my friends because of my money or me. This is especially true with women. I am surrounded by beautiful supermodels wherever I am, but I can’t really see a future with any of them! The last serious relationship I had was in high school!
Tell us some of your current ventures and why you’re passionate about them.
Sure! I love to talk about my work. I am very passionate about entrepreneurship and what I do.
Some of the recent products I have built:
Givvr.com allows millennials to raise billions of dollars for charities by giving 15 seconds a day of their time.
I started Givvr because I grew up in a family that believes greatly in giving back to its community and to society. Charity is a full-time job for my mom. Twenty percent of my income goes straight to social causes. With Givvr, I want to enable millennials who may not have that much of disposable income but still be able to donate to charity with something they have in abundance — time! In the time that most of you finish reading this article you could have potentially raised $10 for a charity of your choice!
LetsMingyl.com brings the world closer by connecting people based on their interests and a picture bio. I started Mingyl because I am a power user on Instagram. Mingyl is the first mobile-only, Instagram-based social network. We have some very cool features built into Mingyl that include the ability to message other Instagram users and gain lots of new followers!
Wiwigo.com is the Uber of outstation travel, allowing you to rent chauffeured cars from Toyotas to Rolls Royce. I built Wiwigo because I felt a need for it in India. India has over a billion people but very few have their own cars. I am passionate about travel, and I wanted to enable the people of India to be able to see the diverse culture India has to offer.
These are just some of the businesses I started with other great entrepreneurs. I still work hard on every single one of them every day.
I am working on a new real estate project right now to tackle the billion-dollar market. If any of you are interested in working with me on that, feel free to hit me up!
Lastly, what’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Always leverage human capital to multiply your time and output. When people ask me, “What’s your job?” I like to respond by saying “I don’t have a job. I hire people to get the job done.” Who said you need a degree or master’s to be wealthy? You can own an audit firm which is vastly successful and yet you don’t need to be qualified as an accountant. You can own a hotel without a qualification in hospitality. I want to ask you — “What is stopping you from hiring those qualified for the job to make money for you?”
I do not write a single line of code, but my employees collectively have written millions of lines of codes to execute on my projects for me.
The richest people in the world look and build networks; everyone else is just looking for a job. They expose themselves to similar people and environments to grow instead of going to universities and learning from a book.
Always make it a habit to surround yourself with people you can learn from, and always be on the lookout for networks that make you grow. That is why you see Bill Gates and Warren Buffett having lunch together and Jay-Z sits with Puff Daddy during events.
I am constantly traveling and attending events around the world. I surround myself with the most influential and powerful people. Everywhere I have been and everywhere I plan to go, I meet successful people and make ideas come to life.
When great minds meet, ideas are bound to develop. The world becomes a better place for all when these ideas executed. That is my sole goal in life.