ResellerClub is currently one of the largest private-label web solution providers in the world and an industry leader in providing end-to-end automation to Domain Resellers, Web Hosts, Web Designers, and other Web Service companies.
On January 29, 1982, Divyank Turakhia was born in India. His father is a chartered accountant who runs his own business specializing in tax consulting, auditing and company incorporations and his mother is a law school graduate. Turakhia is also close to his brother Bhavin who joined him in co-founding Directi. Bhavin is two years older than him but from their childhood on they have had very similar interests, goals, thought process, and even the same friends and peer group.
Divyank had a very keen interest in working with technology and computers since he was 8 years old. But he couldn’t afford his own computer, so he used the ones that belonged to richer friends. Those were the days when the popular home computer was the ZX Spectrum where software needed to be loaded via audio cassette tapes. When he was 9, he started programming in Basic and had a special interest in Computer Game Programming. he created my first three games as part of a school project when he was 12 – a Car Racing Game, an Alien Shooting Game and a Trivia Game – all of which became pretty popular in his school. He loved computers to such an extent that while other kids spent their time playing football, basketball, cricket and the likes, he spent all his lunch breaks and after school time in the computer lab. Between the ages of 12-14, he used to hold after-school sessions to teach advanced concepts in GWBasic to a class of students and teachers that were interested in learning about the same. The school didn’t have anyone who knew much about it since that wasn’t part of the standard curriculum.
It normally takes years of computer science training in college to acquire the kind of technical expertise that Turakhia had acquired before reaching his teens. All the skills that he has are mostly self-learnt. He is an avid reader. He had the habit of reading every book or article that he could lay his hands on – technology, business, management, time-management, biographies etc. He read so much is because his father was very passionate about books and through his life he spent a huge portion of his earnings on building a massive library at home. His father had multiple books on every topic at his home. His father always encouraged his children to do things independently and was supportive of everything that they wanted to do.
At 13, Divyank co-created the world’s largest game and computer program written in GWBasic along with his brother. It took them nearly the whole year to finish the program. When they were near completion they ran into a problem that they hadn’t anticipated – GWBasic was not designed to allow a program of this size to run – they could have switched to QBasic but wanted the program to run in GWBasic and hence didn’t make that switch. In order to complete the program, they had to start “optimizing” the existing code by re-coding portions of the program, using smaller variable names, and even switching command statements such as “PRINT” to “?” so that they would save 4 bytes. The end-result was an ultimate business simulation game. The game starts with an animation sequence which talks about how your business partner deceitfully takes over your entire company and you are now left with no money. The object of the game was to start from scratch, create a successful business, and get 100% of the market share. To grow the company, the player must manage resources in terms of money and employees, and create and manage ongoing budgets for various departments such as HR, Research & Development, Marketing, Sales, Finance, Legal etc. The game even allowed the player to perform corporate treasury operations by investing money on the stock market. The program used various probability algorithms keeping in mind best practices from various business management books. Playing the game was educational, creating it was an experience. Despite his tender age, the business focus of Turakhia’s computer game came as no surprise to Turakhia’s friends and family. He was very entrepreneurial while growing up. At the age of 13, he was selling computer projects to rich school kids who couldn’t make their own project. Each project that he made got an A grade, so it was well worth the money for them, and he spent less than two hours in making each project – so it was easy money for him.
These were still the pre-internet days. Computer Networks were becoming the buzz word. They started a fledgling bulletin board system (BBS) using the RemoteAccess BBS software and a 2400 baud modem. Only their close friends could connect to it. These were the days when ANSI Galleries and the BBS game Legend of The Red Dragon (LORD) were very popular. He shortly upgraded to the Wildcat BBS Program, and started supporting the NCSA Mosaic browser at 14.4k connection speeds. One had to manually install Trumpet Winsock and Mosaic on their Windows 3.1 PC to view the graphics. Because of their experience of running the BBS, they already knew more about the internet and networking than most other people when internet services were first launched in India in 1995.
When he was 14, he started freelance internet consulting for large corporates. He did that for two years. Freelancing worked out perfectly well – it gave him more “disposable money” than the richest kids on the block. He was having a lot of fun doing what he was doing. His primary focus areas were helping companies setup their websites, setting up internet gateways, setting-up intranets, setting-up corporate email accounts, managing internal and intra-office network security policies, setting up and configuring any technology related product or software that the company couldn’t do by itself etc. He even assembled computers for a few companies. These were the really old days when nothing was plug-and-play; you had to configure the ISA cards that go into the machines using jumpers. Around the time he was involved with freelance consulting, Bhavin, his elder brother was trying his hands with different businesses – some around selling computers, and others around end-user internet services.
When he was 16 and still in high school, Bhavin and he co-founded Directi by borrowing $600 from their parents. When they started Directi, their strategy was to build a set of mass market products that are indigenously developed, that are global in nature, that do not require customization per customer, that thrive on innovation, creativity and automation. The idea was to focus on building growth-intensive intellectual property and stay away from capital-intensive infrastructure projects or any form of service that would require customization on a per customer basis. This meant that if the products that they built were successful, their margins would be very high as development costs would remain near similar whether they had a hundred customers, ten thousand customers, or a million customers. With this they started their first product line. They started a business unit that sells hosting packages directly to end customers. The idea was that everyone is eventually going to require a domain name and a web hosting package. It was the most obvious volume based product that everyone would need. The initial investment of $600 was spent towards the payment of our first server’s monthly lease. In the first month itself they signed up 40 customers. That allowed them to return the money that they borrowed from their parents and pay the server’s lease bill for the next 3 months. Within the first few months, they were hosting the who-is-who of the Indian market – including the likes of National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, Nationalist Congress Party etc. At the age of 17, he was already being quoted and featured in publications such as Indian Express, Rediff etc. and at 18, his net worth was over $1 Million.
Soon after, Turakhia’s big opportunity in domains opened up when the Network Solutions (NSI) monopoly in the registration business came to an end. Until early 1999, Network Solutions was the only registrar (and also the registry), and the retail price of domains was as high as $70 for two years. Every hosting company including Directi was a reseller of NSI. With the formation of ICANN in 1998, the functions of the registry and registrar were separated, and 5 registrars were accredited as part of an initial testbed in 1999 – Register.com, Melbourne IT, CORE, AOL and France Telecom. As a result, the price of domains started coming down because of the competition. After the initial testbed, ICANN started accrediting other applicants that met the criteria that it had set. In October 1999, Tucows revolutionized the wholesale domain name registration market with its launch of OpenSRS – domains were now available for just $13 a year. They signed up as a Tucows reseller and substantially increased the number of domains that they were registering.
Domain names were the entry point to sell all web services – web hosting, dedicated servers, digital certificates, payment gateway solutions etc. They made a substantial amount of money by selling domains at a low cost, which allowed them to fund their own ICANN accredited registrar. Being ICANN accredited is the logical growth step for any large web services company that sells domains or hosting packages. In 2000, they started a new business unit within the Directi Group – Transecute – India’s first payment gateway service. The primary reason for starting it was that they wanted to start collecting money online via credit cards for our own domain registration and hosting business, and there was no solution available in India for the same.
Since they needed to build it , they built it out as a product that they could sell to any other customer. They continued to be the largest payment gateway service in the country for a very long time. They are one that used advanced heuristic fraud detection and risk management technology. In early 2001, about 8 months from the time we had applied to ICANN, we got our own ICANN accredited registrar, now known as PublicDomainRegistry.com. They had realized that technology was their primary core competence. They could build web applications better, faster and cheaper than everyone else. Also, they realized that in a global market, customers wanted local support in their local language and also wanted local payment options. The only way to capture a large market share was through partnerships. They decided to adopt a reseller model (currently under the brand name of ResellerClub) and from here on they focused on selling all their web services primarily through a channel of partners around the world. The business grew substantially over the years. By the time he was 21, the business had over 100,000 customers. ResellerClub is currently one of the largest private-label web solution providers in the world and an industry leader in providing end-to-end automation to Domain Resellers, Web Hosts, Web Designers, and other Web Service companies.
Directi is a technology conglomerate and the parent company of ResellerClub, LogicBoxes, Skenzo, CodeChef, BigRock and WebHosting.info. Divyank Turakhia is the founder Media.net which has competition against Google adsense. ISB Hyderabad students had also make a documentry of Directi. Today Directi powers 6.5 Million Domains is valued at $350 Million.