Kanthi Dutt has been an entrepreneur since the age of 12. Having founded Spartans Media, a brand management firm, in Class VII, he stopped schooling full-time after Class X because he believed “no one could grade his knowledge.” Today, at 22, Dutt is an entrepreneur with a cause.
With a constant desire to do something “impactful”, Kanthi Dutt co-founded SustainKart, India’s largest e-commerce marketplace for sustainable products, along with designer and fitness enthusiast Shilpa Reddy. The company targets becoming a unicorn by mid-2023.
Kanthi Dutt believes “determination, uninterrupted focus, and persistence” are key to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Maybe, that’s what propelled him to reach the milestone where he is today, with a net worth of $10 million. But his entrepreneurial journey wasn’t a smooth sail. He had to overcome ageism and cope with judgments for his unusual career decisions.
SustainKart recently announced the launch of its first retail franchise model and raised investment from actress, Samantha Ruth Prabhu as a part of the SustainKart Seed Round.
“Growing up, I wanted to contribute towards environmental safety, and with the help of SustainKart, we are working towards goals that can influence climate change,” he said.
From global warming to sustainable ventures, Hyderabad’s 22-year-old entrepreneur Kanthi Dutt talks to us about completing 10 years in business.
You stopped going to school after Class X. Did your parents support you or asked you to complete your education?
I stopped schooling full-time after Class X. I pursued my Class XI, and Class XII with CBSE attempted the exams and scored 94%. After completing my Class XII, when I told my parents that I wanted to quit education/schooling, the first thing my parents told me was to complete my under graduation before getting into a full-time business. After many discussions and convincing, my parents agreed that I pursue graduation in a part-time/distance mode. Irrespective of enrolling for an undergraduate degree, I always believed no one could grade my knowledge. This realization was a deal-breaker for me and an eye-opener for my parents, and they consented to me pursuing my dream to become an entrepreneur for a cause.
You founded Spartans Media in Class VII. So, age is not a bar when it comes to becoming an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship is all about learning the practical way and implementing it in your day-to-day operations. It’s a continuous process to evaluate risks, look for avenues for growth, make strategic plans, etc. I believe that it’s never too early. It is sometimes too late due to family commitments and financial responsibilities – you might not be able to take risks. The beauty in an entrepreneur is to be crazy, even investors like crazy entrepreneurs with creative ideas and thoughts. You can’t be crazy if you have limitations and responsibilities. It takes time, and patience to learn the game and take calculated risks.
You have built SustainKart along with fitness enthusiast Shilpa Reddy. Is a sustainable lifestyle the only solution to tackle global warming today?
A sustainable lifestyle includes two things at large. The first one is household consumption, and the second one is automobile consumption. Electronic vehicles will be the only solution to address automobile consumption that majorly contributes to global warming. Producing and purchasing sustainable products will be the only way to address sustainable consumerism as a future-driven lifestyle that will influence climate change at large. A circular economy will add a lot of value here. This means that there should be nothing called waste when we consume something. The waste that is used in landfills should be addressed by reducing the consumption of non-biodegradable materials.
Actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu has also invested in your company. That must have given the company a boost.
We, as a company, have always prioritized genuine and relatable influencers to partner with us, aided by investing in the company or by lending their goodwill as a muse. We believe that celebrities can influence their following base on a large scale. We need influential people to voice out and stand for global causes like climate change and environmental consciousness. We are happy and proud to have Samantha in our capTable.
What are the three qualities an entrepreneur needs to succeed?
Persistence, determination, and uninterrupted focus. Focus helps you prioritize and maximize your productivity, making it next to impossible not to accomplish any task. Learning about habits and the environment that maximizes your focus is essential to attain this skill. Also, one needs efficient cash management. Profitability is the key to long-term benefit. Earning more than you spend on profitable companies can fall victim to the fact that you can’t afford to learn too late.
You have completed 10 years as an entrepreneur. Any more businesses you want to expand?
As partners, Shilpa Reddy and I have planned to be a part of sustainable ventures, and green and clean DTC brands, through SustainKart. Even if I partner with any other brand in my capacity, I will look for a positive environmental impact angle in the business.