Introducing the Rainmatter Foundation

7 January 2021
General

Zerodha is now the largest stock broker in India, and one of the key reasons for our success is that neither revenue nor “growth” have ever been our primary goals. The chase has always been creating quality and impact—building high quality, accessible technology and services to offer to retail investors, to offer free and open financial education, and with our Rainmatter initiative, to build a modern ecosystem within the Indian broking industry. We have never raised any external capital in what now has become a very conducive environment, so as to never be forced to compromise on our ideals in favour of chasing growth and returns. 

Around 2015, we realised that to grow the very shallow capital market participation in India, we need to do a lot more than just offer execution platforms as Zerodha. We figured the best shot of being able to do this was by creating an ecosystem of diverse, quality products offered by many partners vs. trying to build everything from scratch ourselves. This is when we launched Kite Connect APIs, creating a “broking as a platform” system, which then allowed startups to build niche platforms on top of us, without having to go through the pain of building their own stock broking infrastructure which we had already done. To kick start this and to seed the ecosystem, we started the Rainmatter fintech startup fund and incubator using our own capital. Rainmatter allowed startups to leapfrog all the infrastructural and regulatory complexities and quickly build out quality tech platforms for retail investors. We helped these startups with funding ($100K – $1M), but more importantly, by showcasing their products to our customers, helped them get over the biggest challenge for startups working on building saving and investing products, credibility.

In the business of money (banks, brokers, AMC, etc.), it is extremely tough to organically build credibility, and it takes a long time to gain the trust of customers. The return on investment that we seek from these investments is again “impact”, and pretty much the only thing we ever discuss when speaking to founders of these startups, which sets us apart from traditional VCs. Thanks to this, the startups we have funded today are some of the best in India solving problems in our industry. Smallcase, Streak, Sensibull, Learnapp, Goldenpi, Digio, Quicko, Finshots, and others (in stealth). 

Our business is successful beyond my wildest dreams, but there has always been this void, knowing what we are building is just helping the top 3 to 4% of Indian population. Also, the realisation that our planet is maybe at the brink of collapse due to climate change, and that we should use our success and resources into doing something about it.

K (Kailash, our CTO) and I have been talking about this for the last 3 years, and we think that maybe one of the answers to both the above problems lie in each other, at least in the India context. With our learnings and experience of building Zerodha, we believe that with the combination of the right set of people, intent, constant experimentation, the willingness to open up all our learnings, co-operations with Governments, and capital willing to take risk without expectations of return, we should be able to contribute in some way. To attempt this, we have set up the Rainmatter Foundation, a non-profit foundation that aims to support grassroots individuals and organisations, and companies working on problems related to climate change, with a focus on afforestation, ecological restoration, and livelihoods.

Sameer Shisodia, who is passionate, experienced, and knowledgeable in this area, has joined us as the head of the foundation. Sameer left his long career in the tech industry a decade ago and partly moved to Coorg to experiment with sustainable farming, farm collectives, and his personal passion, rejuvenating soil and forests. Read his brilliant blog to get an idea of Sameer’s thoughts and ideas.

The foundation’s website is rainmatter.org and we’ve created a public forum to engage with the community. If you have any queries or ideas you would like to share, you are welcome to participate on the forum.

Below is an introduction to the Rainmatter Foundation in Sameer’s words.


Rainmatter Climate Foundation is a Zerodha sponsored initiative focused on fostering and assisting ideas that help preserve and regenerate ecosystems. Our belief is that this needs both direct interventions as well as the enablement of larger platforms that involve a mainstream understanding of the need and benefits of these efforts while also scaling participation in them beyond the philanthropic efforts of a few. Indeed we do not see this as charity; it is an investment into our own future and wellbeing.

Amongst our core beliefs is that moving to a green economy and creating green jobs is an essential part of the changes needed for a better ecology. We also think that this needs to happen in a distributed fashion across geographies, with value and job creation everywhere and not being limited to a few urban centres. Reversing both migration and concentration of value, wealth and resources are a major need towards this and will also need a strengthening of public goods and services across India.

Rainmatter Climate Foundation is uniquely positioned to influence these efforts in terms of the market and technology skills and partnerships we bring to the table. Additionally, we are committing a $100mn fund towards this over the coming few years. This will be disbursed as grants and funding for projects in the above directions that become replicable models. It will also be used for the creation of open, collaborative platforms that cross-pollinate and scale many good ideas and successful experiments and help create a green economy everywhere. This includes our commitments to funding open source efforts that help create projects and platforms for climate change and related efforts. Rainmatter Foundation is also incubating and investing in entrepreneurship that helps with these directions and helps move towards a greener, more equitable and lower footprint economy. 

Our immediate efforts towards restoration include the creation of a 70 acre private forest that is being restored using ecologically sound reforestation principles, and one we hope will encourage many more with the means and intent to invest in the creation of critical ecosystems everywhere. We are exploring partnerships to assist various organizations including those in the government in their rewilding efforts. We have been supporting SwaYYam in getting a farmers’ collective to come together at the edge of the Bandipur forest, strengthening the green cover, improving the water tables and positively impacting livelihoods and the Center for Wildlife Studies’ Wild Shaale – a unique conservation-education program designed for rural school-going children living around wildlife reserves. We are creating a large subsidised/free nursery for the creation of more community micro-forests, and also help create more green livelihoods. Additionally we are financially assisting Mr.K.S.Gopal of the Centre for Environmental Concerns in his efforts towards creating a blueprint for greening road medians and islands in an ecologically sound manner. 

Amongst our earlier investments are Terra, an online climate school training climate entrepreneurs on climate science, policy, business, social justice, and Blue Sky Analytics, who crunch massive amounts of satellite and other data to provide high-quality, historical, real-time and predictive environmental intelligence.

Visit rainmatter.org for more.

Nithin Kamath

Nithin is the founder of Zerodha, and a founding director at the Rainmatter Foundation.

33 comments

  1. Rahul Krishna says:

    This is brilliant. Best of luck.

  2. Sriram says:

    This is awesome and amazing initiative

  3. Krishnanand Shenai says:

    All the best to Zerodha and Rainmatter team for this wonderful initiative.

  4. Shashank Shekhar says:

    This is a brilliant initiative. You inspire a lot of people sir.

  5. Raul says:

    Brilliant initiative, will support

  6. Pramodh says:

    Great work always!

    We are glad of Zerodha’s success.

    please update public forum link to https://grove.rainmatter.org/ [Small typo in underlying link]

  7. Vishy says:

    IMO… Cloud industry is now the biggest climate change contributor – with Zillions of processors being spun up “on demand” to serve to “millions of customers needs”.

    Putting a datacenter in the middle of a lake or in Iceland does not solve the issue – it is still heating up things -> at a net + effect.

    We need to rethink the way we consume “data at scale” in order to lower the heat being released. Efficient binaries that run with a lower cpu footprint without latency impact…improvements in npm distributions by taking off excess baggage on each build, using lightweight modules instead of “full libraries” (Like the recent numpy to numpy_financials split) from which we end up using only 5% of functionality… all these collectively will lower load times, cpu cycles and eventually slightly lower VCPU being spun up. We don’t need coders anymore… we need cloud efficient coders, people who are able to achieve same throughput via a lambda or a T2 micro vs a M5 large. Remember Pentium MMX 200MHz cpu days with 32 mb ram – I used to play NFS split screen 2 players… Now.. I play WoT Blitz with near zero network latency hitting someone in Singapore from India… This all heats up the planet. simple. We still managed to do things back then. The scale needs to be controlled now, somehow.

    Becoming a carbon neutral cloud provider by 2040 will not serve any purpose – there will be nothing left to neutralize by then.

    Plant more trees (higher oxygen generating ones (https://wiki.nurserylive.com/t/28-best-air-purifying-plants-for-indoor-outdoor-classified-to-nasa/183))… grow more roof gardens… Read up a book called Taming the Sun. Some really good models in there …

    Funny how the o2 percentage is “fixed” in the atmosphere by diatoms. We need funds from tech to flow in areas that grow more.

    Utpoian dream: Govt. gives us wood to burn – since temperatures are plummeting!

  8. Sparsh Bhure says:

    Climate change is known to all but only a few can sense its adverse impact. It would be great to have a detailed course offering on climate change which can give personalized examples to people based on their location .

    • Divya S says:

      Hi Sparsh,
      We are in association with terra.do
      Please check their website for more information on courses. They offer personalized support through which you may solve location specific issues. 

  9. ANSHU SARATHE says:

    Good

  10. Ankan says:

    What an amazing thought to work on with! Let’s get started before it’s damn late.

  11. Vimal Kumar R says:

    Awesome Initiative and good luck in all your endeavors.

  12. satyam sharma says:

    First of all , thanks for the initiative,
    I feel like, one of the famous srk dialogue from the movie om shanthi on I.e “Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho … to puri kainaat usse tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai”

    Long story short, we are a simple thinkers who are tackling plastic recycling + climate change + organic food (self growing + fresh consumption) by a simple idea at one shot, and we want to be heard,
    So since the org focus on the same,
    Please let us know how we can reach out and present out the idea!

    (Also, please let us know, whether org invest in pre – seed round, if not,
    any help regarding it would be appreciated, since we want to do it for planet A )

    Cheers

  13. Kishor Panda says:

    Interested to know more about prog.

  14. Anurag Jain says:

    This is Brilliant initiative
    Giving back to society

  15. Navin Kumar says:

    Awesome Kudos to the thought and action

  16. Parul Airen says:

    Great initiative!

  17. Satyam sharma says:

    Thanks

  18. SANJAY KUMAR says:

    A Noble Initiative.
    Good Luck. 👍

  19. Ankur Mehrotra says:

    A brilliant initiative by the best minds. Kudos to Zerodha team for sponsoring this excelling initiative. Hats off.
    Let me know if I can join you anyhow.

    • Dinesh Pai says:

      Hey Ankur, thank you for your kind words. Please explore our Grove forum here. We will keep this forum updated with opportunities where you can volunteer and contribute.

  20. Ambica Chaturvedi says:

    Outstanding initiative!
    Would love to contribute, let me know how?

    • Dinesh Pai says:

      Hey Ambica, please explore our Grove forum here. We will keep this forum updated with opportunities where you can volunteer and contribute.

  21. C.Doreswamy says:

    We in Oasis foundation, have similar alignment more or less like Rainmatter. you are close to the need of the hour and we are happy to associate with you and would like to share our Journey of more than 30 years in the field of Natural resource management through community participation. We are eager to join to work together in the following field with any like minded organization or Individuals
    1.Recharge of borewell/ dried up bore wells.
    2.Farm forestry in the farmers land.
    3.promote, Support and handhold rural microenterprises.
    4.Work towards gram swaraj in making every village/ Panchayat a self sufficient, independent and sustainable models.
    you are most welcome to write to us ( [email protected]) / call us (9449831551)for discussion

    • Dinesh Pai says:

      Please explore our Grove forum here. Please join us on this forum and we can coordinate our efforts on the initiative listed by you.

  22. Sathish Chandra says:

    Wonderful initiative.
    I am a 50years young man having about 25+ years of experience in different roles and institutions. Now in the process of setting up a small farm in Therubeedi village near Maralawadi, Harohalli Kanakapura taluk.

    Wish to know how can we associate to make things work better.

    • Dinesh Pai says:

      Hey Sathish, please explore our Grove forum here. We are building a community around projects similar to what you are executing on this forum, we can associate with you here.

  23. Vaishakh says:

    Hello sir,
    I am Vaishakh Menon, 21 from Mumbai.
    1) First of all Thank you so much for creating Zerodha kite and Varsity. It made me a well financially educated teen. My words won’t compensate the gratitude I feel for your work. 👍
    2) Secondly, Rainmatter is taking great step to fight against climate change. Just for your info. before Covid pandemic, I used to acrively work with NGO’s in MUMBAI in Beach cleaning activity, River cleaning, Tree plantation ( and have planted almost 750+ saplings with my friends).
    If Rainmatter intends to do some work in Mumbai, then I will be very happy to participate in afforestation programs and awareness campaigns.
    Thanks and cheers 🙂

    • Dinesh Pai says:

      Hey Vaishakh, thank you for your kind words. 🙂

      Please explore our Grove forum here. We will update this forum with initiatives we take up and I am sure we will find an opportunity for you to participate.

  24. Anoop Naralikar says:

    Hello sir,
    I am Anoop Naralikar, from Belgaum, Karnataka
    It feels amazing to be in a such a positive environment where everyone’s opinion matters. I appreciate all your hard work and dedication. I would love to share my ideas and thoughts in more detailed manner and be a part of this nice thought and concern regarding the mother earth.

    I would love to know how can we do things in a better way.

Reply to: Dinesh Pai