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Home / Markets / Cryptocurrency /  At start, they even struggled to pay rent. How two IITians built one of India's largest crypto exchanges

It's been a roller coaster ride for cryptocurrencies in India since the ascent. And so are the stories of the people who have created a business out of these cryptos. The volatility of digital coins gets easily reflected in the lives of Neeraj Khandelwal and Sumit Gupta, the founders of one of India's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, CoinDCX.

Speaking to the Humans of Bombay, the founders recall the early phase of the launch of CoinDCX, how the RBI played a spoilsport for their ambitions and how things panned out at the end. This is their startup journey:

It started at Kota

“Neeraj and I are childhood buddies. Growing up as small towners, the mention of Mumbai and IIT sounded so aspirational. We’d hear people say, ‘IIT Bombay mein admission koi aasan kaam nahi.’ So we decided to study as a team to get into IIT.

During our prep days in Kota, we used to live with 3-4 flatmates. To save money, we’d travel by train and survive on the food from the mess. Sometimes, we’d treat ourselves to street food.

Cryptography class

And when we got into IIT Bombay, Neeraj and I ended up in the same cryptography class. We’d spend time playing games, discussing crypto, and the future! It was our dream to start something we could call our own.

Started from a flat

We launched CoinDCX from Neeraj’s flat; our venture would help traders build strong crypto exchanges. We only had enough savings to sustain for 3 months. So we tried convincing people to work for a low pay. Everyone told us, ‘You’re investing in a market that’s niche.' We had to borrow from our families to stay afloat.

RBI bans banks

And then, RBI ordered banks to stop trading with cryptocurrency companies. Our investors backed out; we were devastated. We could either give up or change our strategy. We chose the latter; Neeraj said, ‘Nothing worse can happen to us. We can only move up now.’

So with a team we could count on our fingertips, we worked tirelessly. We got our own office, and after the reversal of the ban our investors came back; we’d weathered the storm!

Remarkable journey

Today, it’s been 3 years since; we’ve hired over 150 people, we have over 2 million users, and our daily turnover is 100 crores. We’re changing the way people perceive crypto! Neeraj and I chuckle when we recount working out of a flat, almost broke to pay the rent. But no matter how tough the times got, we knew we’d be able to pick each other up and keep moving, because the hustle never stops...and neither do we."

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