Everything you need to know about Neha Narkhede, the youngest self-made woman on India’s rich list

The Pune-based software engineer is known for creating open source communication platform Apache Kafka, which paved the way for her multi-billion dollar firm Confluent.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, September 22, 2022, 07:05 PM IST
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Neha Narkhede is a co-founder of Confluent. |

India’s startup ecosystem is teeming with young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, some of whom started their journey as teenagers to build unicorns. In a male-dominated environment, women such as Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, who founded Biocon when she was just 25 and Nykaa’s founder Falguni Nayar, have made a mark as self-made billionaires. Joining them on the Hurun rich list for 2022, Pune-native Neha Narkhede has emerged as the youngest woman to earn the spot on her own.

Creating her own path

Being captivated by technology ever since she received her first computer at the age of eight, Narkhede went on to complete her Bachelor of Science from Pune. She then moved to the US to pursue a Masters in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, before joining Oracle and then went on to work for LinkedIn. During her stint at the job search platform, Narkhede helped create an open source messaging system called Apache Kafka, which managed LinkedIn’s growing pile of data.

The development of this solution laid the foundation for Narkhede to launch her own big data firm Confluent, with two of her colleagues from LinkedIn in 2014. Today the company is valued at more than Rs 55,000 crore, taking Narkhede’s net worth to Rs 13,300 crore. The technology she provides allows companies to access real-time data in the form of a stream, and Confluent has a diverse list of clients ranging from Domino’s to Intel and Citi.

Inspiring and investing in innovation

Before making it to the Hurun Rich List, Narkhede was also named among the top 50 women in tech by Forbes in 2018. The former CTO of Confluent, is now an investor and advisor for startups including Abacus AI, HR software provider Gem, and Twitter filter Block Party.

The entrepreneur believes in preserving grit and being deaf to survive in an environment where there’s a lot of skepticism. She has also said in a CNBC interview that if she comes across a glass ceiling she believes in shattering it, but moves on if it's concrete.

Addressing the gender gap

Narkhede also believes that experience becomes the only parameter to evaluate women in the industry, replacing potential which is the focus in case of men. Which is why she says opportunities may take time to come by for women. This might be right since the youngest Indian man to enter the rich list is 19 while the youngest woman is 37.

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