business model of zerodha

Decoding the Business Model of Zerodha. How Does Zerodha Make Money?

Today, let’s decode the business model of Zerodha and learn about how Zerodha makes money.

In recent years, the financial services industry has witnessed a tremendous shift in how investors and traders interact with the stock market. Amidst this change, Zerodha emerged as one of the leading discount brokerages in India, revolutionizing the trading and investment landscape. In this blog post, we will examine Zerodha’s business model using Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas and explore how this company came into existence. We will also delve into the story behind its founding and the driving forces that have contributed to its growth and success.

Founding of Zerodha

Zerodha was founded in 2010 by brothers Nithin Kamath and Nikhil Kamath. Nithin, an avid trader, started his career as a sub-broker when he was just 17 years old. Over the years, he gained valuable experience and expertise in the stock market. However, Nithin was acutely aware of the high brokerage fees and the lack of transparency in the traditional brokerage system, which he felt were hindering the growth of retail investors in India.

With a vision to eliminate these barriers and make stock market investing more accessible, Nithin and his brother Nikhil, an accomplished trader himself, set out to build a platform that would democratize access to the financial markets. The result was Zerodha, a technology-driven, low-cost brokerage that aimed to empower the Indian retail investor.

Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas

To better understand Zerodha’s business model, we will use Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas, a strategic management tool that outlines the nine essential building blocks of a business model. These building blocks are:

  1. Customer Segments
  2. Value Proposition
  3. Channels
  4. Customer Relationships
  5. Revenue Streams
  6. Key Resources
  7. Key Activities
  8. Key Partnerships
  9. Cost Structure

Customer Segments

Zerodha primarily targets retail investors and traders in India who seek a low-cost, technology-driven platform for investing and trading in stocks, mutual funds, and other financial instruments. The company’s customer segments can be further divided into the following categories:

  • New investors: Individuals who are new to the stock market and seek a user-friendly platform with educational resources to kickstart their investment journey.
  • Experienced traders: Active traders who demand advanced trading tools, low-cost brokerage services, and real-time market data to make informed decisions.
  • Passive investors: Individuals who prefer long-term investment strategies, such as investing in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and require a platform that supports these investment options.

Value Proposition

Zerodha’s value proposition can be summarized as follows:

  • Affordable pricing: Zerodha pioneered the concept of discount brokerage in India, offering a flat fee structure with zero brokerage on equity delivery and a nominal charge for intraday and derivative trades. This pricing model has made stock market investing more affordable for millions of retail investors in India.
  • Advanced trading tools: Zerodha provides a suite of cutting-edge trading platforms, such as Kite, Coin, and Console, which cater to different trading and investment needs. These platforms offer a seamless trading experience, advanced charting tools, and real-time market data.
  • Educational resources: Zerodha is committed to empowering its users through education, offering a wealth of resources, such as Varsity, an extensive learning portal, and Trading Q&A, an interactive knowledge-sharing platform. These resources provide users with the knowledge they need to make informed investment decisions.
  • Transparent and hassle-free services: Zerodha emphasizes transparency in its business practices, providing users with a clear understanding of their charges, and offering prompt customer support. The company’s online account opening process is also seamless and paperless, making it easy for new users to get started.


Zerodha uses a mix of digital channels to reach and serve its customers, including:

  • Online trading platforms: Zerodha’s Kite platform is available as a web application and a mobile app, allowing users to access their accounts and trade from anywhere.
  • Educational portals: Zerodha’s Varsity and Trading Q&A platforms serve as knowledge hubs for investors and traders seeking to enhance their understanding of the financial markets.
  • Social media and online forums: The company actively engages with its users and potential customers through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, as well as online forums like Reddit and Quora.
  • Email and SMS notifications: Zerodha sends users regular updates and notifications about their accounts, market news, and investment opportunities through email and SMS.

Customer Relationships

Zerodha fosters customer relationships through various touchpoints:

  • Customer support: The company offers a range of support options, including email, phone, and live chat, to assist customers with their queries and issues.
  • Community engagement: Zerodha actively participates in online forums and social media, allowing the company to connect with its customers, address their concerns, and gather valuable feedback for continuous improvement.
  • Educational initiatives: By providing comprehensive educational resources, Zerodha aims to empower its customers to make informed decisions and build a strong, loyal user base.

Revenue Streams

Zerodha generates revenue through the following sources:

  • Brokerage fees: The company charges a flat fee for intraday and derivative trades, while equity delivery trades are offered at zero brokerage. This competitive pricing model has attracted a large number of customers to the platform.
  • Account opening and maintenance fees: Zerodha charges a one-time account opening fee and an annual maintenance fee for its Demat and trading accounts.
  • Other services: The company earns revenue from additional services such as call-and-trade facility, pledging of shares, and payment gateway charges.

Key Resources

Zerodha’s key resources include:

  • Technology infrastructure: Zerodha’s state-of-the-art trading platforms and applications are critical to its ability to provide a seamless and efficient trading experience for its customers.
  • Human resources: The company’s team of skilled professionals, including software engineers, financial experts, and customer support staff, plays a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing its services.
  • Intellectual property: Zerodha’s proprietary trading tools, algorithms, and educational content are essential to its competitive advantage in the market.

Key Activities

Zerodha’s key activities revolve around the following:

  • Developing and maintaining trading platforms: Zerodha continuously invests in the development, improvement, and maintenance of its trading platforms to ensure a superior user experience.
  • Offering educational resources: The company is committed to creating and updating educational content to help users make informed investment decisions.
  • Customer acquisition and support: Zerodha actively engages in marketing and promotional activities to attract new customers and provides ongoing customer support to retain its existing user base.

Key Partnerships

Zerodha has formed key partnerships with various entities, including:

  • Clearing corporations and depositories: Zerodha works with institutions like the National Securities Clearing Corporation Limited (NSCCL) and the Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL) to facilitate trade settlements and Demat services.
  • Payment gateways: The company has partnered with multiple payment gateways to enable seamless fund transfers for its customers.
  • Regulatory bodies: Zerodha maintains a strong relationship with regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Cost Structure

Zerodha’s cost structure primarily comprises the following expenses:

  • Technology infrastructure: The company incurs significant costs in developing, maintaining, and upgrading its trading platforms and applications.
  • Human resources: Zerodha’s workforce, including software engineers, financial experts, and customer support staff, represents a considerable portion of its operating expenses.
  • Marketing and promotions: Zerodha engages in various marketing initiatives to attract new customers and build brand awareness, which contributes to its overall cost structure.
  • Regulatory and compliance costs: The company incurs costs related to regulatory compliance, audit fees, and membership fees for stock exchanges and depositories.

The Zerodha Story: Revolutionizing the Investment Landscape

Since its inception in 2010, Zerodha has come a long way in establishing itself as India’s leading discount brokerage. The company’s founders, Nithin and Nikhil Kamath, identified the pain points faced by retail investors in India, such as high brokerage fees and a lack of transparency, and set out to address these issues through their innovative business model.

Zerodha’s flat fee structure and zero brokerage on equity delivery trades disrupted the traditional brokerage industry, making investing more affordable and accessible for millions of Indians. The company’s focus on leveraging technology to offer advanced trading platforms and tools further fueled its growth, attracting both novice and experienced investors and traders alike.

Moreover, Zerodha’s commitment to investor education has played a significant role in its success. By offering comprehensive learning resources like Varsity and Trading Q&A, the company has empowered its users with the knowledge they need to navigate the complex world of investing. This focus on customer empowerment has not only helped Zerodha build a loyal user base but also contributed to the growth of the Indian retail investor community as a whole.

Over the years, Zerodha has received numerous accolades for its innovative approach to brokerage services. In 2020, the company was awarded the prestigious “Startup of the Year” title at the Economic Times Startup Awards, highlighting its immense contribution to the Indian startup ecosystem.

Today, Zerodha serves over 5 million customers and accounts for a significant share of India’s daily trading volume. Despite facing stiff competition from both traditional brokerages and new entrants in the discount brokerage space, Zerodha continues to thrive, thanks to its unwavering focus on delivering exceptional value and service to its customers.

Zerodha’s success story is a testament to the power of innovation and customer-centricity. By identifying the challenges faced by retail investors and addressing them through a disruptive business model, the company has revolutionized the investment landscape in India.

Using Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas, we have dissected Zerodha’s business model into its nine essential building blocks. This analysis offers valuable insights into the company’s strategy, operations, and competitive advantage, allowing us to better understand the factors that have contributed to its phenomenal growth.

As the investment landscape continues to evolve, Zerodha’s relentless focus on technology, affordability, and investor education is likely to keep it at the forefront of India’s brokerage industry. The company’s journey serves as an inspiration for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to create lasting value and impact in their respective domains.

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