Azhar Iqubal is an Indian entrepreneur who is the co-founder and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the news-providing application Inshorts. He hit the headlines in October 2023 after he was selected as a judge, commonly referred to as “Shark,” in the business reality television series Shark Tank India.
Azhar Iqubal was born in 1993 (age 30 years; as of 2023) in Kishanganj, Bihar, India. After completing his schooling, he began preparing for the IIT JEE. He joined the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) in 2009. There, he studied computer science engineering. However, he dropped out of IIT in 2012 to become an entrepreneur. Azhar Iqubal – LinkedIn
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Azhar Iqubal belongs to a Muslim family in Bihar.
Parents & Siblings
There is not much information about his parents and siblings.
Wife & Children
He is unmarried and has no kids.
Climbing To Success
Starting With A Facebook Page
While studying in college, Azhar, along with two classmates, Deepit Purkayastha and Anunay Pandey, started a Facebook page named News In Shorts. According to him, he decided to start publishing news on Facebook because a lot of his classmates did not know what was happening in the country and the world. Another reason he cited was that traditional news websites and applications published articles that were too lengthy and time-consuming. He talked about it, in an interview, and said,
I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2013 along with my Indian Institute of Technology’s classmates Anunay Pandey and Deepit Purkayastha. We observed that Millennials were increasingly distancing themselves from the concept of reading news and the major hindrance was the long and bulky nature of the content and lack of reading time. Realising the issue, we decided to create a Facebook page called News in Shorts which focused on giving the readers quick summaries of news stories within the limit of 60 words. Today, Inshorts is India’s highest-rated and #1 English news app with more than 10 million active users.”
On the Facebook page, Azhar used to publish trending news in brief for people to read within a minute. After starting the Facebook page, he asked his friends and family members to share the page among their friend circles and soon the page gained many followers.
While studying at IIT Delhi, Azhar Iqubal, Deepit, and Anunay were shortlisted to attend several entrepreneurial seminars and events conducted by the Times Internet group’s TLabs. There, they interacted with many people and well-established entrepreneurs and managed to raise Rs. 10 Lakh against 10% equity for their business idea. In an interview, Azhar revealed that he got motivated to become an entrepreneur after he saw companies like Snapdeal and Flipkart expand their user base in India by raising funds. He also said that the economic policies implemented by the Government of India in 2009 created a favourable market for budding entrepreneurs.
Establishing As A Succesful Entrepreneur
In 2012, Azhar Iqubal decided to quit IIT Delhi to focus on developing a business. On 4 September 2013, the trio launched the mobile application News In Shorts through which news on trending topics was given to the users in just sixty words that took less than thirty seconds to read that too free of cost. The application was released for Android users. As the business expanded, he hired a team of professional writers. He also started monetising his application with the help of commercials. Azhar said, in an interview, that he never followed the traditional shift system of working and worked for more than 12 hours a day. In 2014, Azhar and his two friends managed to raise good investment funding in the C round funding in New Delhi. In 2015, the application’s name was changed to Inshorts and received investments of more than Rs. 25 crore. The application was launched for iOS users in the same year.
Initially, 80 to 100 news articles were published per day, but this number increased substantially to over 500. In April 2016, to increase the reach of the application in tier-two cities, Azhar launched the Hindi version of Inshorts. He was appointed as the director of Inshorts India Advertising And Services Private Limited on 10 January 2020. In 2021, Inshorts managed to bag investments worth $60 million. Till October 2023, Inshorts raised over $119 million over 6 rounds of funding from 8 investors. As of 2023, the application has more than 10 million downloads, making it one of the most downloaded and used applications in India. Its value stood at Rs. 3,700 crore (approximately) in October 2023.
On 16 November 2019, he became the director of Locvid Services Private Limited, which provided services related to accounting, book-keeping, auditing activities, tax consultancy, market research and public opinion polling, and business and management consultancy. In the same year, Azhar, along with Deepit and Anunay, launched a social media application named Public. The application aims at connecting the local communities in India with one another.
In 2021, the platform received an investment of Rs. 300 crores. In October 2023, the application had more than 100 million downloads, making it India’s largest location-based social network platform.
Awards & Honours
- Business World Young Entrepreneur Award
- The Most Enterprising Brands Award
- Leaders of Asia Award
- Fortune India 40 under 40 (2016)
- Business World 40 under 40 (2018)
- Forbes India 30 under 30 (2018)
- Forbes Asia 30 under 30 (2018)
- Entrepreneur of the Year (Media) by the Entrepreneur India Magazine (2022)
- MINI Cooper
- Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
- Porsche 718 Boxster
- Food: Dal Chawal
- Quote: “Life is not fair, get used to it” by Bill Gates
- Film: Chak De! India (2007)
- In an interview, Azhar Iqubal revealed that he drew inspiration from Sachin Bansal for bringing the startup culture to India.
- According to Azhar Iqubal, he did not develop the habit of reading until he started his business in publishing news articles.
- In 2015, The Times of India published an article on Azhar.
- Reportedly, his family had to face difficulties after Azhar decided to leave engineering studies at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.
- In October 2023, he entered the business reality TV show Shark Tank India as a judge.
- He is an avid traveller and has been to many countries.
- He likes to partake in adventure sports such as skydiving and scuba diving.