Raj Kundra: From a shawl merchant to IPL team owner

Kundra's journey from a college dropout to becoming a co-owner of an IPL team is the stuff of fairytales.

Raj Kundra, the co-owner of Indian Premier League franchisee Rajasthan Royals, has put the existence of his team in the lucrative Twenty20 league in jeopardy, with his confession that he has placed bets on matches in the league over the last two-three years including on his own team. Kundra, who has reportedly lost around Rs 1 crore placing bets in the last three IPL seasons, placed the bets through his business partner Umesh Goenka.

Kundra, who, along with his wife, Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, owns a 11.7 percent stake in Rajasthan Royals, gambled through Goenka, mainly by giving verbal instructions on the amount he would place and on what, a Times of India report said.

Kundra is a close friend of Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh, who was arrested for betting on IPL matches in May 2013.

Kundra's journey from a college dropout to becoming a co-owner of an IPL team though is the stuff of fairytales. The 37-year-old, a college dropout, was born on 9 September 1975 in London, and started his entrepreneurial journey from a chance visit to Nepal. His father was an immigrant from Punjab, who worked as a bus conductor in London before becoming a small businessman; while his mother worked as a shop assistant.

According to his website, www.rajkundra.net, Kundra found the Pashmina shawls in Nepal, and he imported a large quantity to the UK before selling them to all the major fashion houses in London in the 1990s and that's where he made his money. Kundra then turned into a globetrotter of sorts as his various investments and ventures included Mining, Real Estate, Renewable Energy, Entertainment and Hospitality as he tapped business opportunities in Antwerp (Belgium), Russia, Ukraine and UAE.

"Life teaches you many things. My journey as an entrepreneur has been my practical MBA in life! On the way I have made many mistakes and learnt from them. I have picked up many wise quotes on the way and my inspiration is still the great Warren Buffet," Kundra says on his website.

Kundra's current business interests include Kundra Constructions, Essential Sports Media (ESM), TMT Global, Iconic Investment, Group Home Buyers, Ashwini Steel and Gold GT. The Mumbai-based Kundra Constructions is a construction and interior design company, while ESM is an entertainment company which is into motion picture and distribution as well as television programming apart from sports. ESM till date, however, hasn't made any film or television serials.

TMT has a prediction system for stock markets; Iconic Investment is a privately run fund trading in the equity markets and Gold GT is a trading and investment company based in UAE. GroupHomeBuyers.com has "Best Deals for Home Buyers" and Ashwini Steel makes mild steel from scrap.

He also raises funds for his wife’s charity ‘The Shilpa Shetty Foundation’, whose core activities include AIDS awareness and lighting up un-electrified villages in India. Kundra and Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt together launched India's first professionally organized mixed martial arts fighting league — the Super Fight League - on 16 January 2012.

Kundra owns property in Burj Khalifa in Dubai and bungalows in London and Mumbai. He also has a taste for fast cars and owns a Lamborghini among others.

Shetty is his second wife. Kundra was earlier married to Kavita, who stays in London with their daughter. Kavita claimed that Shetty broke her rocky marriage, and that Kundra began to insist on a divorce after meeting the Bollywood actor. Kundra does not meet his daughter after the "dirty divorce" because he does not wish to confuse the child about a father who is in “her life and yet not being in her life”.