About Tej Kohli
“We’ll see an explosion of opportunities as new technologies are perfected and demonetised in such a way that it becomes easy for entrepreneurs and business leaders to intuitively ‘plug into’ them to build new applications, much like they do the Internet. Kohli Ventures is at the heart of that.
Who is Tej Kohli?
Tej Kohli is the the Chairman of Kohli Ventures. He is the former founder of a series of companies clustered around the development of payment gateways and fraud protection services for high-risk online sectors during the dot com boom. In the early 2000’s his companies dominated the high risk online payments sector and employed hundreds of software engineers in India and Costa Rica.
His first major liquidity event occurred in 2006 when Tej Kohli sold one of the companies in the first of what later became a series of high value trade sales. Tej Kohli used the proceeds from the sales and their multiple years of earn out liquidity to formally establish three organisations: The Tej Kohli Foundation, Zibel Real Estate and Kohli Ventures.
What is Tej Kohli’s background?
Born in Delhi, India, Tej Kohli’s lifelong interest in technology started when he graduated in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 1980. In 1981 he moved to California when his mother, who was one of the first female Diplomats in the Indian Government, was posted to the USA.
Tej Kohli enjoyed prodigious early success in California as a real estate investor, acquiring multi-unit residential buildings from failed Savings & Loan institutions at cents on the dollar and re-selling the units individually to the sitting tenants. Later the company would collapse amid an investigation into one of its projects, which led to a fall from grace for Tej.
It was 1999 when Tej Kohli found himself in Costa Rica amidst the excitement of the dot com boom. He founded a company specialising in building payment gateways with teams of developers in Costa Rica and India, which quickly grew into a conglomerate of companies that he sold from 2006 onwards. This major liquidity event was an important milestone which facilitated a life transition from entrepreneur to investor and philanthropist.
As a philanthropist Tej Kohli has instigated and funded grassroots projects targeting a range of global health issues, most notably by funding treatment interventions that have cured tens of thousands of people of corneal and cataract blindness in some of the world’s most deprived communities. Tej Kohli has also funded innovative research for the prevention and cure of blindness.
As an investor, Tej Kohli has invested across a variety of verticals, most notably in artificial intelligence, robotics and eSports. Today Tej Kohli is Europe’s biggest individual eSports investor and he continues to back ventures through Kohli Ventures.
Why has Tej Kohli invested in through Kohli Ventures?
Tej Kohli formed Kohli Ventures to provide an efficient vehicle for the investment of the incoming liquidity arising from earn-out provisions attached to the sale of companies such as Estacion Tramar. Kohli Ventures’ investment criteria are unique because Tej Kohli prefers to be the sole investor in a venture, working directly alongside founders and continuing to fund all future funding requirements as well as providing substantial intellectual capital support until an exit is achieved.
His passion for deep tech has driven Tej Kohli to focus the investments of Kohli Ventures into growth-stage ventures in machine learning, robotics, smart sensors and the enabling technologies of the artificial intelligence economy. He has committed over $100m to the ‘Rewired’ venture studio and into the Rewired.GG esports venture fund.
Tej Kohli is also the lead backer of Detraxi, a US-based biotechnology company that has developed a proprietary solution that could solve some major global health challenges. The company is working with some of the world’s most talented scientists across fluid replacement, diagnostics, transplantation, and regenerative medicine.
In 2014 Kohli Ventures fully acquired Dynacart, a universal payment processing company that has since become a major international marketplace and e-commerce platform provider. In 2010 Kohli Ventures backed an M&A roll-up of plastic surgery clinics in the USA, exiting in 2015. And in 2015 Kohli Ventures led the buyout and turnaround of a B2B SaaS platform technology provider that still employs over 300 of the world’s best software developers across eight countries.
Through Kohli Ventures’ Tej Kohli also seeks to make impact investments that can have a humanitarian as well as a commercial impact. Social impact is a key element of the investment calculus that is used by Kohli Ventures to assess new opportunities. In 2015 Tej Kohli backed a renewable energy company in South East Asia that provided off-grid solar products to bring clean and renewable devolved power generation to thousands of poor homes in rural India and Africa; exiting in 2017.
What does Tej Kohli seek to invest in today?
Tej Kohli transacts the majority of his new investments through Kohli Ventures, with a focus on AI, robotics, biotech and esports. The two key tenets of the Tej Kohli investment philosophy are exponential growth and social impact. Ventures must be able to demonstrate a clear and tangible pathway to growth and/or to having a social impact on a global scale.
What is Tej Kohli’s net worth?
Tej Kohli’s net worth includes substantial investment holdings in private and public companies and investment funds as well as in traditional investment instruments and cryptocurrency. Tej Kohli is also owner of the Zibel Real Estate portfolio which holds real estate in South East Asia, the UAE, and Western Europe; and which has a mandate to attain a $1billion net worth through acquisitions by 2026. Tej Kohli does not disclose his net worth in the public domain as a matter of longstanding policy.
What is #TejTalks?
Tej Kohli shares his thoughts in his #TejTalks blogs and social media posts. Tej Kohli blogs as #TejTalks about subjects including real estate, cryptocurrency, deep tech and investing on Ghost, CityAM and The Motley Fool. On Medium.com and on the World Economic Forum, Tej Kohli blogs about blindness, inequality and poverty.
What else is there to know about Tej Kohli?
Tej Kohli is a passionate hyper-car collector and also a oenophile with a growing collection in his cellar. He is a devotee of sartorial style and accessories, and is the owner of one of the world’s finest collections of cufflinks. He is a committed family man who is father to two teenagers who occupy the majority of his personal time. As a team owner, he is also an eSports fan.
What is Tej Kohli’s charity called?
Tej Kohli has committed to allocating a portion of his wealth into grassroots not-for-profit projects, and so a proportion of the Kohli Ventures investment return directly funds these projects. In 2018 the Indian Institute of Technology conferred its Distinguished Alumnus Award upon Tej Kohli in recognition of his achievements “serving society at large” . Tej Kohli ‘s philanthropic projects include the Tej Kohli Foundation and the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation.
The Tej Kohli Foundation
The Tej Kohli Foundation engenders the faith of Tej Kohli in the promise of new technologies. The ‘Rebuilding You’ philosophy that Tej has instilled into the Tej Kohli Foundation stems from his desire to rebuild people and communities by making life-changing interventions, often using technology.
Until 2021 the biggest Tej Kohli not-for-profit project was the ‘Tej Kohli Cornea Institute’ in India. It welcomed 223,404 outpatients and completed 43,255 free surgical procedures between 2015 ad 2019. This experience led to Tej Kohli’s obsession with solving the poverty-driven treatment gap by developing a treatment for blindness which is affordable and accessible and scalable. In July 2019 Tej Kohli gifted $2m to Harvard Medical School to fund such innovations.
The Tej Kohli Foundation is also engaged in projects including combating child hunger in the UK and Costa Rica. In November 2019 it launched its ‘Future Bionics’ program, which provides 3D-printed ‘bionic’ arms to disabled young people.
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation
The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is a charity that was co-founded by Tej Kohli and ‘God of Sight’ Dr Sanduk Ruit in early 2021. The charity conducts high-volume micro-surgical outreach camps to cure and alleviate blindness in the world’s poorest communities. The charity shares many stories on YouTube: