Born and raised in Rampur Manhyaran, India, Vinod Gupta moved to Nebraska in his early 20s. He grew up in a rural town that didn’t have roads, toilets, TVs, cars, or electricity. After serving a stint in the Indian Air Force, he enrolled at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur. He studied agricultural engineering and graduated in 1967. He moved to Nebraska in 1968 and continued his education at the University of Nebraska, earning a master’s degree in agricultural engineering in 1971.
He moved to Omaha and got a job at Commodore Corp., a mobile home manufacturer. This led to him building a database of mobile home retailers across the United States in his spare time so that Commodore could market its products to them. He gave them the option of buying exclusive rights for this database for $9000 but they declined. This meant he gave it to them for free but was able to sell it to other manufacturing firms.
He took out a $100 loan so he could pay for a direct marketing campaign about what his company offered. This led to five-figure checks coming in from mobile home manufacturers across the country. Vinod Gupta expanded his company to compiling lists of retailers in other industries. He eventually sold his interest in the company for $680 million.
He now owns an investment firm, Everest Group LLC. Vinod Gupta is also a philanthropist, starting the Vinod Gupta Foundation. He gives money to create educational opportunities for young people in India and the U.S. An example of this is Ram Rati Gupta Polytechnic. He provided $1 million to establish this women’s school that offers post-graduate degrees. Another example is providing money to ITT Kharagpur to establish the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law.
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