Most Interesting People 2017: Kumar Arora

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The local entrepreneur and investor showed us the true meaning of hustle on the LeBron James' reality show Cleveland Hustles.

Why He’s Interesting: The local entrepreneur and investor owns Innovation Chemical Technologies and Rogue Eyewear — just to name a few of his notable startups — and is co-owner of the popular streetwear brand Ilthy. Arora was one of four investors on LeBron James’ CNBC business reality show Cleveland Hustles, which helped aspiring entrepreneurs such as Cleveland Bagel Co. and Old City Soda secure funding to open storefronts. 

Home School: A first-generation Indian, Arora lived in Little Italy and then North Royalton with his father, a chemistry professor at Case Western Reserve University and his mother, an artist. “Growing up, I got the best of both worlds. That required me to think abstractly with the art side but analytically on the science side. And I think I bring that mentality to business.” 

Tech High: In high school, Arora considered a career in medicine. “I wanted to be a doctor, but my inner passions were always in tech and video games.” He learned programming on the side, built robots and dreamed of making enough money as a doctor to eventually open a video game studio. But as a pre-med major at Ohio State University, he started doing marketing for events and nightclubs. “The quiet kid in the back of the room became the center of attention, throwing parties and being that guy to tell you what party to go to and what club to be at.” 

Up and Running: By 21, Arora was promoting a dozen events a month, drawing 1,500 people to parties and bringing celebrities and artists to Columbus. He believes passion and hard work can make anything possible. “That’s
been my biggest motivator. Just this idea of being curious and seeing how far can I really go.” 

Do the Hustle: On Cleveland Hustles, Arora took hands-on roles from cleaning bathrooms to shooting photos for the website. “If you’re in the trenches, you should be able to pick up anything and everything for the success of your business. And that’s kind of my mentality. If someone’s got to do it, and no one can, I’ll do it myself.” 

Forward Thinker: Arora admires other entrepreneurs who dabble in diverse fields and aren’t afraid to shake things up. One of his favorite innovators — Elon Musk, who founded Tesla Motors — is known for doing just that. “Every industry he’s gone into, he’s always revolutionized what he’s done and he’s always forward thinking.” 

Living Legend: Arora has been playing The Legend of Zelda titles since he was 4 years old and still busts out his Nintendo 64 every now and then. “I love its puzzle-solving. I love its history and its inventiveness in each iteration.” 

Major League: Arora’s favorite Ilthy shirt is a white baseball jersey with red shoulder stripes and red lettering inspired by the Cleveland Indians uniforms. A script Ilthy is subbed in for the word Indians. “It’s a classic.”

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