Advice to My 18-year-old Self (Part 4)

In Difficult Times

There were times when I felt lonely and alone. It happens to all of us. That exam which did not go right, a relationship which suddenly changed, a mistake that should not have been. The answer to many of these unpleasant situations is to lock oneself in a room and brood. I wish I had not done that. I wish I had studied more. I wish I had not said that. Life doesn’t always go to plan.

In moments like these, you can always count on your parents. Their love is unconditional. It does not expect anything back. It is just there – invisible like oxygen in the air. Every breath has it. However old we grow, parents are always there for their children. And yes, we will always be children for them. So, in these moments, when you feel the world has turned against you, when nothing seems to be going right, always remember that you have your parents. It is not always possible for them to know what you are feeling given that you will be in a hostel. And even when you meet or talk for a few hours occasionally, you can always put on an act to make sure everything’s normal. But remember that when the times are difficult, they will always be there for you.

A parent’s life is not easy. For 18 years, you have been the centre of their lives. You were never a “meeting” scheduled on a calendar. They were always there when you wanted. You hurt yourself? They were there to take you to the doctor. You liked that train or plane to play with? They went that extra mile to get it for you. You wanted to read the book? Next day it was at your study table. You were too young to realise what they were giving up to make space for you. And now, as you leave home, think about what’s going on in their lives. There is a void nothing can fill. Even as you sleep in a faraway land, they are awake wondering about you. The words may not be spoken, you may not even be thinking about them, but you are always there in their heart, mind and soul.

So, remember that. If anything goes wrong, talk to them. They have always solved every problem you faced. They always will. You are never alone in this world. Even if everyone else is on the other side, they are on your side. Just their sight, their words will be enough to cheer you up and turn the tide. But remember, you have to tell them. Tell them when you are not feeling good, when you did something you should not have, when you broke a rule, when you crossed a threshold you should not have. They will show you the way ahead.


So, that’s it. The rest is for you – my 18-year-old self – to figure out. Nothing to add beyond the reco to explore and experiment, cultivate good habits and friends, and never forget that even in the hardest of times your parents are always there for you. Go out in the world, live life well, and be the best version of you. The next one month and four years will be unlike any that you have experienced. They are to be celebrated. Life is waiting with her embrace. You have to take the first steps.

Advice to My 18-year-old Self (Part 3)

Habits and Friends

It is very important to also set the ground rules of what you will not do. Peer pressure is a big deal. It can push in many different ways – and not all are for the good. This is where nurturing matters. Parents have imparted to us the framework for deciding between what is right and wrong. They know us better than we know ourselves. At no time should we do anything that we or they will regret. In that one moment of weakness among a group of friends, in that one sentence challenging us, we are very liable to go astray. That is the moment of truth. No one is looking, but there is an inner voice talking and eyes above watching.

Freedom comes with responsibilities. These have to be self-defined. There are no parents to set the boundaries. What time one wakes up, what time on esleeps, what one eats or drinks, what friends one makes, what habits one embraces – these are the decisions that only you can make. The guiding light must be the boundaries one sets.

Going from the constraints of home life to the extreme freedoms of dorm life can be exciting at first. No permissions, no answering questions, no asking! It is a life which I could only imagine when I went to IIT. But then I also realised soon enough that I have to cultivate habits carefully and make friends even more judiciously. Just because there were no minimum attendance requirements did not mean that I could miss class when I wanted. Just because there was no one to make sure I am awake did not mean I could sleep as long as I wanted. Just because there was no one to check the statements I was making did not mean I could lie to those closest to me. I had to make sure I stayed true to myself. I could not in a few months undo all the good my parents had taught me – just because I had the freedom to.

Above everything is the selection of friends. Not only will you select friends but your friends will also select you. Choose carefully. And do not let old friendships die just because some new ones are being formed. Even today, two of my best friends are those from school. While we may not meet as often, the friendship has stayed for 40+ years. It has survived slaps, short-lived anger, time, distances, and periods of silence. Friendships do not see caste, class, gender, or nationality. With friends, it doesn’t matter when one meets; the conversation can be continued as if you had met just yesterday.

Just as parents did not judge you, take you for what you are, and see and bring out the best in you, so do good friends. Cultivate good friendships and go the extra mile for them. Friendship is not a balance sheet where giving and taking needs to be matched. It is about unconditional giving. It is about being there when needed – and sometimes even when not needed. Friends are the one true constant in a world that changes, where short-term demands take over, where time pressures and deadlines are abundant.

Because when you look back to your younger days, you will not remember what was written on the blackboard. But you will always remember the vulnerable moments shared late at night, and the comforting hand that you felt on your shoulder.

Advice to My 18-year-old Self (Part 2)

Explore and Experiment

As my friend and I were parting ways after dinner, he asked me, “If there was just one thing you could tell 18-year-olds what would it be?” My quick answer was, “Explore and experiment.”

Life for the first time away from home offers many attractions and distractions. It is even more so if one enrolls in a university outside India. There are thus two big shifts: from home to hostel, from India to international. It is a change that cannot be planned for or even anticipated. New friends have to be made, new food and other habits have to be formed, new daily schedules have to be created. It is a world ready for an 18-year-old, irrespective of whether that 18-year-old is ready or not. With the benefit of hindsight, here is what I would tell my teenage self.

There’s much to learn and know. The academics in the classroom are just one aspect of life. They are the only constant. Beyond that, it is about the choices you make. While today’s 18-year-old can WhatsApp or Facetime parents daily, I would recommend both sides to give space to each other. Life is not about clinging on to the past and telling Mom what you ate for lunch and dinner. It is about creating some space to look ahead to the future. Just as I recommend contiguous time for writing and thinking through the constant inflow of messages on our always-on digital devices, 18-year-olds must also immerse themselves in their new world. The past has been about creating the foundation, the present and future is about constructing the building.

I discovered myself on the beautiful campus of IIT. I was an introvert who blossomed in the company of strangers who later became very good friends. I participated in cultural activities, went on treks, had long late-night chat sessions, and took long walks at midnight. I broke the rules I had grown up with – in a good way. More learning happened outside the classroom – and it was because I chose that path. I explored and experimented. I did not let my past life define my future. I tried many things for the first time. I kept within my boundaries, but without the rigidities. I shared stories with people who just a few weeks ago were complete strangers. I ate with people from backgrounds very different from mine. I spent hours in hostel rooms not my own talking about just about anything. I learnt the art of conversation watching and listening to others. I built relationships one person at a time.

When I look back, I should have perhaps done more of this. The weekends I chose to come home – could I have spent more time in the hostel? The hours I spent studying concepts which the mind failed to grasp – could I have learnt to play the guitar? Could I have acted in the hostel theatrical productions? Could I have learnt to play tennis or basketball? Could I have explored and experimented much more than I did? Because the four carefree years of undergrad will never come again. There is not a worry in the world, there is no fear of failure, there is no one to judge you, there is no need to be politically correct. There will be a time when all of that will matter, but not in those four years. So, if there’s one piece of advice to my teenage self I would give, it would be to do things you’ve never done before. Even things you thought you were not capable of. Explore, experiment – and expand.

Advice to My 18-year-old Self (Part 1)

Home in the World

At dinner with a friend, we started talking about our kids. Our 18-year-olds were headed to the US for undergrad. I mentioned to my friend about memories of my going to IIT-Bombay and hostel life, and the learnings during those four years. My friend, who had done his undergrad in the US, also had very good memories about campus life. As we ended our dinner, he said, “Rajesh, since you love writing so much, why not write a blog series on what advice would you give to 18-year-olds on the cusp of their undergrad life?” I liked the idea. As I thought more about it on the drive back home, I decided to frame it as advice that I would give my 18-year-old self, since most young people are not too excited about receiving life advice from an older parent or adult!

I entered IIT-Bombay at 17. I had never lived away from home. While there was some excitement about hostel life, there were also some anxieties about being away from parents. I had chosen IIT rather than go abroad for undergrad thanks to the sensible advice I had received from a friend who had gone abroad for his undergrad a year ago because IIT education was among the best in the world. So it was that in July 1984, on a drizzling Sunday afternoon, my parents dropped me to my hostel and soon, I was all alone. But not for long. Seniors were waiting to initiate the ragging ritual. Thus began hostel life. I had little or no time to myself between classes and getting introduced to seniors as a “freshie”. Word had spread that I could talk well and was quite sporting. (And could follow instructions on a Maggie packet!)

The first month passed by rapidly. New friends, new surroundings, new explorations. The sheltered life was a thing of the past. Here I was among peers, where the decision-making buck stopped with me. I would call home once a week for a quick update. Even though I went back most Friday nights or Saturday mornings, I was keen to return to my new world quickly. (Going home was about good mom-made food, sleeping, and getting my clothes washed.) The month became a semester, and then a year. My first year at IIT transformed me in many ways, and made me bolder, better, more independent. As it did for many of my friends. Each of us chose our own path through IIT – some concentrated more on academics, others blended studies with extracurricular activities. What we had was some starting advice from our parents to guide us, but eventually we were on our own. We had to fight our own battles, make our own decisions small and big, plan our own way forward. And in the process, we discovered ourselves.

The one advice I have given many parents through the years is to send their children away from home to a hostel for their undergrad. Let them grow up on their own, let them figure out their lives, let them become their best versions. One of the best ways to accelerate this process is to put them in surroundings different from home. As Abhishek and many others his age go out into the world in a process of learning and self-discovery, I asked myself, “What advice would I give him? Even better, what advice would I give my teenage self?”

Foreword in Dr. Anjali Malpani’s Book

I have written the Foreword in Anjali Malpani’s book, “Tries, Sighs, and Lullabies: The Untold Stories of Infertility.” About the book: “Tries, Sighs, and Lullabies: The Untold Stories of Infertility chronicles these and many other intimate and gripping real-life stories of loss, hope, endurance, and sacrifice. This remarkable compendium deftly describes the boundless desire and limitless struggle to build a family and the inexplicable joy that stems from becoming a parent, whether through reproductive technology, adoption, surrogacy, or natural means. Dr Anjali Malpani, a pioneer in the field of fertility treatment in India, successfully manages to capture the emotional, physical, and social dimensions of these complex stories and showcases the diverse facets of family, parenthood, and life at large. Through her empathetic and resonant writing, she provides an honest look at the traumas and triumphs involved in the journey of infertility. All in all, this thought-provoking and absolutely unputdownable collection of memories is sure to make you feel the soaring highs and the devastating lows of the characters which will stay with you forever.”

Here is an excerpt from my Foreword:

Abhishek is one of Anjali’s sixteen thousand babies. Born after five years of IVF treatment, he is truly Anjali’s baby. Bhavana and I had almost given up after four years – the emotional upheavals being as much as the medical challenges. But Anjali never gave up. She pushed us for one more try. I was at a friend’s place in Atlanta when Bhavana called to give the good news. For me, the words which came out were “Thank You, Anjali.”

Our journey with Anjali and Dr. Anirudha Mapani had begun in 2000. Bhavana and I had been married six-and-a-half years when we first visited their clinic. I had known Anirudha earlier through interactions I had with them in 1993-94 when I was trying to do an image processing software and needed to analyse ultrasound scans. That time, I went as an entrepreneur. This time, we went as patients.

Going to Infertility specialists is not something one can discuss easily with family and friends (however close they may be). It is a difficult decision to make and it means that both husband and wife have to accept reality and make a joint decision to seek advice and help. While the Web can be a helpful resource in understanding problems and possible solutions, there really is no alternative to spending time talking with doctors. Especially, ones who are as warm, friendly and knowledgeable as the Malpanis.

…On April 19, 2005, Abhishek came into the world as a six-and-a-half pound baby after a Caesarian. I could not believe it till I saw him and held him in my own hands. Five years after our first meeting with the Malpanis and eleven-and-a-half years into our marriage, Bhavana and I were parents.

For me, the lasting memories of that day are when both Anirudha and Anjali came (separately) to Breach Candy Hospital and held Abhishek in their hands. He was, after all, their creation. He was a triumph of their determination as much as he was our dream come true.


Anjali has been a friend for Bhavana and me through these years. She exemplifies the joyful spirit of life itself with her infectious joie de vivre. For her, every day is a blessing, every moment to be lived – for a mission. Bringing more babies in the world. Always patient, always ready to answer every question, always persevering, she goes the extra mile. For her, there is no “patient” – only mothers-in-waiting.

The book tells the stories of Latika, Nicole, Jyoti, Lily, Pooja, Durga, Yasmin, Shivani, Lakshmidevi, Kanta, Sushma, Sudha, Rakesh and Arjun, and countless others. Through these pages, you will live their ups and downs, ask their questions, and get Anjali’s answers. As someone who was once sitting across the table from Anjali, I could not help but relive our trials and tribulations as I read through these stories. There is something magical about the birth of a baby. Most are fortunate to experience it in the natural flow of life. Some need help. And for them, God has sent doctors like Anirudha and Anjali.

As I finished reading the book, all I could do was echo the same words from a moment long gone by but never forgotten, “Thank You, Anjali.”

The Digital Revolutions in My Lifetime (Part 7)


Many years ago (2004), I had written about my Kumbh Mela Cycle theory – that big innovations in computing come every 12 years or so: “1945 saw the invention of the world’s first computer, the ENIAC. In the late 1950s, IBM switched from using vacuum tubes to using transistors, and also launched Fortran. In the early 1970s, we had the invention of the microprocessor, along with Unix and the relational database. In 1982-83, the personal computer was launched by IBM. In 1992-94, we had Wintel come into being, with the launch of Microsoft Windows 3.1 and the Intel Pentium. It also saw the creation of Mosaic, the graphical web browser, and the start of the proliferation of the Internet.” Almost two decades later, the cycle has (sort-of) continued: 2007 saw the launch of the iPhone, and in the late 2010s and early 2020s, we started seeing the rise of Generative AI.

Going forward, I think the Kumbh Mela Cycle will probably be compressed given the rapidity of innovation that is happening in multiple disciplines simultaneously. Even as it has been an amazing ride in my 56 years lifetime, tomorrow’s world promises a lot more. As consumers, business owners and managers, researchers and entrepreneurs, we will see many new and exciting technologies in our lives, with the promise of many more revolutions in the years and decades to come. Here is some crystal-gazing.

From my vantage point, there are two revolutions which will have a huge impact for consumers and businesses:

  • AR/VR (augmented reality and virtual reality): this may or may not lead to the metaverse and is taking longer to come to life, but it will transform how we communicate, play, socialise and get entertained. It is one innovation away – just like ChatGPT brought the 50 years of AI innovations to life.
  • Martech: this will shift focus from new customer acquisition (a $400 billion industry with half of it as AdWaste) to existing customers, and empower both brands and consumers at the cost of Big Adtech. I have written about this extensively.

ChatGPT’s response about the future digital revolutions (which I have edited lightly, and have also removed duplicates from earlier lists):

  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality
  2. 5G
  3. Blockchain, which is expected to lead to new applications in fields such as finance, supply chain management, and digital identity
  4. Quantum Computing, which will enable breakthroughs in fields such as cryptography, simulation, and optimization
  5. Autonomous Systems, such as autonomous vehicles and drones, which is expected to greatly increase efficiency and safety in transportation, delivery, and other industries
  6. Edge Computing, which involves processing data closer to the source of the data rather than in centralized data centers
  7. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which is a form of AI that mimics human intelligence
  8. 3D Printing, which is expected to greatly increase the efficiency and flexibility of manufacturing, as well as enabling new applications in fields such as bioprinting and space exploration
  9. Digital Twins, which are virtual representations of physical objects or systems
  10. Wearables, which will improve our ability to monitor and track our health, as well as enable new forms of entertainment and communication

Here is Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Tech (2022):

All this is just in the narrow world of the computing and digital ecosystem. Technology, defined broadly by Atanu Dey as know-how, or “knowledge of how to do”, continues to impact every sphere of life and business. So, lots to look forward to, and a great time to be an entrepreneur. Imagine, Innovate and Initiate!

The Digital Revolutions in My Lifetime (Part 6)


The cloud has transformed our lives – email, files, photos are all stored on servers rather than our own devices. Many of the services we use would not have been possible had it not been for the cloud. For enterprises also, software has started moving from the enterprise LAN to the cloud. Netcore has had SaaS (software-as-a-service) offerings for many years – though for the early years, we did not think of ourselves as a SaaS company.

The mindset shift happened when Kalpit (Netcore’s CEO) and I attended SaaStr, a conference in San Jose, in February 2019. As I wrote a couple of years ago: “Software developers wanted APIs that they could integrate into the code they were writing without having to talk to salespeople. For this, the product needed a self-serve and perhaps even a free trial. This needed a new approach to product development and sales. It needed targeting developers – which needed a very different approach then meeting CIO and CMOs. The SaaS way of marketing and sales was also different – a new world of SDRs (sales development representatives) and ABM (account-based marketing) was enabling companies to reach out globally without a physical presence in multiple countries. The primary metric was not annual sales but MRR (monthly recurring revenue). There was a new language of business that had fuelled a new generation of companies – and we were oblivious to both the vocabulary and the competition. SaaStr opened my eyes to this new world. And the question that kept coming to me was – why had I not seen it earlier? A few knowledgeable colleagues had told me about the new world of SaaS – I ignored them repeatedly. I did not recognise that a new set of decision-makers were emerging in enterprises – developers, product managers. I also failed to recognise that a new class of companies was emerging – aggressive, exponentially growing startups. I was still locked to a worldview that sales and marketing of our solutions had to be via face-to-face connect in large organisations.”

We have now brought in the SaaS approach to every aspect of our business. Netcore has grown to $100 million ARR, through a mix of organic expansion and acquisitions. SaaS is the one revolution I was late to recognise, but did not miss. We are now in the thick of the action with many new ideas around CPaaS – hotlines with Email 2.0 (AMP) – and Martech – unified stack and site search for omnichannel personalisation. The ProfitXL [LINK] focus is what can help Netcore expand its footprint globally.


As I look back, the computing revolution changed the direction of my life, the Internet revolution gave me my first success, the mobile revolution was what I missed, and the SaaS revolution has given me the foundation to build an enduring, great company. An entrepreneur’s life is about climbing mountains beyond mountains; at age 56 I am fortunate to have climbed many even though I stumbled on a few. I have seen amazing changes in digital technology through my lifetime, and I am sure I will see many more in the future.

The Digital Revolutions in My Lifetime (Part 5)


I was early to the mobile revolution, but this was the one I missed as an entrepreneur – multiple times. As part of Netcore, I had started multiple services: an SMS content service, an SMS groups service, a mobile web portal, and had even tried something called to create a dedicated mobile portal for every mobile. All failed. What I missed was the smartphone and apps revolution – both from the B2C and B2B standpoints.

I was one of the early buyers of the iPhone. I was in the US in August 2007 – a few weeks after it was launched. I went to the Apple store in New York and bought one. I had a colleague at work do a jailbreak so I could use it in India. I should have seen the power and potential of apps, but for some reason, I did not focus on the consumer side. I stuck to the enterprise SMS services that Netcore had launched, perhaps bitten by the repeated failures of the MyToday variants in the previous few years.

A decade or so later, I missed the app engagement and analytics layer in the marketing automation platform Netcore was building. While I had correctly identified the emergence of martech, the focus was more on journeys and the web platform. The exponential growth of apps energised by the launch of cheap data from Jio was a big miss in Netcore’s journey. We did catch up in terms of features over the next few years, but as they say “the early bird catches the worm” and we were late.

As I look back, the mobile revolution was what I missed in India. It was going slowly until Jio revolutionised mobile data with its aggressive pricing. In the early days, could I have focused on global markets like I did with IndiaWorld? Perhaps. Maybe, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money in the global mobile apps game where I thought we would not have a significant advantage working out of India. But I underestimated the power and ubiquity of the smartphone. During those years, I was also trying to think of ideas to transform India with digital technology. While this later came to fruition with Niti Digital and my work in the 2011-14 political campaign, I had by then moved too far away from technology to get an intuitive sense of the new opportunities being created in the mobile and smartphone era. I do sometimes wonder: what if I had recognised the potential of apps and smartphones? I was an early adopter and I knew something transformative had taken place with the launch of the iPhone. What should I have done as an entrepreneur? All I can say after all these years is: it was a road not taken, and that did make a difference.

The Digital Revolutions in My Lifetime (Part 4)


In the summer of 1994, I was looking for something new for my entrepreneurial venture. I had failed multiple times over the past couple years, and needed to pivot. This is what I wrote in 2004:

The Internet was far removed from my life (other than using email through an email account on NCSTs servers, along with the Usenet newsgroups). I had a business developing image processing software. That was just not working. Efforts to sell our Image WorkBench solution to metallurgists and medical institutions had been largely unsuccessful. It was two years since I had returned from the US to set up a business in India, and I could see that we had gone quite wrong in our business activities.

As I started thinking then about what to do, I started reading various magazines trying to spot future trends. It was then that I came across the Internet as the new information highway. For all practical purposes, India’s linkage to the Internet then was through ERNET, the educational and research network. Access to it was limited.

Some more reading and thinking led me to put a concept called SpiderNet. I imagined it as a network that would have all kinds of India-specific information which people could use their computers to dial into. Though I didn’t make the link then, it was a kind-of private CompuServe or AOL. The only operating network then in India was Business Indias aXcess. So, there seemed to be plenty of opportunities.

The summer of 1994 was when I put together my first ideas for an electronic news and information service. As the months passed, the SpiderNet ideas gave way to IndiaWorld, an Internet-based news and information service primarily focused on Indians outside India and others interested in India. Instead of trying to set up our own network, we would use the Internet as the distribution medium.

I launched IndiaWorld as India’s first Internet portal in March 1995. Here is the story:

The IndiaWorld story begins in September 1994. I was in the US, trying to figure out a good business to do in an area other than software exports. It was the time when the Internet and Web were just about beginning to catch people’s fancies. I spent a few weeks at a friend’s place, browsing the Web on a 14.4 Kbps dial-up modem with Netcom’s Netcruiser account. The experience was absolutely amazing. It was quite evident then that the Web as a medium would have a significant impact on how information was disseminated. The Web offered a good business opportunity: attract the NRIs (I was one myself!) with good intent, and then look at offshoots in electronic commerce.

That was the vision of IndiaWorld: a bridge between Indians worldwide.

On my return to India in November 1994, I wrote to various publishers and talked to a number of companies and individuals to participate in the venture by offering their content. It was tough explaining the Internet and the Web to people in India then: there was no commercial Internet access provider (our “shell” account was through NCST/ERNET). Most thought the Internet to be another variation of a satellite channel! I would take a notebook with NCSA Mosaic, and show them the power of hyperlinks. It wasn’t quite clear how it would make an impact on businesses, but yes, it was going to transform how NRIs got their information.

Our focus was on IndiaWorld as a news and information service for NRIs. With help (and content) from Indian Express, India Today, Dataquest, Reader’s Digest, Kensource, Crisil, CMIE, DSP Financial, Professional Management Group and Laxman, IndiaWorld was formally launched from a server in the US on March 13, 1995.

(There is more on the IndiaWorld story here.)

And the rest, as they say, is history! Five years after imagining IndiaWorld, I sold it to Satyam Infoway for $115 million in what was then one of Asia’s largest Internet deals. I am still remembered as one of India’s two early Internet pioneers. (Sabeer Bhatia, who sold Hotmail to Microsoft, for $400 million, is the other.) I did it out of India – riding the Internet revolution and its many ups and downs through five years. The PC introduced me to the digital world; the Internet gave me success, money, fame, and freedom.

The Digital Revolutions in My Lifetime (Part 3)


In 1982, TIME magazine named the PC as its “Machine of the Year” (instead of naming a “Man of the Year”). An excerpt: “There are some occasions, though, when the most significant force in a year’s news is not a single individual but a process, and a widespread recognition by a whole society that this process is changing the course of all other processes. That is why, after weighing the ebb and flow of events around the world, TIME has decided that 1982 is the year of the computer. … TIME’S Man of the Year for 1982, the greatest influence for good or evil, is not a man at all. It is a machine: the computer.”

I am certain that the cover story influenced my father to purchase a computer in 1983 for his office. It was a decision that changed the trajectory of my life. I was in college (11th standard at St. Xavier’s College). With free time on my hands, I would go to my father’s office and write software. Here is what I had written on my previous blog in 2004: “I remember using my first PC in 1983-4. I remember getting a ZX Sinclair home but didn’t use it much. At the same time, my father had also got a computer at work. It was very expensive (Rs 200,000 or so, when the dollar was Rs 8 per dollar). Since we couldn’t find a software programmer who would stay long enough (!), I decided to learn BASIC programming, and would go after college and write programs on it. [I] wrote many interactive games then: one that simulated a one-day cricket international (remember that was the time India had won the Cricket World Cup), Monopoly, and a game I called MinderMast (guessing a 4-digit number in upto 10 tries). The computer was my life then – that was how my love affair with technology began. Till then, I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps and become a civil engineer and build bridges and buildings. The computer in the office changed my life.”

I learnt some theory about the digital world during my IIT years, and did some low-level assembly language programming for a communications project. Computers came back into my life at Columbia University during my Masters education. That is when I started writing software seriously, something I continued at NYNEX, and then the early days of my entrepreneurial career. I wrote (along with my co-founder Sanjay) a multimedia database in 1992-3, and then an image processing software (Image WorkBench) in 1993-94. None of these succeeded commercially. By then, the next revolution was already underway – and I had already started thinking about how I could play a part in it.