“Be intense, but don’t take any of this too seriously”
Completely alien to Indian kids’ experience today, I had to fight my parents to get into engineering.
In the early to mid 90s, a software engineering career path in India didn’t exist. My parents preferred a government career path for me, but I was always a geeky kid, and it was love at first sight with the first computer I encountered.
When I was in fifth grade, my school, located in a small town in the Himalayas, got one computer. I was allowed just one hour of computer time a week and I couldn’t get enough. For six years I did only an hour a week and still, a lightbulb went off. I’d do all my programming in my head and on paper, and would subsequently use that one hour to do the best I could to code.
The concept of buying a PC back then was akin to buying a nuclear submarine – the idea was in the realm of preposterous. In fact, I almost failed school because of this obsession, because it’s all I cared about, and it was all consuming.
I started with programming in BASIC and along the way I got into writing 3D game engines on DOS. This entailed teaching myself a few more languages – C, x86 assembly, C++ (Ah, the heady days of TurboC & VGA graphics!).
I chose Electronics as my college major, but ended up mostly hacking for various wacky ideas: neural networks on embedded boards, 8085 emulators, a CAM driver, few mini-languages – experimented a fair bit with LISP & Emacs. Founded my college’s Linux User Group, and fervently believed in the Free Software movement.
I went on to work for Oracle, then joined a startup as their first engineer, built a lot of good tech, joined Yahoo, joined another startup where I met my co-founder, and finally started calm.io – which Sequoia India invested in – and ended up being acquired by Nutanix in 2016. Those war stories for another time!
On the lookout for
I’ve always had a passion for working with founders and I have a deep conviction that some of the best global deep tech startups will be built out of India over the next decade.
Having sat on both sides of the table, I know that investors need a ton of empathy for what founders are going through when they’re building their business – especially during times when things aren’t working out.
While some founders may feel there’s a power imbalance in the investor-founder relationship, both sides want the startup to succeed.
I’ve been through the ups and downs, raised money, lost my co-founder, I’ve pounded the pavement on a daily basis, and much, much more.
I can relate to you as a founder, and I know what you’re going through. And I can talk tech (and show you my handcrafted .emacs file). I will question you and push you. I’ll delve into every bit of what you’re selling.
I’m looking for people who really know their stuff, people who are hungry to grow and keep learning, and people who are incredibly open-minded. I like audacious and ambitious founders, but those who keep their strong beliefs loosely held.
And of course, I prefer people who are polite above all else.Get in touch with Aaditya
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