I got my first computer when I was ~8 years old – and I was instantly hooked! Growing up I was always fiddling with computer programs, hacking video games, and trying esoteric concepts. But I didn’t enjoy programming then. I tried formally learning it twice, in high school and again in university. Both times it was C/C++, and while I was okay at it, it felt boring.
Then in mid-2011, through a combination of boredom and desperation (needed to make money), I started learning how to make websites with HTML and PHP. Now this was fun! This was very different than writing bubble sorting algorithms in C/C++. Building real, tangible, productive things with code that I can sell to other people? I became obsessed! Soon enough I picked up Ruby language and Rails framework, and there was just no looking back.
It has been more than a decade now, and while I don’t program all-day-long like I used to, I’m always coding something up and still love it! I’ve worked on a very broad range of problems by now, and written software using many different languages and frameworks. Most of my best work has been within companies, but I do have my share of personal projects on GitHub. 👨🏾💻
Startups & leadership roles
I’ve been enterpreneurial since I was a kid. My first business was an Origami pop shop when I was ~10 years old.
My first real business was a web development agency named Acutezz, which I’d started in mid-2011 after learning to code. Having my own agency business at a young age gave me a good taste of making it on my own. But soon I was keen to level up my skills, and to learn ins-and-outs of world class startups. So I ended up joining Shopify in 2012.
Starting new teams within Shopify was often like a founder’s work. Someone with a great idea can write about it, pitch it, gather resources, and bring people together to work on it. And potentially that group can spin off into a team. Some would call it ‘intrapreneurship’. I’d started and ran a team called ‘Team India’ that developed new products for emerging markets.
I re-embarked on the enterpreneurship track in 2017. I also moved temporarily back to India, to Bangalore, as it was a buddying new tech hub on global stage. I started a few different startups there with some friends – one of which even got accepted in YC’s Startup School program.
In 2020 I co-founded Dwelling with a couple of folks in Toronto, and I ran engineering there. Dwelling was a Fintech product for homebuyers in Canada, and has since pivoted to being a tech-enabled real estate service operating in Texas.
In 2021 I re-joined Wavy, a startup where I was previously founding engineer. I ran Product at Wavy, helped scale the team, and transform from being a tech-enabled service to a SaaS product. Wavy has raised $2.5 million and is going strong. I’m still active there as a product advisor.
I’m married to Divya Bora. We’ve known each other since 2007. We have two wonderful daughters together – born in 2021 and 2023. We live in Greater Toronto Area. 🏡 👨👩👧👧
I love being a dad. I’d taken months-long parental leave after both kids. I feel parenting is one of the most important jobs to do in life. I spend a lot of my time bandwidth helping raise our kids. I feel really lucky to be able to do so financially. It’s hard yet rewarding work.
It’s not that different from running a startup actually – highs are super high (e.g. a baby’s pure laughter) and lows can be super low (e.g. not getting enough sleep for days on end).
Stocks & angel investing
I’m a bit of a thrill seeker. I like taking (mostly calculated) risks. For example, flying solo in the air after a few days of learning paragliding.
I count “active investing” in that bucket of fun-but-risky things to do. Most people are recommended against it. Most people are adviced to just “index funds dca and chill”. That is correct advice indeed. But for everyone?
I enjoy researching and picking stocks. I only invest in what I understand – which is mostly tech so far. I’ve been doing it for about 7 years now, and so far I’ve “beaten the market”. I don’t do it because of that though, it’s just fun.
Examples: I bought $PDD at $19 back in 2018 when it was mostly unknown, $TSLA at $15 in 2019, $ZM at $118 at the beginning of pandemic (and sold), $COIN at $38 in 2022, $TSM at $109, $META at $160, etc. to name a few. 🤑
Even if 30 years later my cumulative average returns were less than market average, I would not care much. Because the process of finding, valuing, and investing in individual companies is fun.
I also angel invest sometimes – have done so in a few Indian and Canadian startups.
Shopify will always have a unique place in my heart. The company and the leaders there, changed my life. I was an early-ish hire – joined when it was ~80 people in 2012, and left when it was ~3000 in 2017.
I’d become somewhat internet famous in 2013 after sharing the quirky story of how I got hired there. It was a rare life event indeed. It’s definitely not everyday that a complete outsider living in a small town in India, with no big labels in his CV, gets a chance to have a dream job in his favourite company and move to one of the best countries in the world.
At Shopify I got to work closely with some of the best people in the tech. I often found myself being in rooms where I felt like the dumbest person. I got to learn directly from the top engineering/product executives there. Including being on many projects with the OG himself, Tobi Lütke. In my final year I was running a team focused on emerging markets, and had the good fortune of taking a 10-day business trip to India with the CEO, COO, and CPO.
Every year felt like 10 years worth of learning at Shopify. And most importantly, I got to make friends with some really talented yet kind people. Proud Shopify alumnus (and shareholder) here. 👋
Video gaming has been my primary leisure activity. These days it’s hard to carve out time, but I do play something for some time every other week. Games that I’ve particularly liked: Civilization, Hitman, Commandos, FIFA, Stardew Valley, Uncharted, and Roller Coaster Tycoon.
I still play Civilization 6 when I’m able to do multiplayer with friends. I’ve gotten into sim racing lately – F1 and Assetto Corsa. I have my own little setup in my basement. It can be a great stress-buster, and very good ‘party game’ when friends are over.
Not technically a video game (or maybe it is now?), but I also play Chess online. I did not learn Chess growing up, but I picked it up a few years ago and have gotten pretty good at it. Feel free to challenge me for a game! ♟️
I read at least one book every month. It has been much harder since having kids, but slowly getting back into the habit. I can’t skim through, or a speed read. If I like the book I’ve started I read it cover to cover. If I’m not enjoying I just shelve it.
My reading philosophy is simple: it has to be engaging enough to keep me awake. And there’s an easy way to measure it: If I’m not highlighting sentences/paragraphs often, I’m not really into it.
I read mostly on Kindle Paperwhite. Only if a Kindle version doesn’t exist, or is not well made, I’d get a paper book.
Very hard to pick favourites, but here are some:
- Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson
- Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture, by David Kushner
- Mastery, by Robert Greene
- Are Your Lights On?, by Gerald Weinberg
- Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, by Charles Petzold
- The Elements Of Computing Systems: Building A Modern Computer From First Principles, by Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan
- Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby, by Sandy Metz
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
- Sum: 40 Tales From The Afterlives by, David Eagleman
Long-form newsletters count as proper reading too! Some favourites:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. - Robert A. Heinlein
When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all of your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations; your consciousness expands in every direction; and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person than you ever dreamed yourself to be. - Patanjali
Pessimists sound smart. Optimists make money. — Nat Friedman
It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by coercion and a sense of duty. - Albert Einstein
The best CEOs are survivors and it’s really hard to survive if you have dirt in your closet or treat people differently behind closed doors than you do in public. - Unknown
Each and every one of us has been born into a given historical reality, ruled by particular norms and values, and managed by a unique economic and political system. We take this reality for granted, thinking it is natural, inevitable and immutable. We forget that our world was created by an accidental chain of events, and that history shaped not only our technology, politics and society, but also our thoughts, fears and dreams. The cold hand of the past emerges from the grave of our ancestors, grips us by the neck and directs our gaze towards a single future. We have felt that grip from the moment we were born, so we assume that it is a natural and inescapable part of who we are. Therefore we seldom try to shake ourselves free, and envision alternative futures. - Yuval Noah Harari