Pallav Nadhani is the CEO of Fusion Charts, a software suite that allows creation of interactive charts for web and enterprise applications. Pallav completed his primary schooling in Bihar before moving to Kolkata to work in his father’s web design company. After a few years he launched FusionCharts. This story showcases entrepreneurship in Kolkata, India.
Sramana: Pallav, let’s start with the beginning of your story. Tell us a bit about where you are from and what kind of background you grew up in. What is the genesis of your entrepreneurial spirit?
Pallav Nadhani: I grew up in a small town in Bihar, India, until I was 15. After my basic schooling was completed, I moved to Kolkata. My dad had moved there a few years prior to start a web design agency. When I first moved to Kolkata, I helped my dad with some of the graphics and web application design. This was back in 1998 and that was my first exposure to the web. There was a lot of activity going on in that ecosystem. I was totally interested in what the web could offer. It was a new paradigm for me since I came from such a small town.
I had a computer at my home from the time I was nine years old. I was doing a lot of programming. I started off with Basic and C++. When I saw the web, I was blown away by the interconnectedness of it all. I was amazed at what you could do with sophisticated designs. I helped my dad for about two years, and during that time I picked up a few different web technologies.
During that time I also stumbled across a site called ASPToday.com, which was published by Wrox Publication. There used to be a lot of great articles on that site. I had used Excel a lot during my school days, and I could easily differentiate between desktop applications and the web. Desktop applications were boring, while web applications had a lot of spice. I had an idea which was to change the charting of Excel to a webified interface. I wrote an article for ASPToday.com on that topic, for which I was paid $1,500. That is a lot of money for a 15-year-old. I used that cash to start my entrepreneurial endeavors.
Sramana: Bihar is not exactly one of the most technology-oriented places in India. How did you learn to program and get computer savvy in Bihar? Was it because your dad was doing it?
Pallav Nadhani: My dad made sure that I had a computer at home. He showed me what I could do with computers, and when you have one that young you really start to get a passion for it. It was an opportunity for me to let my curiosity teach me. My dad bought a lot of coding books that he used for his work, and I picked up my programming skills by reading those books. I would practice coding in my spare time. My dad was very encouraging, and without him I would not have been able to do this.