Sramana: What did your father do for a living?
Pallav Nadhani: He dabbled in a lot of things. He worked on some commercial projects such as building water treatment plants, and then he started helping companies move from paper accounting to computer accounting. He is one of the bestselling authors in India for accounting books. After that he started his web design agency.
Sramana: It sounds like your father is a very entrepreneurial individual and you grew up in an entrepreneurial environment.
Pallav Nadhani: That is definitely the case.
Sramana: Let’s fast-forward to the point where you moved to Kolkata. You were 15 and working for your father’s web design firm. What happened next?
Pallav Nadhani: I used to do a lot of design projects. The first ones were just simple websites where people wanted the ability to capture leads through their websites. We did a lot of work for import and export buyers. Those businesses realized that they needed a website and email address, but they had no idea what a website was or what an email address was. We would explain what a website and an email were and how they could be used in their businesses.
Once we did a few of those smaller clients, we picked up some larger clients. We did a few web applications. We wrote some email managers and things like that. Those are tools we can all take for granted now. Back in those days, those applications were not common as they are now. I wrote those web applications with Microsoft ASP. That is how I got hooked on dynamic applications.
A few of our more advanced clients needed fancy animation, which is when I started learning Flash. That is also around the time I ran into ASPToday.com. In an effort to provide better graphics and charts, I combined ASP and Flash technologies. After I wrote my article, I got a lot of feedback. People started contacting me wanting me to customize some aspect of the tutorial I wrote. I figured out that if so many people needed these customizations, it did not make sense for me to do a bunch of one-offs. I felt it would be better to do all of those customizations and build it into a product I could sell.
When I released the first version of the product, I had absolutely no idea how to price it. I did not even know how to do licensing. We signed up with a payment gateway and the minimum payment they would accept was $15. Since that was the minimum payment, that is what I priced the product at.
Sramana: So you learned to sell charting tools online and collect payments online from Kolkata?
Pallav Nadhani: Yes. The problem is when you are taking $15 payments, or any payment under $100, clients are not willing to send you a check if they are from the U.S. The cost of sending a check to India was higher than that. The first sale I made in which I accepted a check cost me money because the clearance of international payment was greater than the check itself.
Sramana: What year was this?
Pallav Nadhani: This was in 2001.