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Paras Chopra is the founder and CEO of Wingify, a company that builds web analytics and optimization technology to include its flagship product Visual Website Optimizer. Prior to Wingify, he was an R&D engineer at Aspiring Minds. He has also founded Kroomsa which is a website to help Indian bands promote their music on the web. Prior to founding Kroomsa he was an Analyst at Grail Research. He has a BE in biotechnology from the Delhi College of Engineering.
Sramana: Paras, let’s start with the very beginning of your story. Where were you born and what are your family circumstances? What leads up to the Wingify story?
Paras Chopra: I was born in Punjab. I have been very lucky to have very forward-looking parents. I was introduced to computers very early on. I got access to a computer in my eighth standard year of school. My father had been playing with computers for a long time. He has an agriculture and biochemistry background, but he needed to use computers to conduct his work. He had a computer back when a 200Mhz computer was best in class!
I got hooked on programming instead of the usual things teenagers do. I would rather program than play games. What got me hooked was Basic 6.0. It was a very simple language. I could design entire programs using drag and drop features. I could drag buttons and text boxes, and then I could link the logic using an easy-to-follow language. It was pretty fun being a 13-year-old who could write workable programs used by other people. That was the genesis of where I am today.
Sramana: Did you go to college?
Paras Chopra: I started programming in school during my 9th standard. I stumbled across a topic on artificial intelligence, and I got very interested in neural networks. I would spend all of my evenings and afternoons implementing neural networks in Visual Basic. I started doing more complex tasks in Visual Basic, so I started to learn Python. By the time I completed high school, I considered myself an expert in programming. Looking back, I think I was very naïve! When it came time to choose my major I decided to focus on biotechnology.
Sramana: Where did you go to college?
Paras Chopra: I went to the Delhi College of Engineering. It is one of the premier colleges in India. My parents were against my idea of studying biotechnology. They really wanted me to go into computers. It ended up being a very good decision for me as well. I learned an entirely different field. I did not know anything about our bodies, DNA and genes. It gave me a very different perspective than I would have had if I had just gone into computers. That has given me a unique perspective to my work and to life in general.