An Angel From The City of Joy — Pallav Nadhani #JeenaIsiKaNaamHain
The time we live in celebrates youth because of the energy that we usually associate with young people. I would like to use the word “youth” to signify a certain state of mind — vibrant — and it can be found in slightly older people as well. You look at such a person and instantaneously what comes to mind is a force that can move things or get things done.
I met Pallav Nadhani, a 22-year-old product entrepreneur from Kolkata, in 2007. Back then, the city did not host too many product guys and he struck me as an aberration — of course, in a very positive way. He was young and highly energetic — nothing extraordinary about that you’d say. Status quo. Sure, but the difference was about his ability to think out-of-the-box and build a product — FusionCharts — right there in Kolkata which back then didn’t have a supporting eco-system. Anybody who has dabbled in products even a wee bit will tell you the extreme significance of eco-system support.
Be that as it may, that didn’t impede his company’s growth at all. On the contrary, it boasted of 2000-odd loyal customers who swore by the product and the company was set on a path that promised a great pivot. Highly impressed, I went back to NASSCOM and evangelized in my own way — their product. And we started on what was to become a great friendship.
Initially, it was through e-mails and the phone, that we got in touch, and it soon became in-person meetings as well. He was like a sponge, ready to absorb every bit of information that came his way and strikingly enough, he was prepared to travel at a moment’s notice to other cities to attend conferences and workshops. I remember he was among the most enthusiastic participants when Dr Anand Deshpande conducted a workshop on “Crossing the 50 Crore Chasm”. He was also a mentee at the NASSCOM Mentorship program and every month he would fly down to Delhi and spend a day with our mentors. He was extremely smart, highly energetic and grasped everything that came about his way.
In a few years, he would move to Bangalore, and it made perfect sense now that he was well-poised for higher growth. The years went by, he also got married and we kept in constant touch. In those years, he would contribute immensely to the NASSCOM Product Conclave. Thereafter in 2012, I started my journey with iSPIRT and our paths would cross again. He had undergone a transformation. In our world, the words digital transformation are cliched but I can tell you when humans truly transform, it can be amazing. Pallav had become an incredibly polished individual — perhaps now that he was a little older — and he had some of the toughest questions reserved for us which flummoxed many seasoned product practitioners. Once again, he displayed his love for travel and was a part of many roundtables all over the country. He was extremely generous in sharing his learnings and never shied away from prodding people to think.
I have spoken about DPC (#DaruPeCharcha) a few times earlier in this column. Well, we’ve had these charchas at his residence in Bangalore and I cannot tell you enough about what a wonderful host he is. While alcohol may have been an enabler, but Pallav’s persistence — particularly at 2 AM — in asking the right questions has always opened up a whole new line of thinking. His was a bootstrapped company so for many years he ran a tight ship and learnt all about cost leadership from ground up. That’s why he understands what pain is when he sees it and goes out of his way to truly be an Angel to so many founders. The number of people that he has helped over the years only speaks volumes of his generosity.
The startup ecosystem in India owes a huge lot to Pallav Nadhani and his contribution is right up there. He has built a great product, has continued to learn and share all his learnings along the way. Most importantly, he makes you feel very light which is about who he is — a very generous human being who is forever willing to help people and travel great distances at a moment’s notice.
I know he is preparing for the next big leap. So Pallav here’s wishing you great health and happiness. I will always cherish the time that I have spent with you.