I am A Hardcore Geek and no not just in the technology sense of the way, I love stuff around me and can easily get geeky enough to find out more. I think I am Dangerously Funny – that is if you get my jokes, though I wanted to always try my hand at being a stand up comic – it is just not for me atlas for now. I am a Trained Chef and a Foodie – I love to eat, my size shows this. I don’t mind eating any cuisine or any type of food – if I don’t know about it – I need company to tell me about it. I experiment with food and whenever I get a chance, I cook too. I was born in a Sikh Family, and this makes me a Sikh by Birth. I believe it is a wonderful faith, and needs to spread to more and more people.
A Wannabe Sufi – I am exploring this side of things – I am in love with God and everything God has created. At the end of it, I am an Entrepreneur by Choice – I run several companies, like to get my hands dirty and stand out from the crowd.
I have written for News Papers Such as The Indian Express, The Outlook Business Magazine, Hosted India’s First Technology Radio Show for Radio Mirchi, Hindustan Times, First Post and the Open Magazine.
As of May 2016 – I am not contributing to any publication – more about this, some day!
I believe, I am a blessed person, born in a wonderful family of people who were highly educated, spiritual and also love living their life. My Grandparents (both on my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s side of the family) came from Pakistan and in 1947 settled in Delhi. My Paternal side of the family established a business trading cloth, and then eventually trading machinery, while my Maternal side of the family was full of professionals who worked for the government and large companies.
I spent my early years in Delhi and when I was 2, moved to Canada for a couple of years, My Mom was one of the first few Women Astrophysics post graduates from India and she was spending time finishing her Doctorate and doing some research at NASA. I grew up around machines, I used my first microwave oven when I was 3 [imagine this was 1975] and was responsible to take care of my one year old kid brother. I have 2 siblings, a younger brother and a Sister, and by my early years in life, clearly knew what I wanted to do.
I had two passions, technology and food, spirituality is something I believe I am evolving in, my grandfather (dada ji) used to read prayers every day from the Guru Granth Sahib and we all went to the Gurudwara nearly every morning, my paternal grandfather (nanaji) was on his own spiritual journey eventually to become a guru in his own right… I am still finding my spirituality, all I know is, I am a wannabe sufi – I believe god loves us, and I love god, and god is present in all of us.. I don’t mind going to a temple, to a mosque, to a church or a gurudwara, but I believe god resides in people, in things around us.
I was 11 when I cofounded my first company with my mother for legal reasons, I spent time between school (Delhi Public School, Mathura Road) and office and write my first bit of code which I sold when I was 13, we called this Pilot Engineers, but in my heart I wanted to be a Chef and trained for that.
I graduated from DY Patil College of Engineering, Pune in 1994 and missed not becoming a full time chef, came back to re-establish my business and renamed it to System3. If one goes by History, System3 was one of the first few companies (and now the only surviving) in 1995 that wanted to offer Internet services to India. In August 1995 I was one of the key people involved in the launch of GIAS (Gateway Internet Access Service) with VSNL and by 1996 we started offering web hosting, web site building, email services and web services as our major source of revenue.
The 1999-2000 dot com bust drove us bankrupt, it was for some customers who would not pay us in time and for hiring too many people, Harpreet my better half came in to help me out financially and get the mess sorted out, I asked her to Marry me in May of 2000 only to be declined and then asked again about a 100 times, till she said Yes in August of 2000, by December we were Wed.
By now we already had our data centre up and running in India and we were on our growth path, we decided not to have children and adopt as we go along or work with people who needed help, only in 2009 becoming a Rotarian and spending more and more time with upliftment of people. I am headed to become the President of My Rotary Club in July of 2015
Harpreet and I are both Rotarians and spend our time between running our couple of companies (more about this later), travelling, eating, writing (she writes for the Mid-Day Mumbai since 2014 March). We have both seen a number of up and downs, shutting a few startups we started, realising mistakes, and loosing out to our government at times.. but we believe by running our enterprises we offer a chance for people to come in and work and create things, we create jobs in all our companies so that there are more and more young people who can work for making this country a brilliant place, yes at times we want to run away from it all but we know our responsibilities.
Amongst the Companies that Harpreet and I run right now are
System 3 Net Technologies Pvt. Ltd.: This is our Data centre operation, we are a boutique data centre in India and offer Shared Hosting to Colocation to our customers. Our customers come from leading industries across the globe and choose us for our dedication to our work.
System 3 Net Managed Services Pvt. Ltd.: Our Managed Services division helps our customers ensure their IT is working whether deployed on the cloud or on premise, our team of engineers not only work 24×7 to help our customers make sure their technology infrastructure is the best in their class, but also always available.
Cyber Butlers: A small startup in our kitty, works in the Digital marketing domain helping Artists, Fashion Designers, Hospitality Companies and a few others to sell their goods and services online. We help them do Social Media Strategy, Application development both for the Mobile space as well as the computing space, to helping them run their loyalty programs and their e-commerce websites.
Love 4 Apple: Our Love 4 Apple is pretty evident, both of us love what Apple creates, and we make the coolest accessories. We manufacture Apple iPhone cases in India and distribute some of the best accessories from across the Globe. We are small, but work with a brilliant set of artists who help us make some wonderful artist series cases. I also use some of my design skills that I picked up when I worked for my dad’s publishing firm and my dad’s printing business, to my photograph’s that I take often.
I have recently also started Sprout Box with Rajeev ji and we are getting busy with our first location in Gurgaon to start later in May 2015. Sprout Box is a co-workign space and incubator, we are trying to create a difference in how the startup ecosystem works and grows in India. Both of us have been startup guys for a very long time and it’s taking our 20 year old friendship to the next level.
There are a couple of more interesting things that we are working on.. and you should be hearing of these soon…
Some Trivia: Did you know I started India’s First Online Magazine – We did not call them Blogs back then, it was Called Etcetra, this was back in 1996. Did you also know that I was the first e-commerce Player in India with a Portal called AapkaBazaar – We started in 1996, and shut it down in 1997, the only order that we ever got in that time was from my mother who ordered a loaf of bread – India was not ready for payments, and we were not designed for taking cash on delivery.. another idea too early on in life. Also because we were setting up AapkaBazaar we ended up buying the First Digital Camera in India, the Sony Mavica MVC-FD5, and I still have it. … Over the years I have done business, I have sold of some successful companies and closed some unsuccessful ventures, in no particular order these have been System 3 Secure, Design Factory and AapkaBazaar.