Settle in to Utrecht84%
Draw the big picture36%
After you graduate from a Dutch university, you get a one-year orientation year visa to find a job or set up a business. Sukriti and I moved to the Netherlands in 2021 after spending a year in India during the pandemic, so the clock started ticking for my visa. Since Pabio was already fully operational at this point as a Swiss company (owned by an American company), I decided to set up a Dutch subsidiary and apply for a startup visa to keep my residency here.
Make big changes50%
Stronger health after recharging27%
Work towards a strong mind17%
Work towards a strong body49%
- Theme for 2023
I want to improve my relationships with my work, myself, and my surroundings in my Year of Relationships: I want a healthy relationship with my work. I want to continue to work hard on my company. 2022 was my highest productivity year yet, and I don’t want that to change in 2023, while taking enough time off and maintaining a healthy balance. I also want to plan better and spend time in structured thinking. Secondly, I want a strong relationship with my body & min
I turned 25 today and like years past, I wanted to reflect on this past year and plan my theme for 2023. 2022 was a great year for me, and I’m excited to see what 2023 has in store. The Theme System
In the previous year’s post, 2022 will be the Year of Teamwork, I described the Theme System and how my yearly theme guides me in makin
Continue working on health goals38%
Stop procrastinating on growth41%
Get ready for 202343%
Improve physical and mental health50%
Get engaged to be married60%
Start planning for the long term40%
Accelerate body and mind progress47%
Invest in support system40%
Work harder and smarter27%
Keep body and mind on track49%
Set up for a great 202235%
Manage money better100%
- Theme for 2022
Year of Teamwork stems from some of the issues I've been facing lately with delegation. Reflecting on my calendar in the past few months, I see that I've already started spending significantly more time on code review and planning than actually writing code than I used to this time last year, but it's not nearly enough. I still spend the majority of my time as an individual contributor, which is scaling very poorly.
I turn 24 today and I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my themes from the past two years, and plan my theme for 2022. Themes are malleable
The theme system was popularized by CGP Gray in the Cortex podcast with Myke Hurley of Relay FM. I’ve been using it for the past few years as alternate to Ne
This is a response to 1,000 companies per Y Combinator batch? RIP Y Combinator by Haje Jan Kamps, published on TechCrunch on December 10, 2021. Ever since I found out about Y Combinator, I wanted to be a part of it.[^when-yc] I always thought of myself as a hacker/builder/entrepreneur/(insert word here) because I’ve always been good at going from idea to product really quickly.
Start getting healthy83%
Get back to work43%
Get ready for 202267%
Became a Y Combinator alum
Pabio was part of Y Combinator’s S21 batch, being one of the first Swiss companies to be funded by YC. I was the third ever from my university to be part of YC and we raised a $2.2 million seed round after the batch.
Moved to Groningen, the Netherlands
- Theme for 2021
I didn't write a blog post about my theme in 2021, but here's an excerpt from my blog post 2022 will be the Year of Teamwork which summarizes my thinking behind this theme: My theme for 2021 was Year of Commitment. In a post-pandemic world, I decided to double down on long-term goals (work, health, and personal life), and after living in India for most of the year, I wanted to move back to the Netherlands -- but not alone this time. In the last quarter of
Graduated from University of Twente
Earned a BSc degree in Creative Technology, an interdisciplinary engineering and design program from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, with specialization in smart technology and extra credits (Honors program in Science). My bachelor thesis on Email-based Intelligent Virtual Assistants under Dr. J. Zwiers was graded 9/10 and nominated for the Bachelor Award.
Pabio offers rent-to-own furniture with personalized interior design. Carlo Badini and I co-founded Pabio after getting to know each other over a period of a few months remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you read major American newspapers such as Forbes or the Los Angeles Times, chances are you’ve already read a story entirely written by an AI-powered software system. This process is known as automated journalism, and highlights an important question about authorship: Who is the author of an article written by a virtual agent?. A 2005 study found that research participants attribute story credit to the programmers who developed the AI or the news organization publishing the story.
This was a sidenote for another note I’ve been thinking about, but I think it deserves its own post. Today (mid 2020), Microsoft is the world’s most important, influential, and exciting company in the open-source ecosystem. Once considered evil[^1], Microsoft under Nadella has not only embraced open-source, but pushed it more forward than any other Big Tech company[^2]. If I had to choose between working at any of the FAANG/Big Four/etc., it has to be Microsoft.
- Theme for 2020
I didn't write a blog post about my theme in 2020, but here's an excerpt from my blog post 2022 will be the Year of Teamwork which summarizes my thinking behind this theme: 2020 was my Year of Long Term. I had just come back after living for a short while in the San Francisco Bay Area (after an exchange semester at Santa Clara University) and I knew that I'd be graduating from the University of Twente in 2020, so I had to decide where to fo
Studied at Santa Clara University
I was the first student in my program to study for a semester at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley as part of the Global Engineering Education Exchange (Global E3). I was a recipient of the Twente Mobility Fund Scholarship and my coursework consisted of computer graphics, venture capital, marketing, and typography.
When you’re advertising your smartphone app, perhaps the first thing you show off are platform badges. They’re the easiest and most familiar way to tell users where they can find your app. All major platforms, Apple’s App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft Store have official badges which are somewhat consistent with each other. However, these badges aren’t that consistent.
This is the second year of my annual State of the Podcasts list, where I highlight my daily drivers of audio content. This time last year, I published State of the Podcasts 2018, and not too much has changed. Let’s see what has. New and noteworthy
These are the podcasts I’ve started listening to in the past year. Made by Ratik Sharma (who is my good friend, full disclosure), Unbox is the 🏆 Best New Podcast of 2019.
11 months ago, we launched Agastya 3, with the promise of a privacy-first accessibility widget. Today, we bring the next major version of Agastya with a focus on user customization, along with an entirely new app. Like the last update, Agastya 4 is currently available to our Pro 1M customers, and will be available to everyone this summer. The Road to Agastya 4
The first version of Agastya was launched in 2016 when Nishant, Mahendra, and I founded Oswald Labs (we called it Oswald
The first quarter of 2019 was very interesting for me. It was the first time I did a lot of open-source work as a way to scratch my own itch. Every time I thought I needed a specific tool which I couldn’t find, I built and open-sourced it. Background
The number of contributions I’ve made on GitHub has increased by over 20x in the past few years.
In 2015, I made slightly more than 100 contributions. These were mostly on my own projects, like my personal website, Made with Love in Indi
Matt Turnbull has a great article titled Why Are You Still Using Yarn in 2018? which makes the argument that newer versions of NPM are just as fast as Yarn and switching to NPM might actually have some benefits (I’m still a Yarn user). Furthermore, it’s getting complicated to maintain documentations and say: To install this package, use npm install package or yarn add package, etc.
I think Twitter should have a concept of sub-accounts. It’s not smart to create a Twitter account for every small project, but it’s often a necessity for support or a social media presence. In my case, I have a Twitter account, and so does Oswald Labs (which makes complete sense since it’s a company and I’m just a small part of it). However, I also have several other projects, like Made with Love in India, a platform to showcase Indian-made startups, which has its own Twitter account.
When I first started using Google Docs, my favorite feature was “smart” autosaving. “Smart” because it’s not just an interval, but also based on content changes. Today, almost all popular web-based text editors have both autosaving (WordPress, Medium, etc.) and rich text formatting (think [f]CKEditor and TinyMCE a decade ago). The question is — how can I combine the rich text and autosaving aspects with git’s version control, so I can smartly save only the changes to a file and easily go back.
Two months after writing State of the Podcasts, where I talked about my go-to podcasts in 2018, this post is about the apps that find their home on my laptop’s dock. These apps are those I use most often and make me much more productive. I switched from a Firefox/Opera combination to Chrome as my primary web browser when it was released in late 2008 because it was fast and secure. Today, I use Chrome because it’s still standards-compliant and I’m very deep into the Google ecosystem.
Read aloud was one of Agastya’s signature features when it first launched, and our beta partners like Nayee Disha — a collaboration between the UNDP and large corporates to skill and employ women in rural India — extensively made use of it. It was the easiest way to have a blind- and illiterate-friendly mode which automatically reads aloud the content of a webpage.
Since we launched Agastya in late 2016, we’ve come a long way. Today, we’re announcing the biggest update to our end-to-end web accessibility platform. This update is currently available only to our Pro 1M customers, and will be available to everyone this summer. Privacy-first
With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation last month, people are familiar with getting tens of emails with updated pri
I started really consuming audio content in the form of podcasts and audiobooks about two years ago, and I’m very often asked what podcasts I listen to. This is the first list in a series of reviews about my daily drivers of content, services, and products. I first started heavily listening to podcasts when I joined the gym (that didn’t last) for about half a year.
Moved to Enschede, the Netherlands
As a future creative technology student at the University of Twente, I wanted to get in touch with a particular professor. Their website, PeoplePages, uses a RESTful API for AJAX requests to search for university staff, so I decided to add everyone to my contacts using API scraping to save time in the future. I did a query to find all results starting with the letter “a” and got a minified JSON response with all data. Fortunately, they have unrestricted access to their endpoints. This is wha
I took fifteen minutes to make some strategic design changes to Zomato’s Android app. I wrote extensively about the iconography, typography, and role of actions in the app’s user experience. I wrote this article originally in March 2016 for the Zomato Android team and publicly published it on Medium in April 2017 since Zomato decided to implement most of my design changes.
Just a little bit of background about my college “situation”. How I went from design school in India to back to New Delhi to the University of Twente in the Netherlands. I wrote this post in March 2017 and updated it in December 2017. I graduated from highschool in April 2016 and joined the Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID) in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, after working at the Government of Delhi for a month.
A few days ago, I tried to reset my password on PR.com, the press releases website. I entered my email, and they sent me the username and password in plain text. That’s right, in plain text. The problem with this method of password storage is that if anyone gets access to your database, they can literally just see the passwords. This is why hashing is used, which converts the plain text password to an encrypted “hashed” version that is, in an ideal world, undecryptable.
At Oswald Foundation, we’re currently building a user interface for the blind, a smartphone UI that works entirely on vibrational and speech feedback. While reengineering the Phone app, the app you use to make calls, we decided to incorporate some machine learning. If you call your Doctor in the morning every day and your parents in the evening on weekends, the app should be able to analyse that pattern and pre-populate the list of contacts relevant to the current time and location.
Co-founded Oswald Labs
Oswald Labs is an accessibility technology company that builds products for people with disabilities, like blind-friendly smartphone and dyslexia-friendly reading apps.
Finished high school
Graduated from The Mother’s International School while receiving the Dharamveer Gajra Memorial Award for Positive Work in the Field of Information Technology and the Ratan Lal Lahoti Memorial Award for Topper in English (98%, CBSE SSCE). I was also President of MINET (technology Club), and a member of Impulse (physics club), Navchetna (yearbook editorial board), and MISMUN (Model United Nations).
When I posted Study, but with a Difference two years back, my friends and I had an incredible idea that was going to change the way students think of education in India. We wanted to create a platform where students and teachers can find each other. We soon moved to a platform where students can access good-quality study material for free. I am about to take my 12th grade board examinations next week, so over the past few weeks, I have been re-thinking the Class Rebels business model.
Music has always been an integral part of our lives. Ever since people started using the internet, they’ve been downloading music and movies. The process became relatively simple with the introduction of Napster in 1999, which led to the development of many such tools. I remember growing up with Limewire and Bearshare. After the discontinuation of these services in after ten long years, downloading music became really complicated again.
Became an adult
What is probably India’s most-used music streaming service, Gaana (“song” in Hindi), launched a new advertising campaign this month. It was very well executed with a great music video, beautiful typography and useful app demos at the end. Campaigns like these add to the brand value of a company — people see themselves dancing to songs on Gaana. But what’s missing here? What is the first thing users see when they download the app?
Pinkberry, a popular frozen yogurt chain, has spurred countless imitators with “berry”-studded names, so when a yogurt chain approached Alexandra Watkins, the chief innovation officer of Eat My Words, a San Francisco-based company that names brands, she wanted to help them find a really distinctive name. They ended up calling the company Spoon Me, and the name was such a hit that t-shirts and bumper stickers bearing the new brand name were flying out of the floor.
John McWade asks a very interesting question in his article How simple is too simple? He says:
Whose logo is this? How long would it take to draw? Let’s say 10 seconds in InDesign to make the rectangle and 10 minutes to get the width just right. How much do you bill per hour? To make it easy, let’s say $90. By that reckoning, this is a $15 logo. Not only that, but the yellow border is not the designer’s creation; it’s been the trademark of the client, National Geographic magazine, for
Early typewriters used monospaced fonts, meaning that the spaces between letters were always the same length, and so, typists started using two spaces to slightly widen the space between sentences. Now that the fonts on your computer are are proportionally spaced, this practice is outdated; it creates unnecessary inconvenience for the writer. To help guide the reader, it is best to use two spaces after a period ending a sentence in this situation.
I had my hands-on a magnificent device this week — a remote. But this isn’t just any remote, it’s one of the most beautiful devices I’ve ever held in my hand. It’s the Apple Remote. When the Apple TV debuted back in 2007, it really had a new vision for televisions. Even with the original Apple TV, you could rent high-def movies or purchase TV shows, music and videos from the iTunes Store, with the addition of YouTube videos.
A Silicon Valley startup was founded in 2003 with an aim to develop an advanced operating system for digital cameras. Considering that the camera market wasn’t large-enough, they started work on a mobile OS, and were acquired by Google two years later. Currently, they have over a billion active monthly users, which has doubled from 538 million in mid-2013.
There were only two companies in this world that I truly adored for their great products—Apple and Google. I was also always a fan of the innovations at Microsoft, but they never really rocked my world. Until now. When the iOS 5 came out, I was honestly mesmerized. It was the best, made even better, and I’m still a huge fan of Scott Forstall (I was rather unhappy when Apple let him go, but I believe Tim Cook made an informed decision.)
“A substandard education will always result in a substandard nation.” — Aubrey Priest
Unlike all stories, ClassRebels didn’t start with the simple idea of making teachers and students connect in a way they’ve never connected before. It started with an idea to bring about a reform, a change, and a revolution. In India, this change was long needed. The society is evolving, and our education system needs to catch up. We believe that the whole idea of education is taken i
Co-founded Class Rebels
Class Rebels is an ed-tech startup I co-founded with Kunj Khurana and Sagar Chandna which built a social education platform and collaborative virtual library.
Disclaimer: I wrote this article for the Fleksy Blog and they provided me with the premium version of the app, which, for the record, is worth the $3.99. A couple of days ago, one of my friends asked me to try out a new keyboard called Fleksy. I had never heard its name before, but since he was so excited about it, I decided to give it a try. Soon, I installed it on my phone. And then, my whole tying experience changed. But before I get into that, I’ll let you know that I was using Swype.
Design is the art of expressing thoughts. It is a freehand manifestation of vision. It is the draftsman’s job to use lab instruments to reflect that vision into precision. The purpose of design is to understand how best we can absorb natural elements spread all around us. Lack of knowledge creates too many complexities around us. Outside wisdom is unlikely to remove these intricacies. It is from the study of the self, through concentration and practice, emerges design. To
I recently participated in an event where I was required to redesign Internet.org’s homepage and logo. The content had to remain the same, but the design was to be completely new. The website was required to be responsive, and good in code-quality and aesthetics, without the use of any external code. The logo was marked for creativity and execution. Here’s what I co-designed with Akshat Srivastava in five hours. And why. The relationship between form and purpose—How and Why— is symbiotic.
We’re a group of products and organizations which were proudly created in India. You see this meticulously made handicraft item which would be the perfect addition to brighten up any living room. You pick it up, admiring the attention to detail when suddenly you spot the ‘Made in India’ label at the bottom, instantly making the product you were admiring seconds ago feel as cheap as dirt. Why is it that a ‘Made in Italy’ label makes people feel as if the product had been made in heaven itself?
‘Reality control,’ they called it—in Newspeak, ‘doublethink.’
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” Maybe Orwell was right, just a few decades wrong. One of the beliefs, the internet is free, and one of them, the United States Government controls the internet. It’s happening, and it’s happening now! I’ve figured it all out—it’s all about power—and information is power.
The ‘WWW’ subdomain is deprecated. There. I said it. Let me put it this way — When you type google.com in your web browser, you get redirected to http://www.google.com, right? But is that necessary? Do we really need to prove our world-wide web presence by adding a WWW subdomain? I don’t think so. Let us first recall the definition of WWW:
World Wide Web — n. Abb
Became a vegetarian
On my thirteenth birthday, I became a vegetarian.