Nilesh is the quintessential geek one will come across. He took his passion for playing computer games to making them at an early age. Built his first website when he was in 9th Standard to starting up a Web Hosting business pretty early, Nilesh was always ahead of his times.
He landed his first freelancing gig (which he still works on) through his articles on Linux for you magazine when the CTO of the company liked his articles and asked his HR team to approach Nilesh.
Read Nilesh’s inspiring story on this blog below:
Tell us about yourself? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?
I’m originally from Pune. My dad is an engineer (retired for the last few years) & Mom is a doctor. I had a good childhood with my schooling from CBSE and Computer Engineering from Pune University years later.
I used to read ThinkDigit magazines a lot when I was a child or whatever they used to be called from my school library and programming books. The librarian had become a good friend of mine so he used to let me take Linux For You and ThinkDigit magazines to home for reading
You started programming at an early age. What was the trigger? And at that time did you feel you will be doing this all your life?
Since childhood, I used to like computer games. Later, dad introduced me to GW-Basic or something similar which I don’t remember now.
Then in around Class 8th or so I joined a C programming course at SEED Infotech during summer vacations because I wanted to build games myself.
Programming and computers then became a sort of a hobby when I was in school which eventually became my profession.
I guess the inclination from a very early age made it a natural choice.
What was the trigger for a side hustle of selling a website hosting business? What objectives did it solve and do you think you made the right choices back then?
In the 9th standard, I wanted to make a website (inspired by some dotcom supplement of ThinkDigit). Those days you used to have those free web hosting sites which would let you upload PHP/HTML files and tada you’d have a working website.
But it used to serve lots of ads along with your content, later I got a TATA Indicom broadband of 128 kbps which gave a free static IP, so I bought a domain and started a blog that used to run off my P3 500 Mhz – this taught me Linux admin stuff.
In 10th standard summer vacations, I did my RHCE but did not certify because it was too early for me to do so and it was expensive
When I was in college I used to do server management for a website called techie-buzz.com but the owner decided to shut it down, then I started the web hosting business since I knew how to configure servers for performance, etc. The whole point of the biz was centered around performance, at that time you had web hosting companies selling Cpanel solutions which weren’t great on performance, you would run out of resources very quickly, your website would become extremely slow.
I got customers from social media and did business for about 3 years before shutting it down at a negligible loss because we (this venture was set up along with an Indian-but-lives-in-Canada friend) had been promising in house control panels to our customers which we couldn’t provide due to time constraints.
How did writing happen? And what objectives did writing solve for you?
As I mentioned earlier, I used to run a tech blog, that brought out the writer in me.
Then one fine day, I discovered I could write for Linux For You magazine so I submitted a few articles to them and they got published. I did as a hobby and had no monetary objectives from it.
Actually writing for LFY helped me land my first job without an engineering degree :). The then CTO at the org used to be an avid reader of the magazine, he read my article and asked HR to contact me.
I completed my engineering while working at the same organization (and I still work there). The company is Wifi-Soft Solutions Pvt Ltd.
All this while you were doing so many things and this is not the general path children in India take, how was the support from your family?
My friend circle hasn’t been very good since my childhood days. When we migrated home to a different place (within Pune itself), I lost all my childhood friends so that pushed me more towards computers since that’s what I used to do in my free time. My parents had supported me a lot all this while.
Tell us more about your freelance journey. Are you doing freelancing from the start or did you do some job as well? If you did a job. Why did you move to freelance?
My first freelance job was when I was not even in the 10th standard – it was for server management if I recall correctly. Then another freelance job for server setup & management when I was in college.
In 2017 I wanted to quit Wifi-Soft to join a CDN startup, but I decided to work at both because it puts me a better financial position and I get to do interesting things – so sort of a freelancer. I do take up random small projects (development, server admin, etc) once a while.
What according to you is the best or worst thing about freelancing?
Best thing: Freedom to work on anything and everything, easier to make money since you have multiple sources of income
Worst thing: It’s not easy to extract payment from clients – I have had to chase my web hosting customers for payments a lot.
Additionally, freelance platforms are generally hostile towards people who do not have a premium account and it’s hard to win jobs from there – most of my freelance jobs have been through contacts and social media.
What are your mission and vision? How do you want history to look at you?
It’s a fad to migrate out of India – I have decided never to migrate out and do something for my home country.
I am generally not running after fame but if something comes my way that gives fame I’d accept it 🙂 (wrt history)
As you look back, do you feel satisfied with yourself or do you think you missed something?
I have very few people whom I can call true friends. Probably missed that in childhood/college days
Isolation is a part of a freelancer’s job. It is important that we address it and work towards solving it. Read this blog to know more