Interview with Kailash Nadh, CTO - Zerodha

Building India’s largest and one of the best stockbroking platform in India – An interview with Kailash Nadh, CTO – Zerodha

Hello Everyone!

In this episode of BBL’s One to One, we’re going to interview a hobbyist. Yes, a hobbyist who’s turned his passion into a full-time occupation which not only rewarded him but also with which his team built a beautiful, scalable and India’s number one stockbroking platform. As of 2019, Zerodha has more than 100,000 users and is also in process of registering as an AMC (Asset Management Company).

This time we have Mr Kailash Nadh who’s the Chief Technology Officer at Zerodha. A side note for aspiring developers and stock market enthusiasts – you’d definitely want to read this to get some insights on what goes into making a platform that you can rely on.

Can you please introduce yourself?

Hobbyist developer for close to two decades. I head technology at Zerodha, India’s largest stockbroker, where we’ve built our stock broking stack and tech over the last 7 years.

How and when you got started? Were you confident that you’ll find success when you started? Where are you now in terms of success and statistics.

Got hooked to coding when I was in my pre-teenage, around 2000-2001. Have been coding, experimenting, and tinkering ever since.

My concept of success early on, and now, was to write software that people used and appreciated. The more, the merrier. I’ve been able to write and release software, all free, that tens of millions of uses across the world have used. That is extremely satisfying.

At Zerodha, we’ve built the largest stockbroker in India from scratch over the last 7 years and have been able to achieve amazing feats of engineering with a tiny tech team (30 member tech team in a 1200 member company). That’s beautiful and amazing to me.

While my work is now largely focused, I still actively write and distribute software as a hobby.

If you were a career counsellor, what career path would you recommend to budding web developers/ software engineers?

It’s important to try and experiment and tinker with new things. Strike the right balance between being a generalist and a specialist. The more joyful you find writing software, the higher the likelihood of success. For me, when my hobby transformed into work, I don’t know. It’s blurry, and it’s a good place to be at.

How does your daily routine look like and what do you do on weekends compared to the time when you were just starting?

I collaborate with the tech team and other teams within the company. Build, break, fix software throughout the day. Play Counter-Strike with the team in the evening.

At home, read stuff on online, read a book, listen to an audiobook, watch something, eat something nice, or mix and match any of these things. Weekends, the same, sans the office environment.

Any tip(s) for people who’re just getting started with development? Or should they even start with development or try their hands on the ‘skills of future’ (AI, Crypto, ML and so on)?

It’s important to learn the basics, the fundamental building blocks that go into building future-proof, clean, and usable software. It’s important to be a hacker first and develop an abstract way of looking at software. That enables one to quickly learn and build anything.

AI, ML etc. are not “skills”. They are concepts. Today, with a large number of out-of-the-box software available for experimenting with these concepts, a developer can reasonably easily learn the basics and start tinkering.

If you were to start from scratch today, would you still choose software development as your primary profession? And why?

Yes. Software development was never a profession for me; it still doesn’t feel like one. I enjoy it and I’m excited by it as much as I was when I first started learning to write code. I’m fortunate that my hobby also acts as my profession and makes me a living.

Like the interview? Drop-in a comment stating your questions/experiences. Thanks!

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