TheNFAPost Podcast

Bengaluru, NFAPost: In line with our publication’s vision of promoting the self-evolving startup culture in India, I took the opportunity to interview Mr. Sunit Nandi, the founder of business-email-provider startup, LETTER.

In his recent interview with us, Mr. Nandi highlighted the key objectives of his startup company, besides sharing his dreams, life goals and motives behind pursuing a career in Computer Science.

A Brief Intro on Mr. Nandi

Mr. Sunit Nandi, an ardent dreamer and designer, spent his childhood days in designing machines, assembling remote controlled vehicles and creating models for science fairs which inspired him to pursue his career in Computer Science.

As a first-gen entrepreneur, he believed in innovating and creating better opportunities to help the society thrive as a community. Consequently, he broke away from the stereotype ideologies that define an “ideal life” as scoring good grades and getting a well-paid job in the tech industry.

In 2012, he kicked off his entrepreneurial journey by launching his first e-magazine called TechnoFAQ while still studying in college. He also launched two more e-publications named Tekh Decoded and nixFAQ, before giving birth to the startup, LETTER. He always believed in sharing with the society and has ingrained this philosophy as a core value of his company.

Mr. Nandi is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in CSE at IIT Guwahati while also working as a trainee teacher at NIT Arunachal Pradesh. As a tech researcher, he has also written several academic papers related to Mutipath TCP and also organised the 2017 KDE India Conference in Guwahati.

Sunit never lost his passion for computer experiments and mechanical models, despite being bullied in his school days for his crazy experiments. His unwavering passion for science actually helped him create a life he wanted.

Excerpts From the Interview

Here are the excerpts from the interview with Mr. Nandi:

Key Objectives of the Startup, LETTER

1) What are the key objectives of business-email-provider Startup, LETTER with its focus on convenience and security?

A) Letter as an email provider has the following objectives:

  • Enforce both on-disk encryption and transport encryption for emails, so that your business secrets stays yours and yours only.
  • Allow the option to use end-to-end encryption with PGP, so that you need not trust us with your business secrets.
  • Allow you to connect with your own email client and apps, so that you are not forced to use a provider-enforced proprietary email apps.
  • Allow you to import and export your mail data with ease, so that your data stays in your full control.
  • Provide calendar, contacts and full search functionality, not available in most privacy-oriented email hosting providers.

Unique Features of Startup LETTER

2) How is your business-email service different from existing competition in the market?

A) As a privacy email provider:

  • We do not omit necessary features like calendar, contacts and search.
  • Allow you to connect using standard e-mail clients and do not force use of additional software.

As a general email provider:

  • We employ the best in-class military-grade email encryption.
    We do not lock down your data and allow importing and exporting freely.
  • Use a usage based pricing model based on number of emails that can be sent and do not bill on the number of user accounts.

Key Objectives Behind the Launch of e-magazines

3) What were the main objectives behind launching next-gen e-magazines like TechnoFAQ, Tekh Decoded and nixFAQ and what was your target audience?

A) The tech magazine scene in India is populated with mostly marketing people who are intent on selling new products to the populace. In fact, the Indian tech media scene is consumerist in nature; there are not many real techies.

My portfolio of magazines is an attempt to change this status quo and educate readers why and how science and tech works. Techno FAQ is geared for the business, marketing and enterprise audience. Tekh Decoded is geared to the general public. nixFAQ is geared to professionals working on computer and networking systems.

Dreams and Life Ambition

4) As a first-gen entrepreneur, what were your dreams and life ambition while pursuing a career in Computer Science?

A) I was always a designer and a dreamer. As a child, I spent most of my time playing with lego blocks and Mechanix sets to create model machinery of my imagination. Later on, I used to assemble remote controlled vehicles.

I also used to create models for science fairs, three notable ones are: a) windmill that generates energy to light a lightbulb, b) landscape demonstrating the water cycle, and c) a volcano.

Soon afterwards, at age 12, I came along a copy of Puppy Linux on a DVD that I installed on my father’s laptop. That piqued my interest in GNU/Linux, open source software development and servers. From then on, I was determined to pursue Computer Science, and ended up being a specialist in operating systems, computer communication and networks, and network security.

I also have interests in cryptography, algorithm optimization and data science. My goal in life is to use computing for the betterment, peace and comfort of everyone’s lives.

‘Sharing with Society’ – Key Motto of LETTER Explained

5) What was the reason you chose to adopt ‘Sharing with society’ as the sole motto or core value of your startup company, LETTER?

A) A business like Letter that develops and runs privacy-oriented services cannot afford to prioritize pure profit over customers and the society it serves in general because then it loses the very goal it is meant to serve: empower people to stay in control of their secrets.

If the business model or core value of such a company is detached from the people it is supposed to empower (see what happened to RobinHood during the GameStop stock price squeeze in the US), then it is at best a fraudulent business.

Future, Growth and Necessity of Startups like LETTER

6) How do you foresee the future, growth and necessity for a startup like LETTER in the rapidly-evolving digital age?

A) I hope to see startups like Letter become the norm as we progressively move on to the future. As more and more of our lives become digitized and intertwined with the Internet, newer startups should take privacy as one of the main goals rather than an accessory feature.

Startups like Letter must play the major role here and promote the conversation on the necessity of privacy rather than leaving it to activists and governments that cannot move as fast as the industry on the adoption of new ideas.

Digital privacy startups have an increasing scope of growth as more and more activities go online and the more people understand why privacy is important, similar to how lockers, banks, surveillance and security agencies protect our assets and privacy in the physical world.

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