Friday, January 18, 2013

Completing an year at a startup



   Hi, I am back here after many many months. Had been busy with the work, tinkering and lately talks.
This is September. I have completed a year at the start-up named IntouchID ( currently Volare Technologies). Thought, it would be great to share my experience and lessons with you all.

Do what you think is right.

  Before working with IntouchID, I had a fairly stable and a secure job with amazing people working with me. But for my own reasons, I was not satisfied. I knew I am doing something wrong to myself. I had this urge of working on better technology, better team, still better products and top of all, learn more, faster. One day I found out IntouchID. It was a very early stage startup (4 people at the time of writing this blog post), rather it was a one person company, my boss. If I would join in, I would be the first employee. The job seemed insecure, unstable.

    But I was fascinated to work there. I was not ready to take risks, but thought, if not now, then when?
So the risk factor was eliminated.

Then I went to some friends who worked at moderate to absolute corporate companies. I wanted to seek advice from them. Everybody had a different say,
     'do not leave your secure job',
     'what is the guarantee that such an early stage startup can even pay you!'
     'what makes you think that such a startup will last even for an year.'
     'dont be an idiot, they dont have revenue',

They were not wrong.
Some just kept quiet, knowing that I was anyway going to do what I thought was right.

I moved ahead to take advice of some senior friends. One suggested me an important thing. His words are still in my mind.

    'Something that you will learn at a start-up in six months, you will not learn at a corporate even in a span of two years'

This advice made it's mark. I needed it, because I needed learning. I know how badly I performed at engineering. The damage was done. I badly wanted to repair it. I should not bother taking risk for the sake of learning.
So my mind was all set.

Doing doing. Learning learning.

    I was not satisfied with the way I became an engineer at PICT. It was the time, I did not clearly understand the concepts in computer science, nobody ever could succeed in bringing the 'wow' feeling in me about Computer Science. By now I had already gained all the interest in building software. This was another reason for me to join a start-up. Learning.

Startup is about building things and then measuring how it performs in public, take its review, find out what works and what does not, build again and repeat. One thing I hate here is if something does not work, you make it work, this way or that way. And when it starts working, you just dont have enough time to bother, how exactly it is working. Not all the time, but this happened with me many time. I am really sad with this approach for development. But due to lack of time and having a lot to ship, I have to do it. :(

Joy of building things

  Ever since I was a kid, I had a keen interest into building things. I used to dismantle my electronic toys and assemble them with some defunct pen-refills, paper pins, mini-motors and couple of battery and build something atop it. I still vividly remember and have a small crane that I had built out of some toy I had bought from the junk yard.

   Startups are like my childhood. Looking back at my engineering, I had an urging desire in me to go back and code in C++. Lately BlackBerry10 is due its launch in January. Thought, how about building sometime for it! I started working on IntouchApp for BB10. I worked hard, 3-4 hours at night including full weekends to finish the basic version of the app. Later my boss would also lend his hand to speed me up. That was lot of hard work.  Finally the app was submitted to Blackberry App World.

   When I took the screenshots of the app to submit it, I was so fascinated. Could not stop but stare. I emailed those screenshots to many of my close friends. I had that great feeling in me that I built it with all of my struggle, hard work and determination. A great thanks to my boss for keeping me motivated.

   The pleasure you get when you look at your creation that looks beautiful and works like a charm is priceless.

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