Startups : Business people are overrated.

This might seem completely out of line but I have observed series of events in the Indian Start-up ecosystem which has led me to believe that the business people are overrated. Yes, good business skills are a must if you are looking to scale a venture, for that you need people who are business minded. But if the product is not of premium quality it is very hard for any guy to scale it infinitely. Now if we look at some of the awesome products out there and see the faces that are associated – almost all business people.

Now this might seem totally right, the business people are the ones who go out and sell!!, while the techies stay home and try to reduce the efforts these people have to made. But this causes a paradigm shift – Good people in Tech try to shift to do business. Unlike the valley where the tech guys control and run the company, we here in India tend to find people who can sell, give them quite majority stake; instead of focusing on making something out of the league. This has to change people who developed the technology should be given the credit and appreciation instead of business guys. Now we do have some platforms which do help recognize such innovative geniuses but they under perform. Required is recognition and restoration of faith in technology in Indian context (Instagram deal may inspire few but a lot of them realize it happened in valley)

Another consequence of this is that a lot of non-techy people come out and start building companies which are not backed by strong products. If we look back in the past, it is clearly evident that it has been some breakthrough technology that backed the rise of a great company – be it Apple, Google, Facebook or be it Salesforce, Tesla or Nest. Now if we don’t learn from the past, we clearly lack good people in business. These poorly built products flood the market and because of which users suffer (in turn it affects the ecosystem too, investors doubt more when there have been failure(s) in the past). Take the example of the multitude of e-commerce sites in India (last count I got was 120+), very few of them did bring some innovation or built a user focused product. Lenskart is a good example – it is using the technology to *really* make buying lenses and spectacles peaceful.

Technology is going to be the fuel to make awesome companies. The sooner people realize it and start utilizing technology to make some amazing products, sooner we will have companies like Apple and Tesla.

How is it like working in a Startup

We all have been listening of the buzz about startups. There is sexiness and glamour associated with owning a startup – you get to be published in one or many of those tabloids covering the startup ecosystem. All of a sudden from the college dropout you become a celebrity. Everyone in the college starts recognizing you :P.

Well it may look good from outside but its amazing inside. Working in the startup is one of the best work experiences you can get in your life and if it is your first job, trust me you are not leaving this space. Startup is an amazing workplace where “You” are recognised no matter how small or a big a task you are responsible for. It is like a family. So what is really like to work in a startup (not for a startup)

1. You are responsible for the work you take up. It is very unlikely that you will be assigned some work with a timeline and you have to report every night before you leave the task in an excel sheet. It is you who is responsible for the task and in turn the progress of the company.

2. You are not there to do just one kind of work. Of all the things, work at startup is not at all repetitive or boring. You will be faced with new challenges every hour, new kind of tasks everyday and maybe new title every month. You are not supposed to posses just one skill set (even if you have one, you have to do a lot of many other tasks).

3. You will learn a lot of things everyday. You are programmer, you are kind of introvert and don’t like to talk to a lot many people, love your mac and build new things everyday. You are supposed to do all of that but in addition now you have to build teams, recruit people, inspire them, motivate them, conduct workshops, visit meetups to get more talent –  designers, coders, writers everyone. Apart from that help them all in the challenges they face while learning all this skills. You have to leave your comfort zone and get into everyones shoes.

4. You get gadgets. Well if the startup you work in, if it has raised funding or is making enough profits (which is highly unlikely) you get to have all the fancy gadgets you want. Be it 24” screens (or maybe even 27”), macbook pro retina, NVIDIA G670 powered desktop, anything. Some will even let you design & build your own workspace.

5. You get to meet insane people. I always feel this, people in startups are insane. I have never ever seen the kind of energy and enthusiasm anywhere else. They will go on working for hours and hours – discussing, debating, fighting, coding, designing with the same ultrahigh energy level. Sometimes you may experience burns from the energy. Never try to get in a role conflict with an insane startup guy, more on this later.

6. You network with people from all walks of lifeYou will meet so many people, each one of them skilled and passionate about the work he/she is doing. You get to learn a lot from them. You make contacts which lasts long (some go for lifetime). You chat, you break bread together, you learn from their experiences, share yours. Life takes up new colors everyday and you wont realise how many different things and subjects you have learned. You will develop new hobbies, interests and maybe profession.

Overall startup is a place which will color up the blank/monotonous canvas of your life with all the possible shades present in a rainbow. It can be tough to realise all these colors and sometimes even harder to accept all of them at once. You will learn, learn to adapt and evolve. If you haven’t yet worked in startup, take a chance and work in one.

Why I didn’t dropped out

Ok so, first of all why at all a thought of dropping out of college? Why Do I or why I did thought about ditching the degree of which millions aspire every year and is awarded to select few. This degree which holds lots of value and anywhere I go with this degree, I would have a more than decent level of respect and admiration for. I’m doing my undergraduation in Civil Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay – Ranked no 1 in India and ~30 in World.

Well this all is one of the reason, leaving all these pride factors and convincing the stereotypical society is not easy. This is not a huge reason, if I’m asked to give weight to this reason I would say 1/100. I really don’t care about the stereotypes that exists in this society.

I don’t like Civil Engineering and after studying it for 3 years I have “NO Idea” what it is like to be a civil engineer. This kills me. I’m wasting this very precious time of my young life where I can build companies, generate employment and add a lot of value to the society instead of drawing BMDs. I love doing startups, thats what I’m made for and I’m good at it. So why not ditch it and do what I love full time. Anyways I code almost all the time of day and night.

But there is more to it. This university has provided so much, I have learned a lot of things from the people who live here and have lived here. And I believe undergraduation is not a process of becoming engineers, its more about unfolding the characters of your personality, figuring out who you want to be and how you are going to achieve it. The person you are and the ideology you follow and person you will shape up to be, its governed a lot by how you spend these four years of undergraduation. Each week I spend here, more I learn about myself and I don’t want to end this shaping up process before it is likely to be. Its a long self realizing journey, it depends on how much I can make out of it.

You make friends for life at this very beautiful place. I don’t want to leave them as of now unless our lives unfolds in a way ( which might happen after we graduate). But moving on is what life is all about, change is something that is permanent rest all is temporary, Still the rational side of my brain is not able to convince me to bail on my friends.

But the biggest reason I don’t want to drop out is I don’t feel ready for it – I just don’t feel I have “to” at this point of time. I have been asked regularly by people of all class – People with 20 years of industry experience, B-school professors, startup CEOs. (Any ways your degree is going to be of no worth to you) . It is of worth to me. Long time after I graduate it will remind me of days when I struggled, juggled between 12 hours of work accompanied with mid-terms and assignments, non stop coding sessions on nightouts and still attending that class with compulsory attendance. The time that made me who I’m now and who I’ll be in future. Learning to manage work and prioritising things. Trying to accommodate work, play, friends and family, failing at times to make it up to all, learning from mistakes and trying no to repeat them. It is what this great place has to offer me and to all the people who live here. Learning my strengths and pushing my limits in all spheres of life.

I will be working at a great organisation, no matter what; but not at the cost of ‘not being able to understand my greatest potential’ and  complement it with ‘greater set of skills’. Life  will be a learning process, It has to be. It will change in its forms from university to real job but it will be an enlightening journey.
Cheers to “Being Hungry and Being Foolish“.