One month at Interviewstreet.

Joined InterviewStreet a month back. We are now a fast moving Y-Combinator startup, team of 5 (Anand, Hari, Vivek and Yuvi and myself). And we were featured on Techcrunch.

Following are few of my observations.

  1. Life in a startup is fast. It might sound cliche, but it really is fast.
  2. Customer is the king. One will end up doing what the customer needs. I had tough time adjusting to this. But the truth is, if your code doesn’t sell there is no point if its the best code ever. That said, crappy code doesn’t stay. Do as best as possible and try to write it optimally in the time available. A feature that user does not need or does not understand is not worth developing.
  3. Don’t ever fail on your USP.
  4. Customer support could be your USP. I never realized this before.
  5. No matter how awesome your code is, one single wrong query can screw up your life.
  6. Testing gets a new meaning. Along with speed comes more chances of breaking in production. Make sure to test the way the customer uses your site and not how you want them to use it. Break fast but fix faster.
  7. It was tough saying no to a lot of people. You get almost no time for yourselves in a startup in its high growth phase. Emotionally its a roller coaster.
  8. Sleep is for sissies.
  9. There is definitely a big high in pushing your code to production and seeing a satisfied customer in the next five minutes
  10. The lows are as big as the high’s in a start up and some times it is too overwhelming to handle . Keep the bigger picture in mind that you are trying to change something in this world. If that does not motivate enough, then entrepreneurship is not the answer.
  11. Last but not least, with my heart in programming, its tough to be an entrepreneur. Quite simply it sucks at times. But this is a new experience and I am still getting used to it. Something says, I am going to like it very much

Failures.

I had a fairly easy school and college life.

I was born and brought up from Neyveli, a small town in Tamil Nadu. At school, I was spoon fed and overly encouraged to perform at levels which was not so easy for some one from elsewhere, say a city. I had the great fortune of having excellent teachers, mentors and peers, who made my task well defined and easier. Quoting one of my teachers, “Its so tough to fail the secondary examinations after all the training you kids have had”.

College was not so much very different. Though I consciously didn’t concentrate too much in academia, I ended up spending my time, working on stuff that I loved and excelled in them than most others. I learnt computer science, life skills, attitude from a wide variety of people. While there are many who made it bigger than me at college and thereafter, my mileage in college was unique to some extent and no way less accomplished. I had acquired talent that would get me a good job, friends with whom I going to share most of my future with and most importantly, an urge to do something big with what I loved to do. All this while, I had very limited setbacks. My decisions were easier to make, for I was naive to an extent and I had ample time and direction to make those decisions.

Things have changed. Its no longer an easy ride. There are no longer any simple decisions. There are bridges to burn and in some cases, not the ones I want to burn. There are opportunities I have messed/messing up. I am sure, this phase shall pass and at times I sense, this phase is more self inflicted than otherwise. But the constant uneasiness is new to me and I have a tough time shutting it out. I don’t know what I am trying to achieve by this post for even if there are few of you who might share my quarter life crisis, its no consolation. All is not well that just ends well, the means are equally important if not more.

On love and other things

Diclaimer: This post is my interpretation of two of melodramatic movies. Both of them with completely different story lines and one can go on to say they convey entirely opposite meanings. Also, I have no authority on the subject, but what the heck.

Serendipity is where John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale meet on a christmas eve,have precious few hours and feel a connection between them. He wants her number but she insists that, if fate wanted them to meet again, they would. So he writes his name and phone number on a 5 dollar bill and gives it away and she writes her name and phone on a book and agrees to sell it in a book shop. The rest of the movie is about how they meet again after few (predictable) twists and turns.

500 Days of Summer is about Joseph Gordon-Levitt who falls in love with Zooey Deschanel and believes she is his soul-mate, though she lets him know up front that she doesn’t really believe in relationships. When she breaks up with him and marries some one else, it does a real number on him. Eventually he lets her go, after he realises there is no such thing as destiny or soul-mate, instead everything is just coincidence.

As I mentioned earlier, the films are entirely contrasting in their message. While the first one is about how fate is always trying to get you to your significant other, the latter is that there is no cosmic significance to one’s love life. There is one common point though. Destiny or no destiny, what one gets is only the sum of how much passion he has towards that. The sum of all your actions decides where you go, or in this case, whom you get to live with. Life is short. Moments that you can remember are much shorter. What I am trying to get at it is, go have your moments. If you fail, that is okay. You can crib about it later. It will get you a real nice story to tell your friends at least.

The pursuit of Happyness

Disclaimer: The post was written over a few months, so the continuity might be at loss and no, This is not about the Will Smith movie.

So I have been thinking. Why this rat race ? What final purpose does it solve ? If the ultimate goal of life is to be happy, why spend your time in front of computers doing somebody’s work, living somebody else’s life, which you are not sure if it matters at any level or to any one? Why live a life which you are not content about, let alone being excited about it ? What is the point of existence when one really can’t define what is fun ? I mean why can’t one be content with what oneself has ? Why the urge for more ? Or If I may, for Who ?

Do you know how a sine curve looks ? One day I live on the positive peak of it. Work is good, food is good, music I listen is good, Things I do are good. Next day, sometimes same day but on a different hour I am drowning in its negative trench. There are also times when nothing matters. Let the lightning drop next to me, I won’t move a muscle. But there are also times when even touch-me-not plant seems less sensitive. Its no f??king consolation that a lot of people feel the same way.

But off late the amplitude of that sine function has gone down. I stay closer to the normalcy line. The curve seem to have dampened with occasional minor impulses either side of the axis. And at times, I think I have got the big picture, That my purpose does not have any great cosmic significance but only to my own pursuit of happiness, which is nothing but a electrochemical state of the mind brought about by varied stimuli.

Too much thinking is bad for health.

To learn to say no !

I guess one of the very important things that I should learn to do in the coming days is the ability to say no gracefully. You can say that I am a yes man, in fact I was quite proud of it until recently. Being an yes man has been quite a positive thing for me so far, until I continuously ended up hurting my plans by saying yes. And the first time I said a NO, even I felt it kind of being rude and  the other person ended up taking it personal. I think it will take me some time to not to be guilty about it. So just in case I am saying No to you next time, its not anything personal, but its just that I have something else more important to do. I sincerely do hope you would understand.