Goyaka labs

I had a very eventful and thrilling 6 month ride at InterviewStreet. Working at InterviewStreet was a very big learning experience. I was constantly found wanting when it came to doing almost anything and it was possibly one of the most challenging, demanding and enriching phases of my career.

But I also figured out, that I wanted few different things in life than being an early employee, So decided to leave and start up on my own with Alagu and Rajagopal . Enter Goyaka labs.

As a warmup exercise, we built a Flickr to Facebook photo migration tool. Luckily, we got covered by ZDnet, GigaOM and few other magazines. We had a fun time scaling our service to handle about 500K photosand 15000 albums within a week. Something we never imagined ourselves. What actually happened was this.

We have finished a Picasa to Facebook version as well. Its still unlaunched because of a Facebook bug that happens because of volume of photo uploads.

Thanks for all the folks who tried out and gave us feedback.

The journey has just begun. Wish us luck!

Balls of steel.

I had heard about Paypal. Probably the best way there is to do online money transactions. Huge exit.

I had heard about Tesla Motors. A company that built Roadster, the next generation battery run stylish sports car. A company that is revolutionizing the market of battery run cars.

I had heard about SpaceX. A company that is trying to make space travel commoditized and put humans on Mars.

I didn’t know there was one man who was behind all of this until recently. Elon Musk. Respect. Inspiration. Yearning.

It is a humbling experience reading this. Makes me want more. To be more ambitious. To complaint less. To win. To man up. To just do more.

Hacker vs Entrepreneur

Caution: Post written over a period of time.

A hacker is a person who enjoys building cool things not necessarily just related to computers. Pokes around stuff and voids warranty. Not everything a hacker does could be productive. A hacker does something from what she* already knew and learns something new from the experiences, goes on to do newer things with that knowledge.

I believe that there is a hacker in every one. I remember breaking open the numerous toy cars in my childhood just to see what was inside. I know for sure everyone had that curiosity when they were young. To know how things worked from inside. To build stuff. To do stuff. Even though in a playful manner with no real goal/aim. In a way being a hacker is to be be that child again. To get that unadulterated joy of doing stuff.

An Entrepreneur is some one who creates wealth by trying to solve a common problem. The bigger the problem and better the solution, higher is the wealth created. Some one who sees/creates an opportunity and bridges the gap between what is and what could be and fills that gap, making money in the process. I think there is more to the an entrepreneur but I can see this much for certain.

The way I see it, if you are an Entrepreneur, you *should* be a hacker. If you don’t enjoy the stuff that you are doing, if you don’t love building something, it is going to be a very difficult to sell it. But being a hacker does not automatically make you an Entrepreneur. In fact, it is difficult to be a Entrepreneur. One has to do thing one does not love or even like.

So why this post? To find out if it is to be or not to be. The only fool proof way of finding out if something is not meant to be seems to be is to try and learn by failure. Even though the failure is costly, I think _that_ fear of failure should not stop me from doing stuff that I could be doing otherwise.

* she ⊂ { he, she }

Survival

A month or two ago, I lived in a different world. There, survival was not an issue. There I had different issues which seem quite funny now.

It doesn’t matter if we were part of a world’s best startup mentorship program or get featured in a newspaper article. Sure, those are pretty good stuff and not easy to achieve. But it is only a milestone. It is not a destination. Its not worth a dime if we get complacent one bit.

We are still a start-up, which means we are still bound by the basic rule that governs a start up : Every day is about survival. There is no room for complacency, ego or slacking. If anything, it only gets difficult from here. I thought it would end with the demo-day or at least become diminished – all the pressure, fun, failures and successes . To the contrary, it only begins now.

In a start-up, the highs are very big. But so are the lows. The highs show how far you have come. The lows make you stronger.

When I think about it, I only face a fraction of pressure what my founders might face. And I wish I could be more like them.

Quotes:
-. “And you thought you would have fun here, did you ?”
-. “Everything is a mirage, inside is very different from outside. Still a long long way to go.”

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