Boundaries

You think you are someone. You think you know your boundaries – the line that divides the things that you would do and those you wouldn’t. You think you know what you are capable of. And then you think you know the same things about people close to you. You are sure of it. You think you couldn’t be so far from truth.

Do a startup. You realize you are not that someone you thought you were. It was just a mask you were comfortable wearing. The boundaries were just lines that you drew.

This video applies to you too. Not just the world.

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Easier said than done

“Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t
do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.”

Movie quote from The Pursuit of Happiness

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!

A pleasant interlude #1

Off late posts have been rather monotonous. Here is an aberration 🙂

I met her when I was at my work that day. She had long dark hair. She was wearing red tops and a blue jeans. I thought she looked pretty. But then I was working and pretty hard at that. No time for distractions. Ironically, work brought us closer. We had to interact to get stuff done. It was pretty late when we were all done with our work and we ended up going to dinner, along with the rest of the team. Until this point, our conversations were strictly work related.

Then something happened that I totally unexpected. It was quite late and she just had a bicycle to get back to her place and everyone had left. Being a gentleman that I am, I offered to walk her back. Surprisingly, she accepted. Don’t read too much into it. It was a sensible thing to do that late in the night.

“We don’t have to walk. I could ride the bicycle with you on the back”. I can never say yes to that.

“Why, do you think I can’t?” Yes, I thought she couldn’t. But I blushed and beat around the bush.

“Thats bad. We have a cycle, but now both have to walk and its quite some distance.” What other option did I have but to offer to ride it myself.

“Cool!”, she said.

I rode for a while. I hadn’t cycled for more than 3 years. And the cycle was not in perfect condition. With the wind against us, I was struggling. But my ego wouldn’t let me tell I can’t do it. After all if she thought she could do it…

My phone rang. Lucky I thought. We got down, I took my call while signaling her we could walk. There was a smirk on her face. I think she knew I was hoping we would walk. And we continued to walk after I was done with the call. She was talking a lot and I let her do it. Why I liked her talk, I have no idea. And then I said something funny. Not sure what it is now. She laughed…

We reached her place where we had to go separate ways. I bade her good night. Next morning I took a flight back to bangalore. The air hostess might have seen me smile. “Having a nice day sir?”. I smiled some more.

I can’t tell if she was actually interested in me or she was just really social. From my experience its always the latter. I don’t believe in fate, destiny and similar concepts. Neither do I believe in “made for each other” and such stuff that you find in romantic-comedy movies. Its just that something happened that day, something warm and if I get a chance to meet her one more time, I would probably tell her she was quite awesome. I don’t even remember her name right now. All I remember now is that it was a pleasant interlude.

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.”