Quitting a high profile job for starting up is a huge psychological leap
While my batch mates were celebrating their placements in the last semester of our final year, we were busy coding 16 hours per day for 45 days in a 12x10 room. This in spite of the fact that we had no idea of how to build a company, and had already bagged some of the best jobs in campus. We had no business model, no user acquisition strategy, and no marketing plan!
We didn't even know that equity investment is not a long term loan.
Quitting a cushy job is scary
Although the thought of quitting a job at Google was scary, there is an aspect to it which made the transition easy. For example, most of us were scared of dark rooms in our childhood, but the fact was that we were afraid of the darkness and not the room itself. We knew where the lights were, and would scramble across the room to switch them on, and puff went the fear.
The point I am trying to make is that the fear is more in our mind than anything else and it was the same with quitting my job. It was not there before the day I resigned, it was not there the day after I had resigned, it was there just for a moment when I was scrambling through the dark. Starting out something of your own is a small step in your life and if it does not work out you can always do something else, but it is a huge leap psychologically.
Chasing small dreams
While we were working hard to get the product rolling, we always dreamt of having a small foosball table, which obviously required space. We started our journey from a tiny hostel room to a co-working space in GSF accelerator; a small corner in somebody else's' office to a 6-seater table in a co-working space; then a one room office; and now finally a 1,600 square feet office which has its own little corner for guess what- a foosball table.
And while buying a foosball table isn't that big a deal - we could have bought it in early 2013 itself - it's more about having enough people in the team who would fight for their turn to play on it. We have realised that the best investment in a company is the team that is passionate about your work. Also, building a company is much more than simply writing code or selling products.
Being around geeks can be intimidating, but it's a good learning process
Graduating from IIT and starting up didn't make me geeky (it's a common misconception about such institutes). And building a fairly complex application on a tech stack I knew very little of, wasn't trivial. Of course having IIT Roorkee's geekiest person as co-founder, didn't really set any low bars as the ambition to build one of the most tech savvy startup brings with it new challenges on a daily basis. We had people like a two times GSoC'er (Google Summer of Code winner) and a recognised Mozilla contributor who were joining the team. I have never considered myself a geek, but I have been around a lot of them. It can be intimidating at times, but it's a learning of its own.
It hurts when you get turned down by investors, lose a client to your competitor, or miss out on a good hire, but nothing hurts worse than an unhappy user. There are also times when things go terribly wrong not because the coding is crappy or you don't know how to do things, but due to small miscalculations. Once, it was unfortunate that the time zone on our servers reset to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) because of a time synchronisation utility we had installed a couple of days back and also a large Distribution Board (DB) instance on Amazon Web Services (AWS) failed to respond to the overwhelming number of users and they were not able to access the page they had come for.
For once we failed to deliver something flawlessly, in which we aim to be the best in the world. When that happens, you have unhappy angry users. Toil hard to continuously delight your users, but make one mistake and they can be ruthless and you have no option but to take the blame. It gets agonising because it could have been avoided. But one thing that keeps you moving is the satisfaction of building your product.
(Gupta is the co-founder of online technical recruiting platform HackerEarth. As told to Techcircle.in's Nikita Peer.)