scale

you want to scale your company from point-a to point-b; do you hire someone who’s at point-c (c > b) who has already crossed a & b or someone who is between a & b but very smart? this isn’t an easy question and likely does not have a one-size-fits-all answer; however from my experience in running hackerrank, it’s usually better to prefer the latter skill set than the former. while the risk of choosing the latter person is the doubt if she will scale in the future, the risk of choosing the former person in a growth stage company is not getting her hands … Continue reading scale

bet

there are two kinds of companies you can start: a. inventing a product in an existing large market (eg: relateIQ in CRM space) b. betting on a growing market and having monopoly (eg: Google/Uber/Salesforce when they started) the problem with companies in category-a is being eaten up by the giant in that market either by way of acquisition or building the same product on their own. you never worry about the size of market in this type. the problem with companies in category-b is betting that the market is going to continue to grow rapidly –  betting cloud is going to be … Continue reading bet

wrong

as the company scales, the probability of things breaking increases. it can range from a communication breakdown to pure sloppiness depending on the situation. but always remember that it’s never ever the individual’s fault. there are only two possibilities: a. you hired the wrong person in which case you’ve to fix your recruiting process b. her manager didn’t do a good job in defining the framework and helping her to succeed as you can see, this is a recursive function that comes right to you if something goes wrong and you also have the same parameters.  

transparent

a big part of the reason why a founder takes a decision in a particular way is the access to different pieces of information she has. this can range from financials to impact on other orgs, people, other feature requests in queue, how doing X be perceived by users, etc. if you’d like everyone in the company to take the same decision that you’d have taken (if you were in that situation), then it’s only logical that you should provide the same set of information to everyone. of course, there are going to be things that are extremely sensitive which can’t be … Continue reading transparent

college

what to do when you’re in college if you’re looking to start a company eventually? imo, college is the greatest invention to help start companies, more than it’s actual purpose of education. the amount of stuff I learnt from peers far outweighed the traditional classes. it’s the perfect environment for you to not worry about failure and most importantly finding your co-founder. here are some things I wish I had done: b-plan contests: these are mostly not worth anything except for the prize money. don’t spend your time in writing that 16-page business plan. spend your time in actually building stuff there are always going … Continue reading college

SaaS pricing

Here are some of the parameters I found to be essential when pricing a SaaS product. Scale When one of your customers’ doubles in size, does revenue from that customer also double? or at least 1.5x? If revenue is not proportional to the growth curve of your customers, the pricing is incorrect. Habit Is your product becoming a part of daily routine for your customers, at least to a certain section of people? This is important because once it becomes a habit, you don’t have to worry about churn much (the only exception being your product deteriorates in quality) because … Continue reading SaaS pricing

Great ideas come from inexperience

History says it. The disruption in automobile industry wasn’t from Ford, the disruption in travel & renting industry wasn’t from the CEO of Hilton, the disruption in phone industry wasn’t from Nokia or Motorola and so on.. Being inexperienced in something gives you the liberty to question anything. There are no rules. One of India’s famous directors, Mani Ratnam once told about a shot in his film. He never went to a film school and didn’t receive any formal training from any director. In one of his movies, he had asked the cameraman to tilt the camera and put it in … Continue reading Great ideas come from inexperience

Hiring lessons Part 3 – Annoyance

I’ve hired a lot of people, let go some of them, a few of them went to Facebook & Google and a couple to start their own companies. In all these ups & downs, the one strong quality I’ve noticed with people whom I enjoy working (and who are really damn good) is… annoyance. In a positive outlook, it may be called obsession but the feeling expressed to show your obsession is usually annoyance at something wrong/missing. There are so many variables in a startup that it’s not possible to control everything. An easy solution can be to just give … Continue reading Hiring lessons Part 3 – Annoyance

Hiring lessons – Part 2

A startup’s first two hires. Once you raise money, the default action is usually to hire more programmers to build fast and experiment more. Unfortunately things won’t move in the pace you expected it to. A lot of things fall into your plate – setting up insurance, payroll, a small kitchen, visiting the bank for a company credit card, buying computer peripherals & accessories for employees, decorating office space & many more. This leaves very little time to think about product & hiring and hence slowness sets in. The first hire to make is an office manager. It might seem steep to … Continue reading Hiring lessons – Part 2

Hiring lessons – Part 1

I’ve made a ton of mistakes in hiring people and wanted to write down the lessons I’ve learnt till now.  I’m not sure how many parts this post would have, here’s the first one anyway. Speed vs hire Why does a company having 5x more programmers than you, move slowly or at the same pace as you? Apart from the overhead to manage more people, it’s the failure to maintain a high hiring bar that’s causing the slowness. I made this mistake. It’s a very rationale thing for anyone to ensure that the hiring bar is kept high. But why do … Continue reading Hiring lessons – Part 1