More than an year since I’ve quit IBM and into startup world. Too many things to write.. Things moving at such a rapid rate that if I write something today, tomorrow it might not be valid or correct. Makes me stop and think at times whether what I’m doing makes sense, is it the right path or am I yet another crazy person.
Advices are something whichi I’ve got more than I’ve wanted in this one year. Way too many advices. Contradictory advices. Person X says do this and Y will say don’t do this. Among all the advices I’ve got till now, I remember just 3.. These 3 are now a part and parcel of every small decision I make and are a part of my system.
Swaroop is currently working in Infibeam and has worked in Adobe, Yahoo and his own start-up. He blogs at http://www.swaroopch.com/. We met swaroop when he was just about to join infibeam and the main goal was share his experiences and basically to get some start-up gyaan.
He started the whole conversation with the following disclaimer
Hey, I'm going to say a lot of things which I've learnt from my experiences. I might give loads of experiences. But don't take them for granted. Never apply them directly in your business. Anything I say, please use your brain and make sure you check whether it makes sense for you to follow it or not. We met a bunch of VC's and every VC suggested a change which changed the business by like 10%. After meeting 10 VC's and implementing a whole lot of changes in our product, we came to realised that we've changed the product by 100% and what we have now is not what we started to do.
If you don’t consider that as an advice, read it again twice.. thrice.. maybe 100 times. I did the same mistake. I didn’t realise I was doing it before I met him. I knew I was making tangential changes. But what I forgot was these tangential changes add up and change your product whole lot.
So, every customer or client has his/her own requirement. Before we met him, we used to put a night-outer, finish the feature for that customer and try to make him happy. What we failed to think was what will happen beyond that customer.
Now, things wait. We take 2 days even to start a new feature. We have a build cycle, where in our new features gets pushed to production only on Mondays. So, even if I code something fast and quick, I have to wait till Monday to get it to production. So, I take this time to think more about the feature and this helps us a lot.
The second advice is again way too obvious and I can’t believe I started following this only after I heard it from someone.
Nithya Dayal is the CEO of Muziboo.com, where you can upload music and share it with friends. I happened to meet her in Yahoo Big-Thinkers event and we were talking about Product Management and what role does she perform as a CEO of Muziboo. So, she mentioned like ”
As a developer, it is easy to get excited with new technology, tools, products etc. So, what a developer does and what you've planned for the product might diverge at times. It is my job to make sure that what has been planned is executed. If you don't follow your plan, then the hours you spent on making the plan goes down the drain. So, either you shouldn't plan or if you do it, you should execute it
How this helped me?
Lots lots and LOTS. I stopped doing multiple things at a time. Both in my desktop and my mind, I had only one thing to do. Stopped switch tasks and realized that “Developers are monkey minded.” Even now, it is so damn itching to work on cool stuff like scaling, mysql replication, multiple servers and other stuff. But the plan in the board says “Get 10 paying customers and then think about anything else”. So, back to the small small features customers asked for and trying to close the deal than work on new cool features.
Last one, is from Mukund from Buzzgain. If you’ve by any chance met him, you will become his fan. Simply awesome guy whose enthusiasm level is never less than 100% :). So, we showed him a demo of our product and he liked it, suggested changes, sales tips and while we are about to leave and say bye, he asked us a question.
"Why didn't you ask for more contacts from me? You SHOULD ask that. Do you remember the binary tree you read in college, that is how you should do sales. Every person you meet ask him 3 more contacts. ".
I was speechless. I was SO dumb that getting more contacts from him never even occurred to me. Again, a simple advice. I’ve made it a habit now.
I hope following just 3 advices over a period of 12 months is not so bad after all.