One of the downsides of running a company is that you get caught up with so many problems to solve ‘at this moment,’ that you miss the focus to think long term. Especially one of the things I miss the most is reading books and reflecting on the learnings.
It is easier to take your time off to read books during “peaceful” time of a company. These are the three books I’m planning to read this quarter.
9 years since I’ve decided to start on my own. Looking back, not a bad decision after all.
Looking ahead, excited only about two things. People I’m working with and the problem I’m solving. More and more interesting people to work with. The scope of the problem to be solved is getting bigger and bigger.
There are a lot of ways to define a startup. Paul Graham defines a startup as growth.
This is how I would define it.
A startup is an interesting & brutal game. The reason why it is both interesting & brutal is that the rules of the game keep on changing. Every 2 or 3 years, almost the entire rule set will be replaced. It is even crazy to imagine playing cricket for the first 1 hour, soccer for the next 2 hours and basketball for the remaining 1 hour.
With the above definition, one can assume that playing by the same rules is a sure way to lose the game. Since no one knows when the rules of the game change, one can understand the rules only by observing the results of each round.
#meta – The above definition of a startup also changes every few years.
The answer for the above question was always “Vivek & Hari”, but not anymore.
To give an idea on from when to when we built things and now who is “actually” building the company.
From June 2009 – December 2011
From Jan 2012 – Today.
There were many other smart programmers we hired, fired/quit. They did help us grow forward, but these two guys were there with us for around 2 years now.
Couple of things I’ve learnt from them.
1. Hire people who are ready to learn and work. It doesn’t matter if they are freshers and not from IIT/NIT.
2. Once point 1 is taken care, you will be shocked that they surprise you with their work regularly. After a point you start getting used to the surprises and just start trusting them.
3. It takes at least 2 years to make a big impact in a startup. If you want build the startup and grow along with the startup, make sure you spend at least 2 years.
4. Weird that we have titles like CEO, CFO, CTO and Founders/Co-Founders, but these real “builders” don’t have a proper title. The title should clearly mention that these guys are more powerful than the founders.
A few days ago, a website (hmm, not just any website though) happened to mention my name in one of their posts.
A lot of people congratulated (for what) and some even said “You should be so proud now”. Well, to tell you the truth I wasn’t. In fact, for that matter, I don’t think I’ve ever been proud of anything except one.
I am insanely proud of the team I’ve built in Interviewstreet. I’m proud to have a fun/great working environment. I’ll say it again. I’m proud of my team here. Rest of the stuff I achieved is by luck or by the hard work of this great team.
So, if you ever want to congratulate me for anything, please do drop a mail to team at interviewstreet.com. It will reach the people it belongs to.
f you are serious about customer support, then you will wake up in the middle of the night, search for you mobile phone and your heart should skip a beat when you don’t find it next to you. When you finally find it next to your laptop on your table, with no missed calls from your customers (thank god), you take your phone and hug and take it to your bed.
1. Answer. The person handling the customer support should have a good idea of the picture. Helps if the same support person talks to the a particular customer every single time.
2. Don’t Escape : When a customer explains a problem, it works for me is never a solution. (web startups/browser issues)
3. Listen to the customer totally before offering a solution. You might have had many customers face the same issue, but don’t jump into a conclusion and throw a solution at him before he finishes.
4. Apologize. Even if it wasn’t your fault, but if your customer is facing a issue, it is YOUR fault. Don’t ever thing that the customer is stupid making silly mistakes. Your application should be customer friendly.
5. Act. Act immediately after apologizing. Customer doesn’t need your apology. No one is going to “forgive” you just coz you apologize to them. Act fast. Super fast.
6. Explain. Explain what’s going on to your customer. They understand. Trust me. If things are gonna get delayed, explaining things to customers gives them heads up and they will be prepared.
7. Don’t expect customers to care whether it is your weekend/holiday or how many hours you sleep per day. In short, you human voice should replace the IVRS. Every single time, after 2 rings, they should get a hello, no matter when and where they are calling from?
8. SLA. You should not worry about the digits in your SLA, but you should try to optimize the units. If you take days to answer a customer query, you will be out of business.. If you take hours, try to make that reply in minutes. If you answer within minutes, try to answer within a few seconds. Nothing makes a customer happy than seeing a reply to his mail even before he could signout.
9. Care. Suggest things for customers which might really benefit them. Not because it involves less work for you. Think from their point of view and suggest a solution by which they save the maximum time and money. You business is not to make money. It is save customers time and money, for which he is ready to pay you money. So, value of time saved + money saved >> money he pays you.
When I used to work from bangalore, I had this 300 pages notebook. I used to carry it everywhere and write my TODOs. I stopped using it after I moved to chennai. I happened to get a look at this notebook after a long long time and boy, how much I’ve scribbled.
Note : Most of the notes is about interviewstreet and IBM work. You might not understand what it is all about. Even I don’t 🙂 Just posting some random pages from the book.
Candidate Name : ___________
Interview Date/Time : ____________
Competencies Tested : ___________
Technical Skills : ____________
Communication Skills : ____________
Areas of Improvement : -> Textarea
Update button -> Triggers mails
Confirm/Forgot Password -> let’s mail them
Robin (details about partnership)
Indus call to discuss stuff
Blog + Forum
Post a Request
Banner + Poster
Search (Lucene Overview)
Development env fix.
Change password in profile
Autocomplete + HTML change for viewer region
Edit Profile -> Bucket Display
Handle -> Opens a facebok
Displayable profile -> Page 4 details
Edit Bank details? – Call ccavenue
Discuss implmentation & finalize
Discuss wireframes + implement
No payment before feedback
Forums + Blog
Code cleaning + nice to haves
Testing for critical area (Selenium/Manual)
Home page topic!!
Password – confirm/forgot
Bugs to fix
CSS in IE6
Facebox loading should come in center.
Facebox size in IE6
Background color of openbox ok?
Register domain. edubeam or careersabove dot com
Landing page campaign finish
Finish home page
header — nav links
home page ->
register, login page
Analytics for site
Latest news (Backend + UI)
Change the method not the core model after listening to others.
Three phases of action
Idea -> Execution -> Result
If the result is negative, check if execution is correct. If the execution is perfect, then go to idea.
Selling is all psychology. Try to put the pitch in the right angle.
Get 10 interviewers
I am not sure we are gonna work with him now.
Prateek & Nithya
Concentrate on SEO
No offline is needed for them
Sit for a day and think how do I make my page rank better.
SEO is something you do everyday.
The results take a month to come back.
She is cute 🙂
No particular gyaan. Mostly about techcrunch.
Local git to server
mail to nandini for content
test scrips on browser of IE, FF & Chrome
Optimize JS + CSS
Test round 2
Topics to ponder
Feedback Mechanism -> for viewer and viewee
Post a request + matching interviewers
There must be close to 50 TODO list in that book. SCARY.. 🙂