Startup founders reveal how it has changed their lives

“The amount of the torture you go through being with a startup, transforms you,” reveals Abhinav Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder – Fluid Motion, an Artificial Intelligence technology startup.

Founding or working with a startup might have been hugely glorified but at its heart lies grit, determination and sheer hard work. Tech2 spoke to some such driven individuals who embarked on the startup journey and lived to tell the tale. All of them speak about the jarring difference in the culture they saw, coming in from a conventional corporate setup. Kamal Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of SenSight Technologies which is a connected car device startup, says that a startup has an unstructured environment and is riddled with uncertainties. Obviously that can be stressful. Having said that, he believes some individuals (like himself) actually enjoy that, and work hard to make it big in that kind of environment. “While corporate has a distinct hierarchy, we don’t. We multitask as there are really no specialised roles and people. But some people thrive on it. There’s a bit of a siege mentality where the larger goal is taking on the big giants,” explains Kamal. On a more personal level, he adds that his mindset has shifted too and he just doesn’t see himself working for a large company, ever.

Anand Babu, who is part of a legal tech startup Surukam Analytics shares a similar sentiment. He shares the reason behind startups coming out with more innovation, that too at a faster rate, as compared with a large corporate. “Startups care about certain things too much,” he says. He shares how even larger companies have the talent and resources, but startups make the most of it. Sharing an example of his own setup, he explains how all big companies have a legal department and a technology department. But both are placed miles apart. “When we came up with the idea, we thought, will this change how the legal industry works? And that’s how we set out on developing the solution. Our technology isn’t perfect yet, and we do face a lot of resistance because the legal domain is not really open to adopting new technology. But we believe that machine learning and AI will make access to justice easier and faster and that is what we are aiming at,” says Anand.

‘Passion’ is not just an expression that startups throw around. Fluid Motion’s Abhinav is a Chartered Accountant and an ISB dropout while his brother, the co-founder, is a CFA and IIM-A dropout. It’s passion that led them to teach themselves coding and scale out a company from scratch. “It’s usually seven day weeks and takes up most of our personal time, but it doesn’t matter,” says Abhinav. On a side note, he adds how working with a startup has completely transformed him from being the guy with the dirtiest room in the house to developing a borderline OCD for being organised. Adding to the topic of being passionate, Anand of Surukam Analytics adds how many people in their team have left their high paying jobs to join them, just because their wavelength matched and they share the same passion. Kamal, of SenSight Technologies, says working with a startup is not a sprint that you can dash through and get done with. It’s a marathon.

So how do these fanatical beings find others of the same species to increase their tribe? “Startup hiring is a massive task,” shares Anand. “It’s not easy to get people because we really don’t have time to train or even pay that much. We just have to look for talented people, who are on the same wavelength and who can join us on the promise that good things will happen!”

Abhinav sets off on their saga of hiring. He explains that they have about 8 rounds that a potential candidate goes through. This includes one round that involves solving a Rubik’s cube. (He can’t help but mention here that he can do one in under 60 seconds.) Then there’s a round that is taken by a chatbot that asks standard profiling questions. And then there’s the final round taken by them where they get to know the candidate better. “We look beyond conventional resumes. We have many people currently working with us who took 3-4 years of gaps in their careers, who failed their 12th standard exams, dropouts, or are self-learned coders,” shares Abhinav. He adds that these candidates come with great talent at a relatively lower cost, which is a big win for the startup.

Despite the uncertainties and hardships, none of these guys would really want to be doing something other than what they are right now. Asked if he would do anything differently if he were to start this entire startup journey over again Abhinav says, “Maybe we would start a little slow, less aggressive. But other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.”


Published Date: Jul 15, 2016 03:47 pm | Updated Date: Jul 15, 2016 03:47 pm