One year at Akosha-Saurabh Kher

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I was a fresher just passed out from JNTU Hyderabad(2012) and was looking for a job when I stumbled upon E-Litmus. While going through the website, I came across the E-litmus blog where people were discussing about Akosha. Akosha had placed an opening on E-Litmus and were looking for talent. I went through their website, read their blog, visited their careers page: it was a very new world for me, I was ecstatic. I started digging deeper into Akosha and while doing so I came across ankursingla.com, which is the Founder/CEO’s blog. The blog really opened up for me the chance to explore the people I would be working with and after reading the “Saat Developer Maaf” article, I had a real good feeling about his attitude towards developers in general. After much more of reading about Akosha and the startup eco-system as a whole, I was much more elated, had already applied to Akosha, and I was very much excited about the opportunity. Following the application, I received a reply from the HR, I was sent with a coding assignment, followed by another one. Following which I was called for an interview at Akosha. I was put through 4 rounds of interviews over a week and was later given a project (to parse all tweets from Twitter which had links and then do analysis on them). I coded the project over 3 days and on successfully completing it, I became a part of Akosha on the 28th of Feb 2013. It was the first day at the office, now you might call one lucky but it was the same day that the “Geeks On a Plane” were visiting Akosha as a part of their India tour. So for a fresher out of college, new to the world of startups, to hang out with the likes of Dave McClure (500 Startups, Paypal Mafia), Amit Ranjan (Co-Founder Slideshare) , Brijesh Agarwal (Co-Founder Indiamart), Kyle Wild (Keen.io), Tim Falls (Sendgrid), Drew Olanoff (TechCrunch), Dan Harrelson (UX at GE) to name a few was a huge eye-opener. Geeks On A Plane (The ‘Geeks’ chilling at the Akosha office terrace) Now to just listen to such people conversing was overwhelming; everyone sounded like they had a sense of purpose, it was an amazing experience. The meetup went on till late night – I slept at the office on the first day at work! The GOAP meetup really helped in gaining some perspective as to how the startup eco-system was evolving, in and out of India. To keep up with the pace, there was a lot of hard work, speed and thought that required to be put into work. At the time of joining, we were three developers a Team Lead, a designer (@hdx28) and the CTO, as a Tech team, all very smart people with an awesome attitude, I felt like I was working with friends. Work started. Prior to joining Akosha, I had elementary knowledge of C, C++ and coding experience in Java, the tech stack at Akosha was of a very complex nature. Nginx, RabbitMq (AMQP), MongoDB (NoSql), Node.js, Faye.js, Memcache were relatively new terminologies, and neither did I have any experience on Struts, Hibernate, Spring (IOC) frameworks that were being used. The pressure was tremendous, we also did our HTML, CSS & jQuery as we had only one UI/UX guy. We also wrote SQL queries required to gather the data for monthly meetings. Mistakes were made but then there was no scope for repetition. (The UX guy specially designed this poster for me, after I had once published some faulty code) At Akosha, coding is a pass time and hacking is a ritual. It was around the same time we had come up with the idea of using Nginx as a Reverse Proxy Server, read http://goo.gl/Hww6xo to know why we dumped Apache for Nginx. There were also instances where we had to do some ‘salvage hacks’. One such incident was when Sendgrid was DDOSed by ‘Anonymous’ and the transactional e-mails stopped being delivered to our customers. We were in a soup, ‘bigtime’. We hacked our way out of such a situation happening again by introducing AMQP (we used RabbitMq) into our system and this was done in one day :). Both the aforesaid hacks were the brainchild of our beloved CTO (@vishix), he can literally put the cucumber to shame when it comes to coolness!

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(Vishal taking an interview!) The coding was continuous, the results were satisfying, and we continued burning the midnight oil for a long time. There were times I felt we were understaffed, but I took it as a blessing in disguise, and a blessing it was because a three-developer team was getting to do what a legion does not. pic4 (Burning the midnight wax (no pun intended! )) There were ups and downs, in the month of December (2013) two of our star developers quit the company. One of them wanted to start something of his own, the other person got a call from a health Startup in the US and was immediately placed as a Software Architect, he was the Team Lead at Akosha back then. This was a tough time for the team. We had built a product which received about 1700 complaints a day (currently we are at 61712 a month), we were working on social integration, the brands were starting to get interested in us. We had closed a few big brands already, there was too much to work on. We as a team started scouting for talent. Taking interviews, visiting startup events, doing telephonic interviews, face to face, Skype calls, we did whatever it took.We were able to hire two very awesome developers in a very short span of time. I wasn’t even into one year of my professional life and I was writing backend and frontend code, deploying it on the production server myself, was crucially involved in the recruitment process and was getting product management lessons. And it’s not just that we keep working hard, we as a tech team party harder. We make sure we have our fun time, we go out for beers from time to time, we have been trying our hand at bowling, we have our Counter Strike, Unreal Tournament sessions (regularly). Then there are Poker nights (real money is involved). Sometimes we go out for a movie. Akosha Outing (The Tech Team at the Jim Corbett FRH) pic6 (No, we are not coding, and yes we still play UT from time to time!) Sonu Kumar Soni (The Junior UX Designer is also our Guitar Guru) I still remember my final interview with Vishal (CTO). He had asked me where I saw myself one year down the line. I had come up with a very naive answer saying that I saw myself as a good developer having knowledge of all the technologies he had just mentioned (he was telling me about Akosha’s tech stack then). One year down the line it is and I can’t be happier about what I have been through so far,I have learnt and experienced much more than my own expectations. There’s still too much to be done, and it is getting exciting day by day. I am just proud of myself for taking this decision of working with Akosha. Life would have been really different had I not been working with such crazily passionate people.

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