Going Live and 1st year anniversary @ ComputeNext – some reflections

I completed one year at ComputNext on 05/31/2012 – yeah I survived the startup duel! Since we were heads down on V1, didn’t have much time to reflect or blog about it. Most of this week I was down with back ache, and had a lot of time to reflect upon. Following the pattern of an earlier post, here are my top 3 I love(d) and top 3 I rue(d). Again, this is all about my feelings and what I gained/ lost in the past year. Reflections on what we did correct/ wrong together as a team is out of scope here.

Things I love(d)

1) Startup Craziness

Yeah, we are crazy! We aim for the impossible, and over-achieve it. We squeeze 29 hours in a day. We are Dev/ Test/ PM/ Ops all in one. Call us whatever, we are crazy. I don’t know how to define it, or point to what exactly make some of us love startups – may be it’s the kick of getting a product out, or may be solving hard problems, or being creative or resourceful. May be all, may be none of the above. All I know is we are driven by a single vision, try to make something happen, and we make it happen. We might iterate, pivot, change or redo, but we DO something – something meaningful, something that someone wants, something that solves someone’s problem (hmm, lot of somethings here, something’s going on in my head :))

2) Learning Opportunities

Being resource crunched also opens up a whole lot of avenues to learn, take different roles and be creative. Combine this with the hot problem you are solving – you get an exponential learning curve. In my case, I have picked up Javascript/ Ajax, Node.js (programming), MongoDB (database) and most importantly a slew of cloud technologies/ platforms (openstack, vmware, aws, azure) and scalable architectures, business expertise – what customer wants, strategy, running  startup (granted not an expert!) in the past year. I am pretty sure I am missing something, but you get the idea. I won’t call myself an expert in all of those, but in some. I also am confident enough to implement a working solution for a given problem in all of these.

3) Cool factor

I haven’t met  a single person in the last year who didn’t say ‘wow’ when I introduce myself as a ‘Lead Developer @ ComputeNext, a cloud startup’. Granted cloud is ‘cool’ these days, but startups are always cooler. May be everybody thinks all the startups will end up as Instagram, but 90% startups fail. May be that risk factor makes it cooler. I don’t want to dig up why they are cool, but just want to enjoy being cool!

Things I rue(d)

1) Stress

As much as I enjoyed the craziness, my body kept reacting to the increased stress levels – I lost a lot of hair, greying accelerated, and I am almost addicted to caffeine. I had to do ‘body work’  every week to keep my back in shape, but it collapsed past week end. I had to stay away from work/ laptop for 3 days to be able to walk normally, but I am still at pain. My physician cannot attribute to any other reason than stress. Not injury, not physical labor. Hmmm.

2) Work/ Life Imbalance

OK, this is obvious. This is not specific to startups, but more so in startups. 6+ hours of sleep had become luxury; being around the family w/o responding to emails/ issues felt so new that kids got surprised I am even doing that. I chose this, we expected this. But visualizing something is not the same as going through it. One has to accept the reality that W/L balance sucks at startups. You are in or out. No grey area.

3) Personal Hobbies/ Projects

In a startup, one lives, breathes by it. Distractions cannot be afforded. I had at least one project I wanted to contribute to, but couldn’t do more. I was little disappointed with myself for that, but in retrospect, it is not that bad. I am already working 120%, so there is no time for an extra 20% project.

Now time to stretch my back! In the mean time, read this on why/ why not to join a startup!

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One comment on “Going Live and 1st year anniversary @ ComputeNext – some reflections

  1. Congratulations, Sriram! It’s a well written reflections summary. Meantime, take care of your health. One of the things you should implicitly learn is to become a seasoned contributor, who knows to peak and plateau. Trying to be at peak at all times sets false expectations, makes the system take you for granted, doesn’t reward optimally over long time, stamps you as someone who couldn’t delegate things and is not sustainable. Consider reading ‘Art of War’ by Sun Tzu.

    Good luck and I have already started to await your second annivesary note. 🙂

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