Dec 10, 2020

Learning at its Best: Why Startups are the Perfect Schools

Rakshit Tiwari
Learning at its Best: Why Startups are the Perfect Schools

Rakshit is a software engineer at Clumio. He loves writing code and spends his free time reading/writing/tweeting about everything related with startups and tech products.

You often hear it said, “Startups are the best schools.” The reason why it’s said so often is because of the opportunity that comes along with a startup to build products from scratch. But for engineers, this should additionally come with several other checks that will help in deciding whether you just want to “learn to build” or “learn to build it right”. 

For example, Is your startup following the best coding practices? Is coverage and rigorous testing a concern for everyone in the team before the product is launched? Is everyone ensuring that a high test coverage is maintained? And finally, Is the startup actually INVESTING in your growth?

So, it’s easy to find a startup that builds fast but it’s supremely tough to find a startup that builds fast and builds it RIGHT in the BEST possible way.

About eight months back, I decided to join Clumio leaving behind an opportunity to join one of the largest investment banks in the world. The decision was primarily driven by factors including the quality of the founding team in the India R&D center, the trust of leading investors on the product and lastly, the opportunity to learn how SaaS products are built from scratch. Six months in and right in time when we will be launching the product that I have actively contributed to, I can say it without an ounce of doubt that the decision wouldn’t have been better.

From the very first day, I was made a part of the MSSQL backup and recovery project, which is a very critical data source for Clumio to protect. Ever since that first day, I have been involved in the initial POC’s for testing the components we will be using, designing the system at scale which can serve our huge customer base, and writing code on the canvas finally to make it a reality. The feeling of building stuff from scratch is impeccable but the cherry on top is the focus of our engineering team on not compromising the coding standards no matter how quickly we ship. To get an opportunity wherein you get to see the entire software cycle and that too in the best possible manner is absolutely rare to find in Bangalore.

While engineering awesomeness is one side of the coin, a few other things that I deeply admire about Clumio’s culture is how it’s continuously investing in the all round development of the individuals.

  1. One of our core values here is transparency and the best example for that is how the founders don’t hesitate to share the board meeting slides, series funding pitch decks with the entire company.
  2. We actively get our investors and notable dignitaries from SV on call to share their learnings in the industry. Most recent being the one with Scott Dietzen (Vice Chairman at Pure Storage)
  3. There are company wide slack channels “win-alerts”, “loss-alerts” wherein all the deals that we have won or lost are mentioned. Not only this, a detailed memo about why we won and more importantly why we lost is shared with the team that keeps the engineering and product team in sync with what needs to be built, what are we lacking and what are those things that are damn sure working for us. Another channel “field-updates” in itself is like an open exploration into real time feedback being provided by the sales team. The channel in itself is better than any sales or product book you would want to try out.

In only my 2nd week here, our CEO mentioned this that the workflow and practices which have been set up here are very important for us to succeed and are going to spoil all of us since it’s almost impossible to find all of this in any other company. It was tough to understand the same then when you haven’t explored everything but I can surely understand that it was 100 percent on point.

The problem with large IT firms is that as most of these organizations have scaled, the productivity of all the employees tend to go down and it becomes supremely tough, especially for young engineers to learn the art of product building, which honestly sounds like a huge opportunity loss at the very start of your career. Isn’t it?

And it’s our VP, Clumio India himself who nicely summarized this once in an all hands,

“You can either paint the bridge or build the bridge.”

In case all this makes sense to you and more importantly excites you, We are hiring. You can reach out to me if you want to know more about the company. I am happy to talk in detail about everything regarding Clumio.

And yeah lastly, all this is why I don’t describe what I do daily as a JOB but rather as an OPPORTUNITY.