How my non-tech female cofounder built 45 CTOs for top-notch Startups!

Today, she has earned the Women Pride Award from her favourite Bollywood actor. She has been in the top 10 women entrepreneurs list in India. Her success is the result of her hard work and perseverance, tinkering her way to the top passing through a lot of background hurdles.

Adding the co-founder tag on LinkedIn is easy, justifying it is so hard. You have to take some bold decisions as a CEO and you have no other choice.

Aditi Chaurasia: Co-founder and CEO of EngineerBabu.

She took some brilliant decisions to help us reach where we are today.

1. You should choose your customers and not vice versa!

The idea is that, people do understand their business domain and market, but technology may not be their forte. Eventually, Most of the people end up hiring the wrong person.

Aditi made a decision that we would work only with startups for the first two years.

I asked her why, since everyone looked up to work for enterprises and we could make more money with it.

She replied “We will help entrepreneurs to build their MVP and learn how to make successful startups. Initially, we might not make good money but we would surely learn a lot working with the founders of these startups. Once one of these products is successful, we can enter the market with a bang.”

She took this decision four years back, and today, more than 30 products built by us have received the investment they desired for. Two of them got selected in Y-Combinator in 2016 & 2017. We have established our name where many of these businesses are now 500+ People enterprises.

Working with entrepreneurs is not that easy. They do not have much money; all they carry with them is dreams and hope. Most of them put their hard earned savings in the product as they mostly get frustrated working under someone else and decide to make their own path and build their own company.

They are usually not looking for technology partner; they are looking for a friend. Someone who can listen to their ideas, understand market, help them build a great product and fulfill their dreams.

2. Investment is the first step of bankruptcy.

Taking investment is similar to Allopathic treatment. Once you take it, you need it again. Many of the startups fail because of the investment they get.

Anyone can burn investor’s money but it needs solid product or services to earn customer’s money.

When every other startup was getting funded, funding began to be treated as success. People look down upon you if you are not a funded startup.

Aditi explained we will stay bootstrapped and profitable from Day 1. We will make money from customers’ money.

Two years, we had been bootstrapped and profitable startup, but to scale up, I decided to go for investment.

We received $100k funding and we used it.

But soon, I realized that, it was our first major mistake.

We were unable to match up to the business ethics. I had no clue what to do, It was my bad decision. I had no choice, I wanted to give-up. I was crying for the first time in my life. I cannot fire my people just because someone from the outside thought they were not capable.

She took a call and spoke to our investor-

“Boss it’s my company, I know how to run business. Please keep your advice with yourself; we will refund your money”.

Next few months were a really difficult time for us because we had planned our expenses keeping this investment money in picture. Now, we had to take that out from our business, the only way was to get the money from the customers.

She talked to the team, she shared her decision; decision for a better future for all of us.

“We will face some problems, might not be able to pay your salaries. If you wish, you can stay with us; if you do want, you can leave”.

It was a tough decision but we had no choice. Team made the choice, and surprisingly, yet not surprisingly, everybody stayed.

We also promised to work harder; Last 6 months of the are the highest earning months. That is the power of a good team, who believes in your dream.

3. Culture of trust & commitment:

When we did a start up, no one was ready to join us. Good people were looking for high paying jobs, of course, which we were not able to offer initially, as even survival was difficult for us.

Aditi decided to hire people based on their attitude. She said we can train them in skills but attitude is something you cannot teach; that is inbuilt.

The first person we hired was Mukesh, a BA graduate, a non-tech guy and married. He definitely did not want to work in someone’s office with the lowest paying job.

He came to us for an opportunity to learn Android. I told him I will give him the chance.

He asked me “Will you leave me”?

I told him “I won’t leave you until you learn.”

For a non tech guy who doesn’t know C, C++ or Java, learning Android was a pretty bold and ambitious step. Those days, Android was a very new technology. Only a few tutorials were available on the internet. Laptops used to get hung when we ran simulator. Today, Mukesh is working with us as a Senior Android developer. He has trained 50+ students in Android technology for free.

Parth, a game designer then, now leads the app design team.

Shivram who used to work on Photoshop in a gold company, now makes beautiful websites.

Sharad, GYM trainer, designed our lovely website.

Pavan, Java Expert, asked me “Bhaiya, I want to work with you”.
We were not working on Java technology. I told him that we have a PHP developer position to offer to him as an intern. We needed someone to make APIs. He now heads the PHP team, and is an expert in Angular and Node.

Raju Bhaiya -> An office boy -> Account Manager

He wanted to learn and grow. Today, he manages company finances and mine too. It’s been three years, I never login into my bank account, he takes care of it all.

You cannot create a culture in one day. It takes time to earn trust of your people.

People are not loyal to company, they are loyal to people.

4. We don’t have one CTO because we have many!

Once we hired our team, training them in the latest technology was a big challenge.

Of course, you can learn anything on Google, but you will not have anyone there to personally guide you from their experience.

For example, you learn coding on Google and write this elaborate code which could cause problem when 12000 users are there on your app. Now, nobody will tell you that a poorly written code can increase your customer AWS bill up to 5 times.

How we build our tech team: Crazy idea, you should try yourself!

Aditi came up with a nice idea, again.

She said “We cannot afford one CTO for full time but what if we can afford many CTOs for 1 hour each.” Sounds crazy, eh?

We started speaking to the best of CTOs and tech experts. We asked them to mentor our team for 1 hour daily. They have to guide our team to manage projects, solve problems and make them better techies.

9/10 agreed! Now we had 10 CTOs guiding our team. My team members acquired great learnings.

Learning from CTOs helped them to become better Engineers.

Most of our team members single handedly built the entire products.

On the top of all, they also helped our Entrepreneur clients with better suggestions of features for their products. Some of the startup products developed by us got funded and selected in esteemed Y-Combinator.

Clients hire their own team: we help them in hiring, knowledge transfer, understanding the code.

Yesterday, one of the companies hired 7 years experience guy to manage their product and team. He consulted our 6 month experienced guy on how he has written and managed API document so beautifully. We were doing things manually.

You can’t move a tree by blowing at it softly once the roots spread. But you can radically change where a seed will land by doing the same.

In addition EngineerBabu Help startups, enterprises, and owners to grow their business by building high class IT solutions. 95% of projects developed by them were completed on-time. 30+ funded by VCs, Win most innovative Premier Design Award, selected in Y-Combinator 2016 & 2017.

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