[Techie Tuesdays] Yousuf Fauzan's love affair with math, programming and applications (Lots of them)
When Yousuf first approached us, it was to feature his product, CodeBunk. It is a unified platform which aids the interview process. It consisting of a collaborative real-time editor, code compiler and audio / video chat tools. Now when Yousuf said that he built this thing, we were more interested to the guy; after all, it sounded very similar to InterviewStreet and HackerEarth and both these companies have phenomenal engineers.
So after a few calls with him, I slowly began to unearth all of his past exploits, which includes a system that can send SMSs to a computer and a tool that helps record your journey between two places using the video camera on Google Car. He also built the chat application at Shaadi.com.
Meet Yousuf Fauzan, a DGM at Shaadi.com, but much, much more.
An Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture who codes
Yousuf shared that he always had a great appreciation for Math. Like most coders whom we've featured in this column, he started coding at a young age. He says, " It started in school where we were taught C++. I used to like math a lot and programming seemed like applied math to me, so it became an instant favourite. I got my first computer during my first year of engineering. Till then, I used to program in the computer lab at school." However, at college, he did something completely different, "My stream was Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. It was as far removed from Programming as possible."
But it was at the same college, where he went on to do the first significant piece of programming work. "I always tinkered with programming, building small stuff, but my Btech thesis was the first significant project that I worked on. It required solving a partial differential equation using Genetic Algorithms in Matlab and C++. It was a lot of fun," he shared.
Hacker by day, hacker by night
Despite his degree, Yousuf started his career as a computer programmer at Epoch Technologies. After a few stints are various other technology and business firms, he found his home at People Interactive, which is better known to the world, as Shaadi.com. Befitting of his nature, he ovesees the emerging technologies department. If you've ever chatted with anyone on Shaadi.com, you've used Yousuf's work. He says, "As part of my day-job building the chat application was one of the coolest projects that I worked on."
But it is his work outside of his day job, which is very interesting and diverse. His latest hack is Codebunk - "I interviewed for a couple of firms online and felt a lot of friction in the process. CodeBunk came out of this frustration. It has a Collaborative Editor, Compiler/Interpreter for 8 languages, and Audio/Video Chat." He further shared that the product has been very well received by its users - "CodeBunk has more than 5k likes on Facebook and a high percentage of engaged users in less than 3 months. This surprised me, as I am an atrocious marketer," he further added.
Another application that he worked on was Texetra, which helps people send and receive SMSs from a computer - "Texetra came about because I wanted to send SMSs using my computer; not because I felt a need for it, but because I thought it would be cool. It was only after I launched it that I came to know about funded companies doing what Texetra was doing. Texetra was very well received and is used by many users quite regularly."
So many people coding for a living, so few hackers
Yousuf loves trying out new technologies; it is also what he detests about technology. He says, "The paucity of time is my biggest problem with technology. The rate at which new and cool tech is coming in is way more than the time one could allot to even know about them. You are a kid in a candy store with more and more trucks pulling in every second with different kinds of candies. How do you choose which one to taste?"
He believes that India doesn't have enough experimenting, lazy hackers who aren't afraid of making mistakes. He says, " A hacker does not learn from other people's mistakes and prefers to commit his/her own blunders. I think coders are experimenting enough. We just have a lot of people who code for a living."
As a solution and a parting note, he says, "I don’t think I am qualified to give any advice, but if I must, I would say that one should not follow the herd. Do what you like, pressure from family and friends notwithstanding. It could be anything, as long as you really like doing it. Its a bit of a cliche but it’s something I have tried to follow."
Well, it sure has given him great results.