[Techie Tuesdays] The coder who is bringing the non-tech world into the folds of technology
Saket Bhushan believes in doing things quickly. He is the Founder of Sosio, a community management platform for non-profits. Saket believes in rapid prototyping and agile processes.
His grandfather had a profound impact on his early days and learning. His grandfather, who was an engineer by profession, took deep interest in his upbringing thereby inculcating an enquiring mind in the young boy. He taught him how things work and different phenomena relating to every day science.
His mother was a lawyer by profession and father was also in the judicial service in Bihar. Not being able to get the attention of his busy parents (when he was in the second standard), Saket asked his mother to quit her job so he could get more of her time, and she happily agreed. Things might have been different had it not been for his mother, as Saket says she influenced him a great deal.
He was exposed to computers in school and started programming. Though he started with LOGO, Saket caught up with C++ quickly, and programmed a software for an air ticketing system. Such was his interest in coding that he would utilize whatever little spare time he had in discussing the possibilities of what a computer can do with his friends. His curiosity with programming was with loops, which can do the same thing again and again, thereby reducing effort significantly. And before it was over, Saket was programming full time.
However, things were dull until he joined college. It was in college that he got his first laptop, and could not part with it. Saket says,
When I got my laptop, I did not sleep for four continuous nights and bunked all the classes.
Soon his interest in programming peaked, along with a growing interest in Mechanics. To make sure he got the best of both worlds, Saket took up a course in Computational Mechanics and even published a couple of papers on it. He also wrote over 20,000 lines of code for algorithm optimization on Finite Element Method for differential equations.
During this time, Saket became curious about the open source movement. He started bunking classes and immersed himself in learning the open source philosophy. He read about the lives of open source legends like Richard Stallman (RMS) and Eric Raymond. This was something which would change the course of his life forever. In 2011, Saket met Richard Stallman at an event organized by Swecha (an Andhra Pradesh based organization which promotes open source philosophy).
Saket asked Stallman, "How do I get better at programming?"
Read a lot of code, write a lot of code," and then added, "Simple is not the opposite of hard, it’s the opposite of complex.
After his college, Saket did a couple of stints at different corporates, but it didn't suit his nature (we don't blame him for that). He quit within two years and started MySharePlex. MySharePlex came out of a personal pain. Saket was moving from Hyderabad to Chennai, and he wanted to get rid of his belongings. He thought of OLX/Quikr but didn't know whether he could trust the people on the other side. This led to the birth of MySharePlex, a platform that supports donation in kind and promotes sharing economy.
It took him two months to code the entire platform from scratch. And the platform took off really well. It had over 500 users in three months. Saket says, "During the day, I was the pickup-and-delivery boy and during the night I would code. I did this for about six months." However, since there was no revenue model, no investors came on board and he had to pivot towards building something which would pay.
While building MySharePlex, Saket met a lot of NGOs and one of the chief concerns he came across was community management. So Saket went on to solve that problem, and surprisingly within one month they went from concept to revenue. His new startup, Sosio, was accepted at CIIE in IIMA.
"Some organizations use solutions that seem to focus on the premise of turning their staff into manual ‘data-entry-monkeys’, or in a few cases, they will altogether outsource the job to some third party, which, in turn, will charge them a lot. None of them showed any understanding whatsoever of how they could leverage social media, email marketing, efficient task management, donation acceptance and other such issues in their job and daily workflow," says Saket. And this is what Sosio is trying to solve with its platform.
In his free time, Saket teaches python to students in colleges. He believes in spreading knowledge for free. At present, Saket is working on a concept to bring MOOCs and professors together. Says Saket,
See, the problem is that universities struggle to get quality professors. Students don't get placements. Startups don't get techies. The solution lies in tying together MOOCs and university teaching work force. If this model is accepted, students will have knowledge, and placements. Startups will get techies, and universities won't have to struggle to get quality professors.
For people who are looking to make it big in the world of tech, Saket repeats Stallman's advice, "Read a lot of code, and write a lot of code."