[Techie Tuesdays] Badrinath Kulkarni - The Android flag bearer from Dharwad behind Redbus and Flatchat appAditya Bhushan Dwivedi
If you’re an Android developer living in Bangalore, there is a very high probability that you’d know Badrinath Kulkarni. He is our 100th addition to Techie Tuesday. Badrinath is the co-founder of Bangalore Android User Group and GDG Bangalore. An ardent chess enthusiast who aims to get a FIDE rating in the near future.
Badri, as he’s known, spent his childhood in Dharwad.His father is a government employee and mother, a homemaker. Unlike most people, Badri never had much interest in technology. Most people in his family were inclined towards chess, and this got to him as well. He learned to play chess when he was just six years old. Even today, whenever the entire family would get together, there was sure to be a chess tournament.
The first time Badri interacted with a computer was at his friend’s house. He was more fascinated with games like Dangerous Dave. For him, it was more of a love of screen, be it TV video games or a handheld Brick game player. After his PUC, he took his CET exam, and was accepted into the SDM College of Engineering and Technology, Dharwad.
A tryst with assembly
Though he read electronics and communication in college, Badri gained a serious interest in programming in his second semester. He’d begun to develop a strong aptitude for it, too. He also started taking a computer course outside his curriculum to speed up his learning. This was when he got his first PC, which was mostly utilised for playing IGI 2. In his sixth semester, when he studied 8086 processor programming, Badri wrote a game in assembly language. It was a variant of the marble game Brainvita. His professor was extremely happy, and said, "This is the best gift I've ever received from a student."
The Infosys journey
After college, Badri was placed at Infosys, where he worked for the next three and half years. He went on to join the first batch of Infosys employees to be trained in mainframes in Bangalore. However, his frustration grew day by day with working on it, desperately making him want to move out. During this time, his interest in Java piqued. He called up a friend in Pune, whom he always consulted for advice. It helped clear things up for him.
The project Badri was working on required him to copy data from one application to an Excel file cell by cell, and report his progress on a weekly basis. He wrote a script for the task instead, which allowed him to accomplish the job in one afternoon. He’d then spend the next four days reading about and learning Java. At the end of his project, he was asked by his project manager to take up another mainframes project, but Badri emphatically declined. This did not go well with his project manager, and Badri was put on bench. He had nothing to do; but soon enough there was a requirement for a Java programmer. This time the Project Manager was kind enough to give this opportunity to him.
Later, Badri worked with Amit Patni, a senior architect at Infosys who had a cult status. Badri was fortunate to be working under his wing, where he learnt immensely. Android was coming up during these days, and everywhere people were talking about it, so he started looking at resources to learn it. He attended a meet-up organized by Google Technology User Group (GTUG), where he met Akshay, who had an idea of starting a community around Android. Both of them worked together to start the Bangalore Android User Group (BAUG). Over time, BAUG got big enough for Google to start supporting it.
Badri's passion towards Android grew every day. He decided to quit Infosys to work exclusively on it. Meanwhile, Infosys had initiated the H1B visa process for him. Badri now had two options: to choose between the ‘American Dream’ and Android. He chose the latter, and quit Infosys.
But life after Infosys wasn't easy. Badri appeared for numerous job interviews, but was unable to clear them. Finally, he got his break with a subsidiary of World Link. Badri now had his dream job of building Android apps for a US-based client.
For two years Badri worked with World Link until he began looking for new opportunities. He got to know about an opening at Redbus, for an Android developer, and applied. After numerous interviews, he was hired to develop Redbus’ Android app. He feels fortunate to have worked with people like Alok, Satish & Mahendar at Redbus as he learnt a lot from them.
Redbus to Flat.to to Inmobi
After successfully building the Redbus app, Badri quit his job to experiment with starting up. He got together with a school friend, Chidamber Kulkarni, and dabbled with a few ideas. However, things didn't move as expected and their savings were running out very fast, and Badri had to look for a job. He applied at various companies, including Flipkart and Inmobi, but was disappointed with the outcome. Finally, he met Gaurav Munjal, and interviewed with Flat.to. Gaurav asked him to build an app as an assignment, which Badri executed perfectly. At this time, he also had another offer, but decided to go for Flat.to.
Once again the magician was with his wand. This time, the responsibility was to build the Flatchat Android app from scratch, which he did with perfection from ground up. He says, "Flatchat is a great company consisting of great people. I just loved working with them. Attention to design, tech and details about every aspect of the product was something great that I learned at Flatchat." One day, while having dinner, Badri’s friend informed him of an opening at Inmobi. She asked Badri to apply. Today, Badri is a technology lead at Inmobi.
After working on Android for all these years, Badri says he still has a lot to learn when it comes to technology and Android. Every six months something new comes up, so there’s never a still moment. Even after we finished speaking with him, the humble Badri insisted he was still not the right candidate for Techie Tuesdays. He remembers watching a movie with his friends at a theatre. At one point, the character says the dialogue: “Tumhe Zindgi se kya chahiye?” Badri suddenly stood up and shouted: 'HI SPEED INTERNET!’ The entire hall whistled and cheered for him. Since then, it’s become a running joke between his friends. That’s Badrinath Kulkarni for you!