How to build a strong tech company at different stages of the business

31st Oct 2015
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To build tech for a billion, it's imperative that tech organisations understand the changes that needto be made at each stage in the organisation. At TechSparks 2015, Mohit Saxena, CTO, InMobi gave insights, on how his company evolved at every stage.

Mohit Saxena
Mohit Saxena

Zero to 1 stage

This is the most important stage in an organisation. According to Mohit,what plays a key role here is not the idea of building a business but hiring.

Hiring is all blood, guts and glory. 

Hiring makes all the difference to an organisation. “Many founders look for a set skill in an individual, but at this stage, what you need is a hustler," Mohit says.

In the beginning,you're unsure where you are headed. You can't keep hiring or firing. The set of engineers you hire in the beginning is the most important team. They need to be nimble and quick and should be able to grow. "The crucial hiring right at the beginning is on the founders'shoulders," adds Mohit.

KISSER - Keep It Simple, Stupid, Efficient and Real

 It is very important keep things as simple as possible. Mohit cites the example of NASA spending $10 million on a pen that writes in space and the Russians using a pencil instead. As a founder and CTO, you need to keep pushing the team to think simple and keep things frugal at this stage. "If something can be done with 30 lines of codes, you don't have to write 300 for it," he says.

Beg, borrow and steal

There isn't a need to reinvent the wheel. "You don't need to spend dollars in buying servers and software; if there is something already available, use it,"Mohit says. Every penny you have needs to be spent in hiring the right team. Having good engineers at this stage gives you wings, Mohit says.

Try out new technology

If you don't play in the zero-to one stage, then it won't help in the later stages. As there is not much to lose in the early stage, Mohit says it's important to experiment, be nimble and try new things.

Idea, speed and execution

While you can come with an idea and sit on it, you may possibly go nowhere, as opposed to you taking an idea, building on it and putting it out. "The worst thing that could happen is you could fail. Failures are your best mentors. You can always understand what went wrong and then go back and fix it," says Mohit.

One to 1,000,000 stage

This stage is different, and you have to start playing by a different set of rules. Aspirations are different and now you need to begin thinking big, says Mohit.

Go global

"We are an Indian-born company and are proud of it, but we are a global organisation and compete with global players," says Mohit. Tech companies have this advantage. They can launch product and technology anywhere in the world.

Fail fast

Mohit advises, “Don't worry about writing wrong codes; failing now means getting the operational experience needed as you continue reaching the billion stage.”

Hire for deep skill

"You've already got the hustler. Now is the time to look for someone with deep skills and is an expert. At the same time, they need to be young and passionate," Mohit says.

Start evaluating 'build vs. buy'

It is important to be pragmatic and see if there are technologies you can buy at a reasonable cost,as building a product may sometimes take longer.

Start building your core platform 

This is the time to figure out the core fundamental platform that powers your organisation. "It will be the driver on which other products are built on," adds Mohit.

 1,000,00 to billion stage

Now you need to align your plans according to the competition you will face from bigger global giants.

Revisit architecture- be brutal

 "I know engineers love their architecture, but most technology now doesn't last beyond six months," says Mohit. It is therefore important to cull out that which isn't relevant anymore as there is no space for outdated systems and architecture.

Break legacy systems that slow you down

Mohit says that as companies grow bigger, legacies are built. "Many people think it doesn't make sense to change legacies but it's a painful process. But do take that pain and make those changes," says Mohit. As these things slow down and makes the organisation look bad, inertia, Mohit adds, has no place in a tech company.

Keep innovation going

Even if your organisation growsby 300 to 400 people, keep the innovation going. There always is a better way of doing things.

Build as a tech brand

"Good engineers like working only with good engineers," says Mohit.

A big shoutout to TechSparks 2015 sponsors – Sequoia Capital, ICICI Bank, Money on Mobile, Microsoft, Signal Hill, IBM Bluemix, PwC, Atom Tech, Teamchat, Govt. of Karnataka, Intel, Rabbler, Dailyhunt, Reverie, Loginext and PayUBiz; Partners – Duff&Phelps, Taxmantra, Dineout, Exotel, 360ride, Yoga Bar, Chai Point, GWC; and our Media Partners – TV9, Fortune India, RedFM and Deccan Herald.

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