[Techie Tuesday] Meet Erad Fridman, an early product developer at Google who started coding when he was six

In this week’s Techie Tuesday, we feature Erad Fridman who was one of the early developers at Google and now is the CEO of the product development company, Fluxon.
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When Erad Fridman started working at Google in 2007, the company was in a period of rapid growth. Working on many of the tech giant’s foundational systems, Erad’s team developed and managed global Business Intelligence and automation systems that supported millions of advertisers and partners.

Today, as the CEO of San Francisco based product development company — Fluxon, Erad strongly believes that it is important to learn continuously. 

“Working across several different sectors and industries — from finance to aerospace, I have been able to appreciate the common patterns in product development, regardless of the industry or field. On top of that, I discovered that what’s most important to me are the people and friends I work with. Impact and success are the byproducts of doing work you love, and with people you love. For that reason, I teamed up with some of my friends and former colleagues from Google to found Fluxon,” Erad tells YourStory

Early days of Google.

Erad’s first computer 

Erad’s journey into engineering and technology started when he was six. His mother had brought home a computer from work. Recollecting his initial days with the computer, Erad says, 

“It had an Intel 8088 chip (which chips in a microwave or washing machine today would put it to shame), a monochromatic green screen, and a magnificent 16Kb of RAM. It also came with a book on how to code in GWBasic. I don’t recall my mom ever using that computer, but I was completely fascinated by it. I started following the coding book when I got home from school. Back then, I didn’t know English to understand what the words meant (if, for, goto), but I could understand what they made the computer do and it was magical.”

Over the next few years, Erad got more interested in the world of coding. He entered coding competitions including Assembly 4k and Computer Science Olympiad, and learned about networks through BBS, and later the internet.

“From those early days until now, I have never stopped coding. Today, I’m proud to work alongside many engineers who more talented than me, so I reserve my coding for building mini robots with Arduino and Raspberry pi,” says Erad. 

A different kind of education 

School, however, was a bit strange for Erad. In subjects like Mathematics and Physics, he noticed that most of the work was based on memorising formulas and repeating the same type of problems. 

“My parents saw that I wasn’t very interested in the classwork, and found a university that allowed younger students to take classes there. To my surprise, I really enjoyed these classes. The problems were deeper and more challenging, and I could learn more from others who shared my passion. One of my university teachers saw my interest and became my mentor. He taught me about the mathematics of infinity and signed me up for math competitions. By 19, I completed my degrees in computer science and mathematics,” says Erad. 

For his graduation, Erad knew he wanted to explore new areas. So, in 200,1 he relocated to the US to study at Boston College, where he earned dual masters degrees in Finance and Business Administration.

“As my engineering skills improved, so did my fascination with technology. I was amazed by the amount of problems that could be solved much quicker with software than by a human being,” says Erad.

For example, he liked to play chess so he developed a program that could play chess with much more skill than he could. 

Math homework was the same: challenges like charting graphs were resolved much faster with coding. 

“I couldn’t articulate it as well back then, but I felt that the new world of technology was a force-multiplier that could solve all kinds of interesting problems. And with our time being so limited, the ability to tell computers how to ‘do it for you’ seemed like a completely necessary skill to me. From then on, whenever I was presented with a problem, I would ask myself, “Is it better to get a fish or teach the computer how to fish?” he explains. 

Starting early 

While Erad had started coding when he was six, he was 16 when he got his first job as a software engineer for a telecom company. Their VP of Operations was looking for tools to help him keep track of projects, equipment, and resources. 

“His own engineering team was mostly dealing with hardware, and my dad convinced him to let me take on the challenge. Over the course of a summer, I developed a system for use across the company Ops team. It was the first time I’d used the coding skills I had learned for a business purpose. I learned that even a small team of engineers (in this case, a team of one) can create a big impact with the magnifying effect of software, and that complex problems could have very simple solutions with the help of technology. I also observed that levels, titles and age don’t matter much when it comes to creating that impact — a philosophy that has shaped how I think about our team today,” says Erad. 

He went to work with Geode Capital until 2007, after which he joined Planet.com as the VP of Product. 

Erad built Planet’s product management team, and launched their first commercial product, which enabled people to browse satellite imagery in real-time and observe changes across the globe. He went on to be the CPO of IndigoBank in San Francisco for a year before starting Fluxon in 2017. 

Building Fluxon

“We wanted to create great software products together. Pretty soon after we took on our first client, people started reaching out to us with ideas for products that they needed to be built. More and more great people joined our team. As demand skyrocketed, it quickly became clear that there was a huge gap across the industry for full-service product development. Today, we’re a global team with offices in the US, Canada, India, and Ukraine,” says Erad. 

Fluxon has built and launched software products for companies including Google, Stripe, Zapier, and many more. It offers customers an alternative to the time-intensive process of hiring an in-house team to build their product, or taking focus away from their existing technical team. 

“Our full-stack expertise across engineering, product management and design means we can quickly identify the unique needs of each product and deploy the right team to deliver a product to launch. We reduce our customers' time to market so they can gain user feedback to iterate faster. As well as the work we do with our clients, we also build our own products. One of these is Dory, a real-time Q&A app for virtual events that is used by companies around the world,” he explains. 

A key challenge the team faced was meeting the demand for its services. The team started operations in India in 2019, impressed by its strong technical talent, schools, and the growing startup culture. 

Today, Fluxon considers India as a key market for hiring, with the team working on projects the world over. They increased the team size significantly and will be opening two new offices in Hyderabad and Bengaluru in 2022.

“We have a long waitlist and have to be selective with the companies we take on. We are fortunate that all this demand has been driven by word-of-mouth referrals from our customers, and we haven’t needed a sales team. Our key priority now is growing the team, while maintaining the quality we have become known for across the industry, and the unique culture our current employees enjoy. We strive to hire the top technical talent in the world, and we’re doing everything we can to make that possible,” says Erad. 

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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