"No company has a culture; every company is a culture. A startup is a team of people on a mission, and a good culture is what that looks like on the inside"
~Peter Thiel (PayPal, Palantir, Facebook)
May 1st, 2021.
"Back to pavilion", I breathed as the flight descended from a crimson sky onto the amber streets of Mumbai. The last 10 days had been spine-breaking. And I topped it off with my classic stupid-bold move of missing a ₹4k flight to Mumbai.
I called up Nikhil Bhaiya and started discussing a side-project that I was really interested in working in, a simple community-managed platform for covid resource and treatment updates. Aman Bhaiya is right, just talking to Nikhil Bhaiya, exposes you to a world of crazy industry-grade software hacks and applications. "Project Mohit" I called it, after the company that manufactured the screws we used for wall-hangings and shelves at farm house
We talked this idea over a couple of times and come holidays, I'm going to start converting this concept into code.
"Healing doesn't mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives"
For a while, things did seem really stagnant since everyone was barely clinging onto supporting their families and healing from the affliction.
Kaishu Bhaiya recovered and returned. He had to lot of time alone in farm house as no one was around for the first few weeks of May. He wouldn't admit it, but the loneliness did get to the restless Hacker. Nikhil Bhaiya was recovering from his illness. Extended calls and nostalgic thoughts ensued as the 3 of us tried to fit into a remote-work pattern.
Aman Bhaiya was yet shuttling around to stabilize health conditions in his family. Maadhu Bhaiya was doing the same. Ankita Didi too. Everyone needed time off to recuperate and from all that we'd been through.
I was back to the same balcony, the helm of my journey in software development,. I'd spend most of my days iterating on Project Mohit, discussing it over and over with friends and the team coming up with tech-stack and design solutions for the same. The founders and Ankita Didi did come help with it whenever they found the time. Work came as a relief and escapade these days to all of us
A lot of things, as usual blew out of control. Product shipping was paused, my academics were compromised, the racecar work I was interested in had to be adjourned. I'd bundled up a lot of what Nikhil Bhaiya calls - "cognitive load", I was having trouble working, thinking clearly, communicating with my family, friends followed by a weird showdown with one of my closest friends on 7th May. Amongst this crescendo, the last one stung the most. Somedays, I just felt like going back to being a carefree college student.
Optimism and ambition were really facing the test of time.
Work from home
"Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you're not moving fast enough"
~Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Momentum and growth its lifeblood. The gear cannot stop cranking. That's the fun thing about Kaishu Bhaiya, he takes on projects that seem way too outlandish and starts hammering away at it.
A new system of growth was brainstormed. We were going after the medical labs as our first customers. And for them, a preposterously difficult, unchartered software had to be built - a Google Chrome extension to integrate our existing SMTP system with Gmail interface, powered with Algolia search. I volunteered for the project just out of escaping most things I stressed about. The irony ? I tunneled further into the rabbit hole, I was trying to crawl out from.
"Do things that don't scale"
~Paul Graham (Y Combinator, VistaWeb)
Just to lay some groundwork, we were trying to override Google's code for Gmail with our own UI. We kept shipping really cheap hacks and workarounds to this entire concept. No matter how far fetched and dubious it seemed, we kept gnawing. For the first time, I witnessed the classic "it-won't-work !" to "how-brilliant-is-this?" journey of a product.
This was particularly hard since we were not prepared for the snail-like progress and distraught communication gaps this work-from-home routine brought. I also recall messing up the codebase's version control so many times that almost after each contribution, I'd anticipate a "What did you do now🤦😂 ? " from Nikhil Bhaiya.
I'd burn my eyes out trying to find crevices I could inject our custom UI into from the frontend while Nikhil and Kaishu Bhaiya moulded the backend. Slow and steady. But a step forward with each version.
As I write this blog 35 days post the inception of the idea, Kaishu Bhaiya and Maadhu Bhaiya are on their way, onboarding the first lab with a "Collison installation" (aka "give-me-your-computer-and-I'll-install-it"-setup) of this extension, while we cross our fingers to get it approved on the Chrome store from Google.
Crazy idea to crazier hope to downright-fanatical relentlessness to amazing product. Pretty friggin amazing....right ? Welcome to working at Farmako.
"If you ever take your foot of the gas pedal, things will spiral out of control, snowball downwards."
Around this time, Saksham Kashyap joined as a Graphics and Motion Designer. He's a wizard is all I'll say. Everything from brainstorming a concept, to thinking of a layout detailed to the most intricate implementations of font, color and padding, to breathing life and motion into the illustration, the 23 year old, tattooed architect nails it on point.
I had a blast learning from him as we ideated on initial versions of the lab brochure, certificate, greeting card and a lot other things. Once Ankita Didi, got freed from her other commitments, the 3 of us would kick back over calls where I'd help them design and they'd help me test and design the UI of the Chrome extension. We'd laugh over wild stories about their college life and forget that we were quite literally 1000s of miles apart.
The result of this ? - a steady creation of staggering products on all frontiers of Farmako. Anything missing yet ? Someone to effectively share this with the outside world.
Enter Avinash Ranjan (Head of Growth, Farmako) : the suave businessman with the perfect sense of style, marketing knowhows, compelling communication skills and powerful network that Farmako needed to share our vision with everyone. The 25 year old had dabbled with more businesses across multiple nations than most people I know. The admirable thing about him were his humility, respectfulness, and ideas to connect with people.
He joined on 21st May, 2021. By, 26th May, he closed a partnership deal with the first lab out of our circle of influence, recruited 2 interns and laid out the growth plan for June. Talk about a rocket taking off.
Aman Bhaiya was also back on track since 15th May, holding meetings, tracking progress, hiring talent, designing products and innumerable other tasks which the "Hackist" would get solved before we even hit the problem.
Maadhu Bhaiya put the pedal to the metal on the Operations edge. We were churning out cold emails, designing goodies, brochures, hoardings, greeting cards and beta testing and planning production and distribution for the same. He too recruited an intern to share burden of the logistics overhaul.
By 31st May, farm house started reclaiming the buzz of talent and products it had once housed. A lot of the team members starting unpacking and settling into the company. It feels as if lost glory has found its way back home.
"I'm in this for the long haul so come hell or high water, I'm gonna make it work"
~Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX, PayPal, SolarCity)
Just a day back, Kaishu Bhaiya received a thank-you text expressing love for the service.
The idea is starting to grow. So are we. Hardik turned 20 and Ankita Didi, 24. Late-night standups, stupid jokes, Aman Bhaiya's constantly mocking everyone (kept in check by Nikhil Bhaiya), Kaishu Bhaiya's magnanimous dare, Hardik's soulful writings and hopeless earphones, Maadhu Bhaiya's clear laugh and nostalgic shares, Saksham Bhaiya's internet issues, Ankita Didi's wild stories and Avinash Bhaiya waking up to chuckle at such craziness are some moments that'll be cherished with this story.
This saga is only intensifying as a team of 13 marches towards the 1 core belief, that the centre portait of farm house captures beautifully in 4 words.