Author | Pankaj Kulshreshtha
Jo is a really smart senior engineer with solid academic pedigree in Computer Science. She was working with a new age “hot” highly funded company in the Big Data space. After several rounds of deep interviews with Jo, we were ready to make her an offer. She was going to be our second lead engineer - we had pulled together a very competitive cash compensation and also had loaded stocks suitable for a lead at an early stage startup. I was excitedly waiting to meet her and make the offer at our newly minted office that looked like this that morning:
Jo came in, looked around and her expression gradually changed from excited and anticipatory to someone who had just seen a ghost! It took me a few seconds to realize that an epiphany had struck Jo!
Some background before we go further into the story. This was January 2015, just a few months into our startup journey. We were a team of 7-8 folks and had just come out of an incubator and moved into our own office a couple of weeks earlier. As chance would have it, everyone else that fateful day was travelling for work or was out for some reason or other. Jo found me all alone at the office, and here is what I reckon ran through her mind:
“These guys are a total con job! They probably had professional actors do the interviews. This will be too much of risk to take”
Obviously, she gave me a very tentative feel while I was under impression that all the ducks were lined up and this was going be a mere formality. We didn’t hear from her again!
Fast forward about two and half years, Jo reaches out again. She has changed two jobs in the interim, still working with a large reputable company. But her heart wants to pursue a job that helps her develop deep machine learning capability and she thinks she can find that with Scienaptic. She came to meet us last week. Here is how the office looks like now (and there are another two floors like this!)
It may now be hard to fit her in our Engineering team of about 20 that has several senior engineers. So, while we work through and explore a match, one thing is certain - She now has a narrower scope and choices. And she has missed the significant wealth creating opportunity that comes to early joiners.
We are living in times of unprecedented technological change and that change is accelerating. Also, because of a higher level of welfare, we have many more and somewhat difficult choices to make about careers and life in general. At Scienaptic, we are fortunate to have found a tail wind of interest in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. We are working with large organizations and helping them solve real problems with our technology and expertise. We have built out a solid team - one that if anything, packs in a punch, a lot more than the weight of a small startup. I believe we have a real shot at being one of those handful of companies that will be known to have made ML / AI real and impactful in organizations over the next 5-7 years. We take a moral high ground on writing software that not only advances the ML capability but also finds a way to augment human intelligence and decision making capability by connecting computational intelligence in a seamless manner. So, if we play out the story another 5-7 years, think about the number of offices, people, awards and valuations ... anyone from our team of first 100 folks would be living the dream!
Bright and motivated people like Jo will eventually find their dream or so I hope, but the opportunity to make a whole-hearted bet on a startup like ours can create serious learning and wealth creation opportunities. You just have to play “long”.
At the ground level, we are on-boarding exciting clients and seeing fantastic traction. We are also bringing in a few more leaders, all of whom I believe are admirable people that bring new strengths to Scienaptic. The team will continue working with passion and rigour and this rigour will be critical to our success as we start scaling our little startup.