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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

OT: On Working Alone

Monday, December 22, 2008

One of the most frequently asked questions, in all the startup and entrepreneurship forums, is can you do it alone? Is it good? Lately a lot of attention is being paid to single person run ventures, eg Balsamiq and Twitpic. Its the new happening thing in town. Here's what I have to say about it.

I've been working out of my living room for the past 8 months. We closed down our office this March and Call Graph is a result of the security deposit that was left over. And it hasnt been that much of a bad experience at all. In fact, I'm loving it. Anna Sambar (rice and curry, the staple food of all the autowallas in Bangalore) has grown on me. For 12 bucks, its a great deal. I hated giving up Ultra Milds. But Gold Flake small is more nicotine at lesser price. And Old Monk! Need I say anything about it? Its been my favorite for a long time. Sadly this years budget meant that a quarter was two bucks dearer at Rs 40. Add to that the bills for rent and internet connection and it pretty much covers the essentials. Monthly cost comes to around 20 K. Not bad for Bangalore I would say.

On top of that, I've cut down on traveling. No MoMo's, no TiE's, no nothing. Not even the weekend late nighters with friends, much to their annoyance. Obviously I dont have a girlfriend and that helps too. If I ever have to head out, I take the bus. In Bangalore its a time sink. You never know how long its going to take. So I try to avoid going out as much as possible. Which of course means that my face to face interactions, the human touch quotient, has gone down drastically. Not a bad thing again, since I'm a born loner. I can live and work alone for extended periods of time.

The best thing about working alone though is the independence. You are pretty much free to do whatever you like. Nobody to convince, nobody breathing down your neck, no wasting of time. Thought of a kick ass feature? Get to work on it instantly. Works great if you happen to be the kind of person who's right most of the time. I happen to think I am. But you never know :). Yeah, I have messed up things once in a while. Big time in few cases.

So is it tough? You bet it is. There are highs and lows. Both the times you wish had someone to share it with. Plus software, by its nature, is a team game. You just cannot write great software alone. Or develop a technology alone. I hope that one day I can assemble a team around CG. The technology involved, spoken audio search, is really complex. And it will need a great team to pull off. That will take its own sweet time I guess.

The only question is, why keep doing it? We'll for starters, I have few paid customers and it kind of covers my costs. I'm not losing any money, if not making some. No harm in doing it I guess. Plus I am definitely having the best time of my life. No question about that. I've never loved my work so much. Never ever in those 8 years in the industry. That means something I guess. Also I have high hopes for the technology since its an unsolved problem out there. The best part however is, its not over yet. There's a lot of work left on CG. Remains to be seen whether I can make it or not. But for the time being, I'm enjoying every bit of it.

So there you have it. Startups are tough. Micro ISV's are the toughest. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Get a team. Its much better and healthier. It should always be the last option, the nuke option, if an option at all.
posted by Rajiv, 5:09 AM | link | 31 comments |