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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


thanks for sharing your experience .it's very inspiring . Good luck and Have fun !!

@prashant thanks dude. :)
Said Blogger Rajiv, 7:02 AM  

Hi Rajiv, nice writeup!
I liked the line... "I have no girlfriend...".

I have been working alone from the past two years and I too agree its not an easy thing to do... software is really a team play when we want to develop a new technology...

anyways I wish you good luck!
Said Anonymous Chandra, 7:16 AM  

@chandra. hey.. good to see your comment. thanks.

that line fortunately or unfortunately is true. i have distant memories of having one. so distant that its fading out now :)
Said Blogger Rajiv, 7:52 AM  

That line is FORTUNATELY true.

here, fix that for you

@prashant thank you once again. looks like you're not over it yet :)
Said Blogger Rajiv, 8:04 AM  

I don't know for sure . I am counting on http://tinyurl.com/93fnlp

ok. you are definitely not over it. :)
Said Blogger Rajiv, 8:38 AM  

Make sure you keep doing excercise, no gym but daily vigrous walk.

Its would help you keep active while you are so engrossed working alone day night on your product.

I have been through this before.
Said Anonymous Ruchit, 8:56 AM  

@ruchit yeah. used to do some cycling earlier. now thinking of starting that 5K running program.

Said Blogger Rajiv, 9:14 AM  

Wow great post! I have thought about how this would be a few times, you described it well.

I agree however, that its a great ride to do it with somebody ...

@jivitesh thanks for reading. team is definitely the way to go.
Said Blogger Rajiv, 3:20 AM  

hey Rajiv,
Was wondering what happened to you and this post clarifies it all.

Hope this new year turns to be much more successfull.
Said Blogger Ramjee, 2:08 AM  

Hang in there, you are not alone!
Said Blogger Jayesh, 12:12 PM  

congrats rajiv..... 600 followers on twitter! I rmbr when last year you said I was popular when I had a paltry 200 odd :) looking forward for cg to touch 999 soon.

Hope you are also sharing some of your happiness around with lesser happy folks around :))
Said Anonymous Deeps, 9:51 PM  

You rock man! You are software industry answer to MJ (not very politically correct reference these days ;)).

Saw on comments you are planning to start running. I followed this couch to 5K recently. Was fun. You can see some of my notes at

Said Blogger Rishi, 6:50 AM  

@rishi.. cool stuff dude. i gotta start. have to tell that to myself 10 times every day now.
Said Blogger Rajiv, 7:12 AM  

Hi all,

I am working for a software integrator company. My projects includes working on Java and Ruby on Rails and Ajax. I think Web Services is really cool. We also recently have to now work on REST and they are talking about mashups and Struts. Can anyone tell me if there are some good training or conferences so that me and my team members can get to speed with these technologies. Learning from books is not my cup of tea, even not when I was doing engineering ;)

All the help that group members can provide in this regard is much appreciated.

Said Anonymous Anonymous, 1:57 AM  

Hi Vaibhavi,

There are several online resources available that you just google for. If any of your team like to read then quality books from wiley and oreilly cover such technologies in detail.

I also highly recommend you could attend the upcoming Great Indian Developer Summit (http://www.developersummit.com) that is covering Java, Agile, REST, JAX-RS, mashups, .NET, Rich Web, JPA, SOA, rich user experiences, Spring, Groovy and more. They have most of the creators of these technologies as speakers. My team is attending this summit 22-25 apr at IISc campus where we are attending the web conference on April 23 and java on April 24. We have been able to get very good discounts. Maybe all those who are interested from your group can sign up together and get a good bargain from them. what say? I also attended last year's conference and had a really cool time.

In Hyderabad there is Sun Tech Days with some sun speakers.

Said Anonymous Anonymous, 3:09 AM  

All the best.
BTW anna sambhr is the staple food of every native bangalorean not just autowallah's. :)
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