Try It Out! No matter you will pass or fail, but you will definitely learn: Aman

Introduction

Hello Everyone, I am Aman. I am currently serving the role of Chief Technical Officer (CTO) in my startup, Dybo, which is based on Augmented Reality. Our team at Dybo has raised a funding of 1.2 Crore INR (162K USD), for which I am pleased to. Let me take you through my journey, starting from my childhood days.

Background

I hail from a remote village in the Gaya district of Bihar. My father is a farmer and the only earning member of my family. Despite being from a farmer family, I feel privileged to get an education in a private school. The credit goes to my parents, who never compromised with our (me and my sister) education at any cost. My father was under the burden of heavy loans. Still, he never left believing that education is the only key to transform his kids' lives. His decision was firm that my kids would not go to any Hindi medium and government schools, and because of that, I was in touch with computers. 

The first interaction with computers

The love for the computers inside me goes way back. I enjoyed seeing the UI present in the computers. I used to go to relatives' homes to try their computers only for which they were happy. In class 8th, I got introduced to HTML for the first time. I found it really cool as we could attractively display things with just a few lines of code. 

After my 10th standard, I went to Patna with a dream to crack the JEE Advanced exam. There were financial issues in the family, but my dreams were always bigger. But there is one famous quote, “Where There is a Will There ‘s a Way.” I heard about the Ramanujan School Of Mathematics, run by Anand Kumar, Founder of super 30. Fortunately, I got selected for it, and my JEE preparation started. Fees were not as high as others were taking, but even that amount was barely manageable for me. I tried hard but unfortunately was not able to crack the JEE Advanced exam on my first attempt. I was hurt, but that did not break my motivation. I was planning to make another attempt, but I could not ask for more money from my family this time. I learned about the Super30 program, where Anand sir provides free education for thirty meritorious students. This was the only option available to me, and hence I started preparing for it. 

While preparing for Super 30, I found one book on C++ programming language — Jumping into C++ by Alex Allain. I had an I-ball tablet on which I used to read books. I found one app on the google play store where we can write some basic programs in the android environment and run them. That was my first attempt to write the logic in any programming language. I initially enjoyed it, but I got scared once advanced topics like memory allocation, etc., started. I thought that I would not be able to crack the Super30 test, and that's why I stopped going further with C++. Fortunately, I got selected for the program, and it was really relieving for me. Till this point, I could feel the transformation in my thinking behavior. For every mathematical problem, my first thought was, can we write programs for this. Writing the code for the quadratic equation was one of my happiest moments at that time. I sensed that the reason for this love with programming was my love for automation. Repetitive work always annoys me.

I cleared both JEE and BITS exams in my next attempt, but I was not getting any computer science or relevant fields in any top IITs based on my rank. That’s why I preferred BITS Pilani EEE. Another reason for choosing BITS was the 0% attendance policy here, which meant I could spend time with computers without worrying too much about daily academics.

College Journey

I started my college career as an introvert. Some students already had covered programming language in their schools, and their English speaking skills were excellent. Especially related to coding, By the time I could barely think of the solution, their codes used to run. These things were frustrating and demotivating for me.

There are a lot of clubs inside the college that promote coding on campus. I entered the coding club of BITS Pilani, which I consider to be one of my best decisions. I consulted the club’s seniors and conveyed my exact problem of not finding solutions to the analytical questions within the given time. The seniors were very helpful. They gave me a list of projects to pick and tried to find my interest first. I selected the field of game development as 3D was fascinating to me. I went through some online courses of game development engines like Unity to gather the basic knowledge about that. But! Believe me; it was never easy for me. Other team members already had some hands-on in game development, and I was with beginner-level knowledge. These things were very demotivating for me as I felt scared about how I could compete with them.

I gathered some self-motivation and started doing some basic projects for self-learning. I never hesitated in seeking help from seniors and batchmates. Even in my second year, while working with juniors, I learned a lot of things. Our coding club developed a game from scratch in the Oasis every year — a cultural fest of BITS Pilani, and invited visitors to play. There were Virtual Reality games at that festival, but those were mainly purchased, not developed by the team. In my third year, I became the coding club coordinator, and my first resolution was that our team would develop the VR game this year. It was really challenging as none of us had any experience developing games with VR. We started slowly and successfully developed the game within a given time frame. It was one of the most talkative things in that year’s festival. People loved the idea of what we developed and were appreciating our efforts. Being the coordinator was one of the amazing experiences of my life, not only from the technical-knowledge perspective but also from my personal development perspective. It was the decision, which changed an introverted person to an extroverted one.

Startup Decision

Based on my VR game development knowledge, people started knowing me. One day, Dhawal (Co-founder of Dybo) contacted me saying that he had some business ideas and was looking for someone to work on the tech part. Initially, I resisted a lot, but after thinking from a learning perspective, I joined Dhawal. The good thing was, this startup was already incubated in my college, and we had an office to work in. Because of the 0% attendance policy, I was able to work full-time on the technical part. 

Then came my fourth year in college and the season of dream placements. I can clearly remember the scenario when my friends and batchmates were all dressed up going to give interviews, and I was going in half-pants to work in my startup. That was scary to me, and the reason for that, I was on a 100% education loan for the academic fees of BITS. Thoughts of not sitting in placements and not paying the loan amount had become a nightmare for me. I had already lost my sleep for some period. But, I believed in the idea and kept working for it.

I conveyed to my parents that I am not sitting in the placement session as I want to work on my startup idea. Initially, they disagreed because of the loan and the social norms, but they agreed when they saw my confidence.

Startup Execution

Let me present this pointwise so that it will be easy to read:

  1. We started with the idea of interior designing and virtual house plans using VR technology. But, we soon realized that this technology is too early in the market, and people are not ready. So, we pivoted our business into the Augmented Reality (AR) domain. I am always ready to try out new things, so I agreed to it.
  2. Another storm that hit our sailing boat was the Covid-19. We just started gaining customers in Mumbai, and suddenly lockdown happened. We were gaining customers by physically visiting their stores, and guidelines came that we can not leave our rooms. We pivoted our marketing strategy and built our products better to take care of the online business.
  3. Working from home is really challenging, especially for startups. Our work involves 3D models and designs, which require constant discussions. Virtual meetings have some restrictions, and because of that, it was challenging to gain pace.
  4. During covid, we shifted to Gurgaon from Mumbai, and currently, we are operating from Bangalore.
  5. We got the initial round of funding from Spanache, one of the most prestigious VC firms in the industry. It was really a proud moment for all of us.

Yourstory snap

Source: Yourstory.com

Technologies to explore

One thing about technology is that you need to keep yourself updated and ready to evolve. There is one famous quote by APJ Abdul Kalam, which states

It is not unemployment which is a major problem; it is the question of ‘unemployability’ which is a bigger crisis.

You may have the skill, but still, you are unemployable as technology keeps evolving. There is no other option except to gain the newer skills and upgrade your knowledge around the newer evolved tools in such scenarios. Based on my experience, if I would have to suggest three technologies where one can make a successful career is:

  1. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality (AR & VR): This is something that can change your entire view. We have seen many holographic movies for a long time where we can sense the presence of an object in front of it that is not actually there. You can not even imagine that your phone can become a gateway to a completely different world where you can do anything, whatever you want, like building your own home, hosting physical meetings, etc. Most technological giants are heavily investing in this area, like Apple, which is working on the AR Glasses to make the feeling of virtual more real. Facebook also mentioned that they would also be focussing a lot in this space. Our smartphones are getting more powerful day by day, providing a firm platform for the growth of AR technologies. So, I feel this is one of the hottest areas to make a career in.
  2. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning (AI & ML): There is no doubt that this industry will be huge soon. And if we add the AR & VR technologies with AI, that is something where I want to bet. One of the smallest examples I can give is, Google recently added occlusion in its AR vertical using AI. They mask the in-between objects using deep-learning techniques that give a better impression. And if you observe the surroundings, data is everywhere, so there must be some technology to use that data.
  3. Blockchain: Third technology which I also aspire to see is the blockchain. If you remember, recently, Jack Dorsey’s (Founder of Twitter) first tweet went for an auction. One must be thinking, How can we sell a tweet? Yes, if we can showcase that it is really authentic and can provide you ownership, we can sell anything. And for a true authentication blockchain token which can be correlated with the signed copy of that thing. If data is piling up, there must be some security involved, and if we can associate the data with the blockchain token, the security level will increase. And I have personally seen many friends working in this area never face any difficulty finding clients and money. So I can definitely say that this area will be in the upcoming days. So making a career in it is always beneficial.

Tips and Guidance

  1. Never regret any decision in life. Being in the guilt of whatever actually has passed now will only ruin the motivation for the future. So it’s better not to regret but think from a progressive mindset.
  2. I have personally seen many learners dropping in the start from the computer science field. I would suggest giving it some time. Seek proper guidance from seniors, and don’t get burnt out at the start thinking you can not do it. 
  3. Don’t think of computer science as a course, but perceive it as a tool where you are learning it to solve your daily;y problems. Via this method, you will be easily able to keep yourself motivated.
  4. To solve any bigger problem, break it into several smaller subproblems and then combine the solutions as a whole to solve the bigger problem. There will be some scenarios where you will not find any help from the internet, making the problem statement even tougher. But breaking bigger problems into smaller ones smooths out your process of solving something complicated.

Book Recommendation

I would personally suggest every programmer have a look at the book Clean Code by Robert C. Martin. In industries, writing cleaner code is one of the biggest challenges, and reading this book will surely provide you a better insight into how to clean your code.

Final Remarks

Many friends thought of starting their own startup, but they did not pursue it because they always feared how it would run. So my suggestion would be: If you believe in your idea and want to know whether it will work or not, try it out and give it your 100%.

Enjoy learning, Enjoy thinking, Enjoy coding!

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