Humans of DevRev
Every DevReveler has a unique story of why they are here.
“Starting over, one more time, with yet another trilogy!”
I’ve always believed in the power of three. I almost deify it. It helps me remember and enunciate better, as if my brain yearns for a set of anything three. It pushes me everyday towards minimalism, as a constant reminder of the “less is more” aphorism.
I am in awe of the why.how.what triad that I picked up from Simon Sinek. The sentence that struck me the most from the book “The Gene” is the one in which the author talks about how the discovery of the atom, the byte, and the gene trisected the 20th century: the building blocks of all knowledge I seek as I age. I love the trilogy of the head, the heart, and the gut in life’s decisions.
I’ve also had serendipities with trinity. My first job out of college was for an Austin-based company named Trilogy! My wife and I are blessed with 3 children, even though we had planned for two (the younger ones are twins)! And with important forks in the road, I have truly leveraged my gut — over my head and heart — to maximize serendipity and minimize (analysis) paralysis.
Ever since age 16, gut has been a great friend in helping me with my high-risk ventures. Quitting college in freshman year to pursue computer science the following year required courage and equanimity. Deciding to marry my future wife at 22 — even before I had met her in person — required instinct (and heart). Rejecting Microsoft job offers twice in favor of a startup, which eventually failed after the Internet bubble burst, needed gumption.
My cousins gave me the nickname “Atal” when I was 4, which means resolute in Hindi. I had the conviction to quit my job and start Nutanix in 2009, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, even though all we had in savings was $100K in 401k. I immensely respect my wife of 21 years for being a rock and a fellow “entrepreneur” in life. I admire my mom for trusting my judgment and my bias for long-term greed. Their support was unflinching as I summoned the courage to take a public Nutanix through more than 3 years of a business model transition, which instinctively was the only way for the company to survive and thrive in the era of cloud and subscription.
Creating DevRev was one such ambitious move that required their trust and that of Manoj, a college friend and confidante I’ve immensely respected and confided in for almost 3 decades. At four in the morning, when my train stopped at the Kanpur railway station in 1997, he was the first one to come and hug me for my “Best All Rounder Student” award that IIT Kanpur had bestowed on me. I vividly remember that childlike joy with which he congratulated me, that innocence that knew no envy nor wistfulness. He is WYSIWYG personified — guileless, resolute, consistent.
Together, we are starting over on a DevRev journey that is yet another bet on a trifecta — of data, design, and machine intelligence — to help developers grow into architects, merchants, and entrepreneurs.
I fell in love with Chris Stapleton’s song, “ Starting Over,” during the pandemic. Like a true minimalist, he’s kept such a beautiful song to 3 minutes and no more!
More power to 3!
“Of childlike curiosity and fearlessness”
A small village boy — raised in the tribal hinterlands of India without access to electricity, clean water, good school or healthcare — was willing to challenge the status quo and dream for a better future. Walking three miles each way to school was normal to him, until he was 12, when he joined his dad to start a family business to make ends meet. Long hours at work as his father’s protégé meant he could only pursue self-study and that too in the evenings.
“Customer is god,” “truthfulness and honesty in all circumstances,” and “no shortcuts to success” were some of the life lessons he imbibed from his dad. While running the business, he learned the value of humility, empathy, and resolving conflicts between different parties.
The boy eventually got lucky. His hard work and self-learning brought him to the premier engineering college of India, IIT Kanpur, where he also met Dheeraj. He received scholarship money, some of which he used to buy his first bicycle! Here, he made lifelong friends and also found his life partner. The boy learned to speak English more fluently and got his first corporate job. He was ecstatic to take his first flight in life.
Success and happiness notwithstanding, he never forgot his roots — hard work, humility, empathy, and passion for learning — virtues that continued to define, shape, and grow him in life as an adolescent and an adult.
Over the next twenty years of his career — majority of that time building products — the engineering professional in him saw how difficult it was for developers to get a clear view of what really mattered to customers, things that become the proxy for revenue and customer delight for any tech company. The bureaucracy and apathy between makers and consumers brought nothing but agony and disappointment to all involved.
This is my story, that hopeful village boy still brimming with childlike curiosity and fearlessness. The child in me is pursuing a simple yet profound purpose: to build products that establish authentic human connections and bring meaning to work.
In late 2020, I joined hands with Dheeraj — long time friend, mentor, and colleague — to start DevRev, a business software company dedicated to the growth of developers. We are passionate about using the trifecta of design, data engineering, and machine intelligence to establish real connections between core stakeholders — makers and consumers — redefining software development (and consumption) in this new era of product-led businesses!
“Grit is having stamina.”
Grit is sticking with your future—day in, day out, not just for a week, not just for a month, but for years—and working really hard to make that future a reality." -Angela Lee Duckworth
Growing up, I had a strong penchant for reading and writing, and an equally strong aversion to math. If left to my own devices, I would’ve opted for a qualitative major in college, but I was instructed to choose something, anything, quantitative. I wound up graduating with a BS in Economics and a minor in Math. I later went on to pursue a career in tech by way of code school; this time of my own volition.
My college advisors applauded me for being able to steadily progress from elementary level math courses to the upper level ones. Meanwhile, the folks at the math tutoring center would joke that I needed my own mailbox in their office since that’s where I spent all my time (we became great friends, and they supported me even when I was taking advanced classes that weren’t in the scope of the tutoring center). Suffice to say, this was not an easy, breezy, linear journey for me. I struggled often. I failed occasionally. But ultimately, I grew.
This gritty, “pick yourself up and try again” mentality has served me well in the workplace, as well as in life. And although I’m learning now that knowing when to quit is an important skill too, I think it's perfectly suited for an opportunity like this; where we’re all here for the marathon, not the sprint.
“I've always dreamed of building a design team that's like a family owned craft workshop.”
Having a bunch of stellar designers doesn't always mean you will automatically have a stellar design team. I've seen many outstanding designers through my career from Frog to Nutanix to Airbnb and one thing that has been consistently true is that designers can be weird untamed creatures. We have so many unique ideas and want our work to be the best of the best. And, sometimes there are just too many chefs in the kitchen.
But does that mean you always have to strategically set clear ownerships so people don't step on each other's toes? Can folks simply volunteer wherever help is needed? That was my biggest goal when building the design team at DevRev. We wouldn't be able to create "delight" if we are not having fun ourselves. DevRev designers are just a bunch of "design kids" by heart. We are less of coworkers and more like buddies who share the same love of creating beautiful little things and putting a smile on people's faces. No matter how challenging the work or timeline is, we know we have each other's back.
“It’s always about the North Star.”
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been driven by the outcome - whether it was a video game score, time in a race, grades in school or sales in a business. When I played video games as a child, I always wanted the highest score. I would start by playing the same way as my friends, but would eventually find hacks/secrets to “break” the traditional scoring methods. I’d often weirdly try different key combinations and end up cracking a code. I wouldn’t care about the boundary conditions, even if others thought it might be unfair and as long as I wasn’t breaking any rules.
My outcome maniacalism guides my mental models at work in the same way - always in search of finding a new, better and faster way. In my past investment banking career and while at other formidable and reputable institutions, I saw well-oiled products and processes that left little room for innovation or experimentation. Despite finding rules or restrictions somewhat stifling, I’d never lose sight of the tangible, measurable outcome - my North Star - and would figure out how to optimize within any immovable constraints to get there.
At DevRev, with a blank canvas, we can create, design, hack and challenge everything and have already started to build operations in a way the world hasn’t seen yet. We’re redefining and morphing seemingly mature functions - culture, talent, HR, real estate, travel - into 100x better versions. We’re building for the workforce of the future which lives up to DevRev’s mission of building the most trustworthy place to work. It is so liberating - I feel like a bird flying toward a limitless horizon.
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
I find myself motivated by the dirt. To create lasting value, to build something larger than one's own contributions, you must venture into unpaved territory. This is where I find inspiration; inspiration to learn new skills, inspiration to build new products, and inspiration to connect with people with similar aspirations.
Before getting my Masters, I spent a Summer in Alaska as a commercial salmon set-netter in one of the world's most sustainable fisheries (#ProtectBristolBay). Here I gained a new found appreciation for teamwork and what it takes to build trust. Working with an amazing group of individuals from around the world and sharing in the grueling 20+ hour / 7 days a week efforts that it takes to safely succeed in one of the world's harshest terrains, taught me how a motivated team can produce tremendous value.
The people and culture brought me to DevRev and convinced me that this is the right team to create a new technology category. The near decade I've spent in Enterprise Software has given me the opportunity to innovate across machine learning, voice, and collaboration applications, but the future of this industry is still an unpaved path. I believe it will require an even larger emphasis on Design, AI, and end user empathy. Those key tenants are what excite me about DevRev's Vision.
I am thrilled to be a part of this journey, to create the world's most customer centric company, and look forward to creating micro moments of joy for our customers and our customer's customers that will improve the lives of all our users.
“What are you holding on for?”
This is something I’ve continued to ask myself throughout my life. It’s an innate fire—a reminder to tread only for so long along the settled and reassured paths. For me, there has always been that impetus to reach for things far-off from the straight and narrow. To trade things familiar for things beyond my realm of comfort; things that, at one point or another, were unfathomable to me. It’s my forcing function for growth.
Ten years ago I had embarked on a career doing computational physics in the aerospace field. I had no idea that I would end up in the area of business development, no less even thought about being a data engineer. Come to think of it, the latter term barely even existed then. The years at each of those waypoints were intensive: early mornings, chaotic days, long nights, tough customers, and lifelong friends. They gave me an appreciation for the value of failure. I reveled in soaking up the countless hours of learning. But sooner or later, it eventually always became maybe all too familiar, and that was my barometer to be unsettled again.
So, I’ve always welcomed leaving behind the well-honed parts of me to give way to something new. These leaps of faith carried me along an unconventional path. I trust in them. They gave me lessons in building from scratch. They taught me to let go. They helped me tame the fear of uncertainty. They led me to DevRev, where nothing we do is familiar, and there’s so much left to create.
“Mistakes are your best teachers.”
I realized the importance of academics much later in my life and consequently ended being in a not-so-great college. This was my first hard lesson in life that made me realize that I had to do something about my life. My learning journey started during my 2nd year of college when I pushed myself daily and worked till 2 AM. Three years later, I had completed six internships, founded two startups, and won three hackathons globally and nationally. I believe the biggest hurdle for anyone is to know what exactly you want to do or achieve in your life. Once that is clear, you can do anything. For example, I always wanted to code, and here I am…happy in my coding world!
“You are the Stabilizers!!”
It was in my teens that I got my first PC. I used to play PC games and dreamt about creating a game on my own. Then there was rock music and a second dream: playing and singing songs so strong and moving that they would make people sing and jump from their feet. And so it started rolling. First AMSBasic programs, first open chords.
Dreams were coming to reality. I got to college, studying electrotechnics and played and sang in a rock band. Some of the first applications of my knowledge were building power stabilizers from spare parts to make amps, mixers and keyboards work in unstable electricity network. One day a friend dropped by to a rehearsal and declared “you are a band that runs on stabilizers” and so we called ourselves “Stabilizer”.
Being a part of a company should be as if being a part of a rock bank. You bring your best and trust in others that they bring their best too. Everyone is included, everyone contributes. No contribution is below you as long as it moves us forward. Different skills, experiences, cultures, languages are the pieces to combine, review, break, recombine - until we create an enjoyable product, be it SAAS or a tune.
“Do what comes naturally.”
I like doing things that come naturally and creating something from scratch is one of those things that had a visceral magnetism for me. While discussing user journeys one day with the PM team, I decided it would be good to create the requirements visually using wireframes. In any other organization this would have led to discussions around swim lanes between PM and design team. Here we just got on the call, discussed what made sense and moved on. Simple things like these define the culture of the company and build a familial trust among team members.
“My story is that of endless curiosity.”
Early in my childhood, I gained notoriety for wrecking and then eventually fixing things while trying to understand how they worked. When I was about nine years old, my mom brought our very first computer home for her work. It wasn't long before I had managed to break it. After I broke it the third time, my mom took me along with the computer to the repair shop, and left me there for a few hours. What happened next changed my life. Watching the technicians the entire day as they repaired this and other computers was a dream-come-true for me. Soon after, I was able to fix the computer on my own, learning from things like autoexec.bat file that the technicians had written.
That was my introduction to programming.
Fast forward a few years later and my curiosity led me to become a programmer but also to learn playing the violin, drums and the piano, learn obscure languages and delve into astrophotography.
My curiosity drives me. My curiosity defines me.
My curiosity is what brought me to DevRev, and I continue to enjoy the journey of learning new things every day.
“As a child, I was petrified of snakes.”
I grew up in a small town in West Bengal in India. The place was known for a steel factory where my father worked. Burnpur, of other things, had a lot of tropical vegetation and saw rain more than five months of the year. It also had a lot of snakes, and we would run into different kinds at all places. While playing cricket on the field, while walking on the streets, and sometimes even inside the house. I was petrified of snakes.
When I went to college in Delhi, the fear that had found root deep in my psyche followed me, and one day to try and get it out of my system, I said to myself - What is the worst thing that can happen? There was no dearth of snake charmers in Delhi at that time, and the next time I saw one, I asked the charmer if I could hold a snake in my hand. My hypothesis was if I got up close and personal with a reptile and saw it for what it was - mostly harmless, I could see that the fear was illogical and the mere act will cure me of the irrational dread.
My hypothesis proved wrong.
But I did it anyway.
Throughout my life, I have had a fear of doing things that have always been way outside my comfort zone. But every single time, I somehow found courage to do it anyways.
More recently as I grew comfortable around my day-to-day job, I heard about DevRev and came to the conclusion it merited walking away from everything I have learned to try something new again. To build something from scratch again. To hold the snake in my hand again.
This is the story of my life. And it is still taking shape.
“Choice and growth”
When I was little, I collected stickers that I refused to use. I would have page after page of them, of gold stars and sparkling letters, animals and rainbows and rocketships, but would leave them in wait for the proper occasion of their use. I waited. And waited. And waited. I waited until, one day, I couldn’t find them. I knew I could only use each of them once and, not wanting to risk putting them in the wrong place, I used none of them.
As I got older, I realized I would never find the perfect place to put a sticker. Instead, by placing one, I would learn where the next would go. I learned this by making choices about my university, my habits, my majors, and my friends. By pursuing my passions instead of waiting for the perfect path, I was able to make a choice that would maximize that which was important to me now to grow. This is why, when looking for opportunities after college, I began to look into startups.
When interviewing at DevRev, I was struck not by the cog in the machine type of career but rather an opportunity to be and improve myself while influencing the growth of such a new organization. Here was a company that believed in passion, believed in education, and believed in the pursuit of ideas so much that the founders were willing to risk leaving their previous billion dollar public company to start it. It was a team of inclusion and heart, one that exemplified the opportunities of the individual and the importance of having a community. When I received an offer, I knew that I was making the right choice in joining because this was one that afforded me the chance to keep pursuing different ideas, to interact with and grow from independently minded people, and to give my time to a cause where it was valued more than monetarily.
In a world where our choices after college often lead to careers many of us thought unimaginable our freshmen year, joining a startup has allowed the opportunity to continue growing and make meaningful contributions. Instead of a finite choice, a startup is the choice of many more choices. Choice to do something new and contribute something great. Page after page of stickers - so many that I don’t mind giving myself a gold star.
“The builder in history”
Coming from a family of farmers and engineers, I have always been interested in the synthesis of ideas and practical action. Why does a problem exist? How does the system in which it occurs work? What can I do to solve it? These questions have inspired me in all domains of my life, from road-bike maintenance, to archival research, to early-childhood education, to business-building.
A place to which I have often returned for reflection is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where a painting by Camille Corot called The Muse: History hangs in Gallery 803. The painting seized my attention when I first saw it, its balance of detail and ambiguity evoking the essential questions with which the historian must grapple — Why are things today as they are? How did they grow out of past events? Who drove those changes, what ideas inspired them, and what did they displace?
A perennial debate among historians is whether the agency of great people or the broad force of structural conditions dictates the course of history. To build a successful technology company, however, one does not have the luxury of taking only one of those sides. The vision must be ambitious, the timing must be right, and the technology must deliver compelling value, but the team must also execute with a devotion to progress that verges on the religious and must not only confront but knock down longstanding assumptions. It is a challenge with many facets, and when successfully overcome, its impact on the way that people live and work can be tremendous.
At DevRev, we are company not only of builders, but also for builders. By bringing developers closer to their customers, we are empowering them to shape the future of their products and their businesses. We are tilting the historical balance toward agency.
This is the scale of our opportunity at DevRev. I look forward with great anticipation to the journey ahead.
“The joy of creation”
Sometimes the most eye—catching creation is made by pure accident. Like a crumpled paper napkin forgotten in a pocket and removed weeks later.
“The only thing certain about the path forward is uncertainty.”
She was always early. No matter where we went, be it Saturday Chinese school or an open night at Davies Symphony Hall, we had to be there before anyone else. Early was expected. On-time was late. Late was impossible; it was lazy. My mom was many things, but never lazy.
Her sudden passing when I was in 3rd grade left me confused, directionless, lost. Throughout middle and high school, I had to forge my own path – balancing my responsibilities to my aging grandparents, my two younger siblings, and school. I continued, ever forward, to prove to myself that her sacrifices would come to fruition, to make her proud. I made use of every available opportunity and resource, refusing to relegate myself to self-pity and stagnation.
With the world opening up before me since arriving at Stanford, I realize I will need to combine extrinsic motivations with deeper, intrinsic motivations – a desire to improve myself and the world around me, honing deeply my passion in building for others. The only thing certain about the path forward is uncertainty, a truth that I've since grown to trust and find comfort in. At DevRev, I've found an incredible opportunity to marry both passions, exploring uncertainty among incredibly talented and kind people while building for developers. Here, I am able to embrace every part of my identity, each facet stemming from a mom who refused to be late.
“Growing up quotations have had a great impact on shaping my character and perspective.”
My father often quoted "Honesty, is the best policy" and "Sab padhenge, tab badhenge" (which roughly translates to "We will grow, only if everyone is educated"). I took both of these to heart and have been mentoring students ever since my high school days.
A lot of my inspiration on engineering comes from my grandfather who was a civil engineer himself. His favourite quotes were — "A stitch in time saves nine" (in current connotation — fixing technical debt before it blows out of proportion) and "Footprints on the sands of time" (building something which makes a long lasting impact in this world, a legacy you leave behind !)
As I started to form more independent view of the world I realised that, I thrive on trust and enjoy being able to utilise all of my skills at work — engineering, communication, people, design—rather than limiting myself to what is expected of a role. DevRev was an opportunity which gave me those wings and I decided to join the flock, no questions asked.
I also strongly believe in growth-mindset and knowing that future me will be a much better version of present me. Luckily, I have some of the most amazing co-workers who inspire me to improve every single day.
Personally, I derive happiness from little things 😇 — An evening tea with my partner at ChaiPoint, buying new plants and decor for my living room, baking our favourite cake with my sister and a laughter filled dinner with my besties !
“There are no secrets to success.”
It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit at heart. My journey into software development started while I was studying Chemical Engineering at university. I took an engineering entrepreneurship course and got the chance to start my own company. What my team and I came up with was essentially on-demand electric scooter rentals (back before they were ubiquitous). At the end of the course, real investors evaluate everyone's business proposals, and my team ended up winning the competition!
Unfortunately, the company didn't make it past the classroom, but I did receive my first full-time job offer in software development because of it. One of the investors loved our idea and offered me a job at his digital design agency. I gladly accepted and was very excited for the opportunity to be a part of the complete software development lifecycle, from ideation to design to development. So much so, in fact, that I decided not to pursue opportunities related my Chemical Engineering degree after graduating!
What I enjoy most about software engineering is getting to design the inner workings of the applications we use every day. I've always been the kind person who loves to take things apart to see how they work, so this was the perfect fit for me. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to build all kinds of applications over the years—from data visualization to supply chain management to health insurance—across both web and mobile platforms.
What drew me to DevRev was the opportunity to completely change the way we work together through software. I'm excited to work with such an ambitious team that cares deeply about the end-user. I'm constantly learning something new every day here and applying my skills in creative ways. I can't want to see what the future holds for us!
“Good morning of a new humanity”
My parents gave me my roots and my wings. I learned responsibility from my father and self-discipline and perseverance from my mother. For this reason, my secret weapon has always been endurance**,** to play for the long run, and bring responsibility and energy to the finish line.
My learnings from life are summarized in one word, balance. Parenting, as a balance of nature and nurture. Problem solving, as a balance of the detail and the big picture. Decisions, as a balance of art and science. Career, as a balance of following the heart and the mind. Business, as a balance of short-term and long-term goals. Earth, as a balance of god’s creation and human consumption.
Balance, however, is never actually standing still. I believe we are experiencing a rebirth, a New Renaissance that will unleash something great, giving rise to individuality, new forms of creation and purpose-driven connection. At DevRev - it is Day 1, to find a balance again. To fight for a world of reason, to fight and do away with barriers. To fight for a world that’s ready to welcome a new humanity.
My journey at DevRev is one of new perspectives. For the majority of my 14-year career, my efforts have been shrouded in infrastructure, writing systems designed to be used exclusively by other machines. In this world, efficiency and reliability are key, where function precedes form and inconsistencies can be catastrophic.
Humans are different. While they're more forgiving in terms of latency, they're also fairly imprecise, relying on an accumulation of information to guide and enhance their experience. Framing back-end engineering decisions in terms of how they enhances users' productivity—and ultimately, their happiness—flexes an empathy muscle that had atrophied in the infrastructure layers.
This mental shift accompanies a personal change as I've become a first-time father in late April. It has been uniquely rewarding to attempt to see the world through my daughter's eyes as she discovers contrasts and colors. As I start my life-long journey to help her navigate the complexities of life and to teach her how to find value in a world of noise, I can't help but draw parallels to my new professional venture.
“I love tinkering with things”
I was born and raised in a small town called Mzuzu in Malawi. My early days defined the individual I am today. I went to boarding school at an early age. It was challenging, but extremely pivotal in moulding me as an individual. There was hazing and bullying. Home was a long ways out; nowhere to run. We had to manage our school supplies to keep us going till the end of the quarter, and on top of that we had to keep good grades in class. Through it all, I really learned how to thrive and survive.
After secondary school, I was set to go study Business Administration and Accounting at the University of Malawi - easy route to making a good living in Malawi. But that was not my passion. I loved tinkering with things. Physics fascinated me. Mathematics fascinated me. Planes fascinated me! I so badly wanted to study avionics and aeronautics, and universities in Malawi did not offer that.
I caught wind of a program that would help me apply to colleges in the US. Lifeline! I embraced it with both hands, and worked hard at it!
One semester into my college studies, I learned Aeronautics and Astronautics might not be my best option - the perils of not being a US citizen. That was soul crashing. It was hard to take, but I had to pivot. EECS was my next choice; a strategic choice: EECS gave me the opportunity to tinker with and build things, while at the same time giving me a good chance of getting the industry experience I'd need… the experience I’d need to give back to where I started.
Years have passed, I continue to be a student of engineering; I continue to be a tinkerer; I continue to be a builder. And deep inside, the desire to give back to where I started continues to burn…
“Evolution is joy.”
Though I have not always known my path, I have always known my purpose: creating a meaningful difference in the world. Whatever I touch, I must leave it better than I found it.
While that requires working with passionate, like-minded people, it conflicts with my fierce independence and finding deep comfort in solitude, grappling with a complex challenge.
That's one reason that I enjoyed studying and practicing the law, a profession where you go deep within to solve challenges for others. That's also why I chose to work with a legal-tech startup at the beginning of my career when more traditional options were available. I have always wanted more from life than just making a living, and I will not be content being just a cog in a wheel. I need to make a genuine impact, and I live for that sense of purpose.
This powerful quote by Michelle Obama resonates deeply with me: "For me, becoming isn't about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn't end."
Coming from such a different world, joining DevRev is almost like starting a new career and a chance to throw myself into things I haven't done before. It's such a rare opportunity to have the 'roll up your sleeves,' hacky startup energy combined with the wealth of experience and big-picture thinking that our founders bring.
I'm immensely grateful for the challenges and opportunities to learn that DevRev offers, and I am honored to be embarking on this journey with the team here. It's been amazing to discover how quickly trust develops when interactions are authentic and empathetic, despite never meeting each other!
“Untethered blob of color”
I paint. Sometimes to express and often to reflect. But I can promise you; there is nothing as scary as a blank canvas. I remember a Van Gogh quote that goes something like - an empty canvas has a paralyzing stare that says, "You can't do a thing." But, at that moment, all you have to do is slap an untethered blob of color right across the canvas. That kinda puts an end to the spell of "You can't do a thing" once and for all. And then, you are no longer scared. That's the magic of beginnings, I guess. All you have to do is trust that magic and take a leap of faith. Eventually, everything will fall in place.
That's what made me join DevRev. Back in November 2020, we did not have an office space, an MVP or a payroll, or even a website. A blank canvas. But all it took was a 10-minute conversation with Manoj, and I joined DevRev as the 1st member in India. From that day till today, it has been an adventure. I have been very fortunate to collaborate with all the brilliant minds at DevRev. Each day we dream, conceptualize, discuss, debate, and passionately fight to build the most fantastic experience for the DevRev platform. Each day we add new brushstrokes to the canvas. It's not the masterpiece we envisioned yet. But it's undoubtedly a million leaps ahead of the blank canvas we started with. As Dheeraj says, "It's a looooong journey, we will stumble, we will fall, but eventually, we will get there." And I can't wait.
“To strive, to seek ,to find and not to yield - Alfred, Lord Tennyson”
I grew up in Bangalore speaking five different languages (never could decide which one to claim as my mother tongue :)). I was interested in poetry and found it fascinating to compare how the same thoughts were expressed differently in different languages. My parents believed in letting me discover and form my view of the world. In school, I discovered my love for programming, and the power of creating something useful made me giddy. When it came to choosing a field, I was torn between pursuing literature/poetry and engineering. Most people found my conundrum bizarre and didn't think these two interests could ever live in harmony. So I let my left brain dominate my thoughts and pursued engineering. I have spent the past 15 years building products, seeking and finding new challenges in startups and established companies, learning new domains, identifying common patterns across fields, and experiencing the thrill of programming in languages ranging from Assembly to Golang. I firmly believe applying learnings from different fields and fostering a diversity of ideas help build a better world. I think the structured thought process, imagination, and empathy required to write good poetry is no different from what is needed to build great products. The most delightful experiences of my career so far have been when I solved challenging problems, and I was able to connect directly with the consumer of the products I had built and receive feedback. The direct feedback was far easier to receive for my poetry blog, while it was much harder to receive for my developed products.
So, the decision to join DevRev was an easy one, considering there is a massive list of challenging problems to solve. The vision of the company is to bring developers closer to the customers. It is great to solve a problem that will get me as much joy as a creator to bring to our customers. I am super excited about building a product that will melt the artificial barriers between the creators and the consumers and delight both equally. I look forward "To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield" until we make this a reality.
“Stay hungry, stay foolish”
I've always been an inquisitive person. The WHYs and the HOWs around me have molded and directed my thinking from the word go. Though I've never been an active reader, the stories about enhancing people's lives have always fascinated me. At the core of each story, there was an idea that someone chose to believe in if others didn't. This made me realize that it is extraordinary in the ordinary; you just have to look for it with open eyes and an open mind. You have to place your belief in your gut feeling and work with that belief to see it materialize.
As a person and as a student, the two pillars of my growth have been a constant urge to strive for better and a knack to try new things outside of my comfort zone, caring more about learning and less about the consequences.
As a fresh graduate, there are numerous things for me to explore and learn. I find DevRev an excellent opportunity to kick off my career; there are plenty of ideas to brainstorm and work upon. Everyone wants to join a brand, but I decided to contribute to building one and looking forward to a roller coaster ride with fellow DevRevelers!
“Life is a happy journey.”
I have been moved to a lot of places since I was a child. From Michigan and California to Gyeonggido and Seoul in Korea, there are more than 6 places where I left my footsteps. It may have been a demanding time for me as a child, but I remember it as a valuable experience. In retrospect, I believe it was possible because I met good family and friends on the itinerary. Thanks to this, I have become a person who enjoys challenges and journeys. I feel fulfilled and alive when I try and learn new things. I started a new journey as I joined DevRev this June. I would say this trip will also be decent and joyful because the people I met here are stunning. As it will be the first trip for both me and DevRev by being together at the start of the company, I look forward to learning a lot and being an inspiration to the company and my colleagues.
Venkata Vamsi Krishna Kothuri
“Tough times makes you build character.”
I don't say I was born with a golden spoon but definitely with a silver spoon. Days were all good and rosy till I was in my final year of graduation. Generally, every semester, my dad used to give me 20,000 Rupees as pocket money, but in my last year, he gave me 2,000 Rupees and asked me to manage my expenses with that amount that year. At that young age, I was like - What the heck is this? How can he do that to me? Why is he doing that? Did he stop loving me? Did he even understand my commitments and expenditures? How could I take my friends out for parties? How could I compromise on my lifestyle? And what would my friends think about me? Will I be looked down upon?... More than 1,000 questions ran through my brain.
Then my dad gave me another shocker - "No higher education because you have to support the family," he said. This devastated me completely until my mom told me that my dad's business got into trouble and ended up with so much debt that we couldn't even afford our usual standard of living. He needed my help. I had no words other than tears. Especially being born as a kid where all my wishes came true in no time, it was heartbreaking.
This made me think about my character deeply. At this point, I had two choices: accepting the changes or completely rewrite the story of my vision of the future. I choose to pursue the latter option. Because my dad used to say, "Tough times test and build your character." Being the oldest son in the family with two younger brothers, I decided to be brave and made some difficult choices.
After I finished my graduation, I embarked on my career immediately. While I was in college, I decided to tutor other engineering students. Then, when I got a chance, I worked as a freelancer, then as an insurance agent, I did stock trading, gave corporate training, even worked as a real estate agent. I did not say no to any job opportunity that came my way, and five years later, devoid of social life, no trips, no holidays, no sleep, I finally found something that I could call a stable job. Those five years were the most challenging years of my life, yet those were the best years. It transformed me completely the way I think and act on things, the way I listen and understand situations, how I treat family and I think about people; and how I respect all that we have today and had in the past.
I feel those five years added character to me and what I do. Now I strongly feel blessed to have what we have, and I also firmly believe that I can live a simple life and brave any challenges life throws at me.
“Not just an intern!”
I have known for a long time that I love technology. Whether it was playing video games with my dad or building toy circuit sets, I was always intrigued by how much was possible through electronics. As I got older, I started to grow more curious about what I myself could do through coding and started taking basic programming classes. I fell in love with it, and have continued my learning through the University of Texas' computer science program. While there, I took on different internships that taught me things that school never could, but for some reason I felt unfulfilled by the work I was doing.
Ever since I joined DevRev, I have felt like my skills are being used to the fullest. I have been given many opportunities to come up with ideas and execute them myself, even though I'm "just an intern." I feel like a valued member of the team, and each day I'm excited to get to work because of how much I have been encouraged and pushed to grow. I'm excited to see where things go from here!
“I am seeking for the bridge which leans from the visible to the invisible through reality.”
Software engineering happened to me by fate. Born in the 80s in India, I followed the engineering route and my cousins to America to seek a better life, like most in my generation. As an immigrant student, '09 was a bad time to graduate and launch a career in the post-recession world. After being an intern for more than a year, I had finally started a permanent position at RSA, The security division of EMC as a software engineer in the SIEM team. My job was to collect, parse and model log data from all kinds of servers, routers, gateways, firewalls, etc. This was by no means a dream job compared to Google and Microsoft at that time, but I was grateful for the opportunity. Despite an unreasonable number of roommates, sub-par pay, and a second-hand car that could give in any minute, I felt that things were finally looking up. Then, in a near Forrest Gumpish incident on a cold fateful morning, I found myself caught in the middle of a landmark story that changed my life. Here it goes !!
I swerved my mean machine- '98 Nissan Altima through a Dunkin to get my usual morning hit of double sugar double cream with coffee and a Boston cream donut; I knew I was already late for yet another day at work. Sporting my freebie backpack, I rolled into the proud corner that I shared with three other techies. "Anindya, can I see you in my office" - my Manager called out. As I walked into his office, my usual cheerful boss had a grim look on his face. As he looked towards his window - he said, "There is a project I want you to work on. Please keep it to yourself, but there is an ongoing investigation of a possible data breach in our servers. You will work closely with the Security Operations Center team to assist in forensics." He then walked me across the bridge to the adjacent building where the Security Operations Center was housed. What I saw there was straight from a Hollywood movie - Huge television screens and scores of "analysts" sifting through data as if in a NASA control room. Little did I know that the "boring" log analysis product I worked on was the foundation of this bustling operation. I was introduced to the analysts who looked exhausted as if they had not slept for days. I got a seat at the war room and started working with them.
The analysts used my product day in and out, and as customers had a lot of questions around the inner workings and features. Sitting with them and seeing them use the product, I felt proud of my work, and suddenly the "Why" of my 8-10 hours daily had a higher purpose. I also realized that the way we designed the product was very different from the way analysts used it; most of our assumptions were not correct. I worked closely with the analysts and learned a lot from them. Then, RSA publicly disclosed the breach even though some thought it was suicidal for a security vendor to be hacked. As Art(RSA President)put it, "Trust was the bedrock of our business," and we had to be very transparent with our customers. Very soon, Google and others also disclosed their breaches in what seemed to be a series of sophisticated nation-state attacks. In fact, the demand for our product rose significantly, and the learnings from the breach were productized and sold to many of our customers, and I had a front seat to all this action.
Today data breaches are commonplace, and the SIEM market has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar Security Analytics industry. I was lucky to be a small part of that story. But, I am happy I crossed the bridge to the other side where my customers were on that fateful day. It changed my life!
“It is always the journey, not the destination.”
I come from the south of Sri Lanka, filled with lush paddies where farming was the staple. Now it is one of the metropolitan states. After high school, I joined the University of Moratuwa, where I pursued civil engineering for my undergraduate degree, followed by a postgraduate degree in computer science from the same university. I moved to Silicon Valley in 2015.
Even though I did civil engineering for my undergraduate studies, my passion was in computer science. The reason I did civil engineering was because I had no choice. After the first-year exam at the university, we were given an option to pick a new area we wanted to specialize in — and my scores were only good enough to do civil engineering, so I did it! It was the very first significant setback in my Life! I started finding ways to learn computer science myself so that when I graduated from the university, I could be a software engineer. Unlike these days, we didn't have Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, or not even a broadband internet connection. So I developed a strange habit of collecting job advertisements for software engineers in Sunday newspapers and sticking all of them into a journal. That helped me learn what skills I needed to develop to land a software job.
I worked hard self-studying computer science while doing my undergraduate studies in Civil engineering, only to learn that no software company was even interested in giving an interview for a civil engineering graduate. That was a bummer! I wanted to build a resume that no software company could reject. It took me three months, sleeping about three hours a day, to complete most of the developer-focused certificate programs by Sun (Oracle now), Microsoft, and Oracle. Finally, I re-applied and landed my first job as a software engineer! That journey I took to become a software engineer taught me not only computer science but also Life. I learned the pain of rejection and how to keep my head high even when nobody wants me!
If I have any success today, that's primarily due to my very first failure in Life as an undergraduate.
In 2007, I joined WSO2 to lead the open-source Identity Server project from zero customers to a 750-plus, zero annual recurring revenue (ARR) to 12M+ USD, zero users to more than 250 million, and from a four-member team to a 100-member team. It's been a remarkably satisfying experience.
I am now thrilled to start the next phase of my Life at DevRev and looking forward to growing from zero again.
“Getting priorities straight”
One of the most important lessons of my life has been understanding, evolving, and accepting my priorities. For example, when I was in college, my primary goal was to earn enough to buy a Porsche. At the time, that was more of an unconscious desire, but when I finally could afford a sports car, I no longer wanted one. I had matured enough to realize that sports cars are merely impractical status symbols and that I didn't need one - neither as a conveyance nor as a means to stroke my ego.
This goal-wise vacuum was quickly filled by my loving wife and a couple of kids, whose well-being, raising, and education are now the overriding priority. My second priority is enjoying life in its various facets: Food, hiking, chess, building, and making people happy. The latter includes customers, coworkers, and my father-in-law. 😜 The awesome power in figuring out and explicitly noting your priorities is the clarity that brings. For example, if I were to conclude that my priority is to work on cool hardware, such as rocket engines, perhaps I should find another place to hang my hat. If, on the other hand, I conclude, as I have, that the most important aspect of a place of employment is to be surrounded by a small but awesome team and to have unseating Goliath as a goal, then DevRev is an excellent choice.
Figuring out and explicitly noting priorities is just as important for a business. In a testament to how unusual Dheeraj is as a CEO, he stated long ago that his priorities for his business are taking care of customers first, then taking care of employees and letting them build an awesome product. The bottom line, according to Dheeraj, then takes care of itself. That clarity has made Nutanix what it is today and will; I have undoubtedly made DevRev similarly successful. My recommendation to you: Think about your personal goals and priorities, and once you have clarity, the view will be much like this ☝️.
“There is no substitute for hard work.”
I was born in Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh, India). I attended my schooling in different parts of the country. This provided me with an opportunity to work, learn, and interact with people from different cultures and diverse backgrounds.
In my early childhood, I loved roller skating as it required a lot of balance and coordination. While preparing for a state-level competition, I fractured my right arm in the process. With three months left, I was disappointed that I was not able to participate due to my lack of preparation. However, with very little time left post my recovery, I did not give up on the practice and finished 5th in the competition. This event taught me the importance of hard work, determination, and never giving up. I have been a strong advocate of these qualities ever since.
I recently finished my undergraduate in Software engineering. During the course, I completed multiple internships where I worked on back-end technologies and mentored students as a teaching assistant. I like working on problems that challenge me to think and work harder.
I love to travel by road and enjoy hiking while listening to music.
“What does it mean to lead a good life?”
From early on, I was guided by the drive to understand the fundamental existential questions, especially what it means to lead a good life. The best way to start approaching them seemed to be through ethics - a discipline that forces one to step out of the confines of one's own opinions and start interacting with others, building something new together. I studied law to get a decent overview of human interactions' current framework and try to glimpse their underlying core principles and drivers. The search for a macro perspective later motivated me to search for a non-traditional career path for a legal professional. I consider myself a bookworm, but one can only get so far with books, and as far as action is concerned, I believe that the most interesting (inter)action is currently to be found in the business world, especially in the tech sector. I, therefore, became interested in the transition from being a specialized lawyer to becoming a more business-oriented professional who also has to occupy himself with the ever-changing big-picture (although the minute details of certain conventions are always a part of the whole). The logic behind this transition turned out to be a sensible one when, after working for a year as an associate in a law firm, I became an internal auditor in a bank and started working on projects that required me to work on my business acumen, a task that I found deeply fulfilling. After two challenging years at the bank, I realized that I wanted to improve my existing analytical and writing skills and thus went back to school. Now, after almost two years of engaging with theory, I am ready to shake off the rust and start building something new again – DevRev!
“The urge to understand the world”
The urge to understand the world and gain passive knowledge forms a paired opposite with the desire to change it and make new things. Since my childhood, I have sought to make ideas into something tangible that can be touched, beholden, or interacted with. At first, the medium was sand, paper, or LEGO, later 3D models, computer games and simulations, or occasionally even wood or electronics. On the other hand, the allure of the unknown was always strong for me, even for details (for example, in history) that don't seem to have any practical relevance. Later at the university, I studied as a physicist, science concerned chiefly with understanding, not applying the knowledge. This way, I came to the opinion that the best results emerge where these opposites meet and the latest formal knowledge is applied to the engineering of new things while scientists deploy creativity to craft experiments and hypotheses. Now at my first job, I will take part in the creation of products for all the world to see, not just for myself or show off for friends, which fills me with excitement. Meanwhile, in the field of machine learning, perhaps understanding and everyday practice are finally inching to meet in the middle, raising my curiosity.
“Progress, not perfection”
Since I was very young, I believed that everything I do should be perfect. My motivation derived strictly from the “perfect outcome” and whenever that was not attainable a lot of negative feelings followed.
I started studying Computer science in 2018 and I remember being so excited about it. I am a person who loves fresh starts and meeting a bunch of new people. However, I ended up being terrified of failure all the time. The fun college experience I was hoping for was not fun at all. It was exhausting.
So I made a promise to myself that I will no longer place perfection on a pedestal and while working towards this goal I noticed one thing: I started enjoying the process, not just the outcome. I was curious again and eager to learn. I progressed faster and guess what? Most of the time the outcome was even better than before.
“Just because you are not constantly worried about producing the "perfect" result does not mean you are not working towards your goals.”
I found out about DevRev in August 2021 and knew straight away that this is something I want to be a part of. I am ready to embark on this journey and I feel very honored to do it with such amazing people by my side! 🥰
“I am a naturally curious person”
I'm a naturally curious person and always looking to learn something new. I'm constantly hungry for knowledge and have made major changes in my career, zealously pursuing new knowledge and experiences. I've found that expertise gained in each one provides unparalleled versatility and adaptability on new teams and solving problems others just accepted. Cooking has been a passion of mine for years because it combines technical ability, creative expression, and community. A dish can be simply made by the books following a recipe, but for me, each new recipe is a lesson providing new spice combinations or skills to master and apply to other dishes. My love for cooking comes from this improvisation, using different skills and knowledge to create new memorable dishes to share. I love building and tinkering with technology to get things just right both at work and at home. My most recent home project has been setting up my office as a studio for no other reason than I wanted to create the best home Zoom setup. I've always been someone who loves to understand why and how things work; I can't truly advocate for something without this! As a kid, my parents learned quickly not to leave me alone with anything – like the TV remote – as I would quickly disassemble it. Luckily, I've gotten much better at rebuilding the technology since then!