Okay. I can't believe I am writing a blog. I am Sath, the co-founder at Kula, who is supposed to build the platform for our super-eager (and very awesome) alpha customers, but here I am, writing a blog on my story of how I left the cushiest job of my career and become a co-founder, trusting an old friend, and a burning problem.
The tl;dr version:
- Trusted Achu as the best recruiter and a great human
- Have faced the problem all through my career as a hiring manager
- The opportunity to build a no-compromise tech-team culture
Pro-tip: Don't start a company with friends, you would never know when work ends and the fun begins. Or vice-versa. And you’d never be the boss. Never.
If you're still reading, for some reason you're interested. So let me tell you the story of when I first met Achu, how we became friends, and how he made me commit to Kula at a time when I just had the biggest life-changing event.
Reason#1: Achu and his passion for recruitment
I first met Achu in 2014 when he joined as one of the first full-time recruiters in Freshworks. Up until that point, Girish was running most of the recruiting by himself. Achu has huge shoes to fill in, and boy did he ace that.
My fondest memories of him were all the fun we had during our campus hiring. If my memory serves me right, we might have interviewed around 200 people in one single day. Later, Achu and I collaborated closely in hiring the first 10 members of the team who went on to make Freshcaller a million-dollar product.
Since then, I knew Achu will go down in history as one of the best recruiters the industry has seen. Today, I would say, my bet wasn't too off.
Reason#2: The challenges of my past life
Recounting the last decade as a hiring manager, hiring has been one of the things you hate for being incredibly inefficient. For instance, I had to do a daily and weekly debrief with my Talent Acquisition business partner to understand how many candidates were sourced, how many were screened, moved to interview, and offered - all to understand how the pipeline is moving and if it is even moving.
When Achu explained in detail the pain points he and his fellow recruiters and his hiring manager counterparts have been through, I found myself nodding on how many of the same pain points I’ve gone through as a hiring manager.
As a hiring manager, if I had Kula, I would have had more visibility and fewer meetings. I would have appreciated the hard work put in by recruiters much more.
Reason #3: Building Tech@Kula, the right way
This is the most exciting piece for me. Defining and building the ethos, culture, and foundations of the tech team. I am overwhelmed even writing that sentence. I can ramble on and on about it, however, I will leave you with the 3 guiding principles for Tech@Kula.
Security isn't an after-thought for us
Most startup playbooks advise you to launch the MUP (most usable product) and iterate, we did the counter-intuitive. We focussed on building Kula with the best security and privacy practices from Day 0. We are already in the final stages of being SOC2 Type 1 compliant and we expect to invest further in data compliance and security as we grow. When we took a step back and reflected on how treating this as the number 1 guiding principle, we couldn’t be more proud of the various learnings from this and how it shaped how we think about architecture.
Delighting customers is always the top priority
Before we began building Kula, Achu showcased a bunch of HR-tech products in the market and none of them wowed us as a product. All of them felt outdated. We didn't want any of that. We wanted Kula to be the product that recruiters love logging in first thing in the morning and feel satisfied at the end of the day with a job well-done. To achieve this goal, just piling up feature after feature is not sufficient, it has to be something that delights them. This guiding principle had a massive impact on our prioritization. Whenever we were conflicted about a priority, this principle guided us in the right direction.
If you'd like to, you can also check out what we've built here.
Move faster and reflect
Moving faster and “breaking things” just don’t sit well with us. We acknowledge that it’s very critical to move faster as an early-stage company, but sustainably so. We always take a step back, reflect on what was done, how long will the current decisions hold and when should we revisit this. And we document these. This has allowed us to make the right trade-offs.
And that’s the story of how on an evening in March 2021, few weeks after I became a father and decided I will stay put at my then job and not bring too many changes in my life at once, Achu recruited me as his co-founder for Kula.
The road ahead
I realize that as a co-founder, I have a big responsibility in ensuring that our engineering organization is highly aligned with the business goals and ensuring that all the engineers have complete transparency and clarity on what our plans and challenges are, so they can tell us how best to solve the challenge at hand.
To this end, I would love to build an engineering organization that thrives on high autonomy and enables learning from building Kula together and having fun in the process. Our hiring practices are guided by this principle as well. We look for someone that all of us can learn from and grow together.
I’m mighty proud and often get emotional about the team we have put together so far, who all stood with us despite trying times and passionately hustled as business owners to launch the product.