Looks like I just graduated from USC with a masters in Computer Science and I will be heading back to Bangalore to continue working on SMERGERS. An excerpt from the chat I had with Vishal on 25th May 2013 -
Vishal Devanath: By the time you finish, and smergers still exists and making money I would want you to come back
Krishna Bharadwaj: Sure. Hopefully you will be making a lot of money by then.
Vishal Devanath: Of course, only if I feel you can draw enough salary
Krishna Bharadwaj: Even otherwise, I will work for an year, repay the loan and come back.
SMERGERS has been doing reasonably well and though I may not be able to draw a significant salary immediately. I still feel that I will be very happy working on it. More than anything else, it is the impact which made me take this decision. We are solving the fund raising process for SMEs. Which often gets ignored by all the big investment banks.
I got this question asked several times in the last one and half year. Why MS after starting a company? Honestly, I never wanted to start another company after Refer a Geek(Employment status - It's complicated). I thought i should just work at other startups and build good software. That's what led me to join BlockBeacon and a few other startups. When Vishal approached me regarding SMERGERS, i said, what you are asking for is fairly straightforward, let me just build it in my spare time.
Vishal initially managed most of the work with the initial prototype i had built, but that is rarely the case with software. It needs constant tinkering. You have to try out new workflows every now and then, retain what works for you and throw away things which don't. I had started liking whatever i was doing for SMERGERS, but it was too late to call off my masters plan. So i came to the US and completed my masters. During the same time, we had Sagar interning with us. I can't stress how helpful it was for us. He is quick and super smart. We were very lucky to have him with us. I continued to be an advisor to the company helping Sagar build SMERGERS. He also liked what we were building, so he declined an offer from Adobe to join us full time after graduation. Which was great and we were very happy to have him with us.
Was it a good decision to come for masters?, I really don't know. But there has been a lot of learning in the past one and half year, some of the courses were good, I ended up working at USC Information Sciences Institute with a professor and I interned with Google during summer. It has made me a lot more confident than what I was. And this was the first time I stayed away from home, it was a different experience and it makes you a better person at the end of the day.
I will be leaving Los Angeles in about 2 days and I plan to spend a couple of weeks in bay area before I move to India. I will be missing some great friends and the city of Los Angeles. I look forward to a good time in Bangalore.