A journey of Immigrant to Startup Founder

About 21 years ago, I remember sitting and writing code for an EDA (Electronic Design Automation) software company in Noida, India. As a graduate from IIT Delhi, I vividly remember enjoying my first year of employment with many of my friends, talking and dreaming about ‘Silicon Valley’, both in the bay area and the one in Bangalore, India. The Indian startup scene was not as vibrant at that time and the next step for many IITans was to work in large organizations in India or study/work in the USA.

Before I knew it, two of my very good friends had received offers from a small Bay Area startup and were urging me to apply for a role they felt could be a great fit for me. Without much hesitation, which in retrospect might have been out of curiosity, or maybe it was just the next logical thing to do, I applied. To this day, I still remember the interview process where I talked to a senior engineer, among many, over the phone (yes, this was pre-zoom, pre-skype world) and was impressed by the interview approach and how comfortable she made me feel before asking me some tough but relevant questions around Java and C++. Within less than a week, I received the job offer and just like that, I was in mountain view, California.

It is incredible to reflect and acknowledge that I have been in the technology industry in the Bay Area, for what is now, more than 20 years and counting. I have always been intrigued by technology and it’s many challenges and the curiosity has never subsided. Having said that, “How to build it?” is important but “Who to build it with?” is equally important to me and a key factor in building companies. I have been fortunate enough to have worked in some very successful companies like Imparto (bought by Primus), Rapt (bought by Microsoft), and Krux (bought by Salesforce), all of which have given me the opportunity to succeed alongside smart, collaborative and hard-working teammates. As an immigrant, I reflect on my journey and I am thankful for the opportunities, challenges, and successes that I have shared with many in this land of opportunities. Today more than ever, I hope that we as a nation do not take a step back but rather think about the long term positive impact of immigration and continue to move forward, connect across differences and create spaces where all have a sense of belonging — and this leads me to today.

Currently, I have the privilege of co-founding and leading technology development at Eskalera. In my role, I have the opportunity to apply my past experiences and knowledge to build technology that transforms Human Resources and disrupts the HR Tech industry and build it with people who enjoy a challenge and are determined to make an impact. We are building technology to help organizations engage employees when it matters most and generate unique insights into employees’ experiences, giving leaders a continuous, granular, and authentic view of their employees. You cannot change what you do not measure and our technology provides this measurement to help companies cultivate and improve culture. Every day, I am energized to build something that is positively impacting cultural change within organizations. It is an absolute delight to do it with a diverse group of people who share the same dreams and aspirations and are taking steps together on this journey.

As we are building the technology, there are three key things that we believe are the foundation for building a sustainable technology business.

First and foremost, we have built an open-tech ecosystem that is data-source agnostic. We have built an integration platform that allows us to integrate with all types of HRIS (Human Resource Information System) and other HR data. If you think about the 3Vs of big data (Volume, Variety, and Velocity), we have built a platform that supports all of them. Being in Marketing technology at Krux where we used to collect, clean, and process petabytes of data and integrate with 100s of different partners, we have taken that experience and learnings and built a robust platform for seamless integrations in the HR Tech space.

Secondly, we have designed our system with Consent, Privacy, and Security in mind. For example, we have segregated the application database and the insights data completely. We have application databases where everything that the employee tells us is stored securely and encrypted. Then we have a completely separate insights database where we de-identify the employees and aggregate their data for insights. Even if someone had a key to both databases, it will be almost impossible to connect the two together. We understand that gaining employee trust is paramount and we strive to earn and maintain that trust with the right use of technology.

Finally, we have built a robust AI and ML layer to gain insights from the employee interactions. These interactions are not limited to what they are saying in the platform — we are also gaining data points from the different integrations; the more integrations, the richer the data points. Our vision is to expose all of these as external APIs that allow an open-tech ecosystem, engage and empower employees, and elevate organizations to build a more inclusive culture. Technology is the gateway to richer employee experiences, meaningful and sustainable cultural change, and ultimately, long-term organizational growth. If you’re ready to move culture forward, sign up for our 3-month complimentary D&I Training or contact us for a demo!

Stay tuned for my next post, where I will delve a bit deeper into architecture and technology buildup for startups and how you need to evolve as your client’s needs evolve over time.

Originally published at https://eskalera.com on July 29, 2020.