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Sunil Kumar
Sunil Kumar

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Things I've learnt in 5 years of my career and where (I think) I'm headed

Hello awesome people. Next month I'm going to complete 5 years of my professional career and I wanted to share my journey so far and what I want to do next!

After graduating in 2014, I joined SAP Labs India Pvt Ltd, as an Associate Developer. I had no clue where I was headed. I was confused what I wanted to do with my life. I worked on interesting things like micro services development in Java/Spring. I worked on uninteresting things like ABAP too, which is SAP's in house programming language. I was not learning much here, because you know how it is like in big companies. We took more than a year to implement a simple micro service. After a year into working at SAP, out of peer pressure, I started preparing for GRE and TOEFL exams thinking I'll do Masters just like my friends. At this point my thought was that life in US was cool and I can earn a lot if I go to the US. After taking both the exams and getting decent scores I lost interest in pursuing this idea further. By this time I had completed 2 years in this company.

Suddenly I had no idea what to do next. I started preparing for interviews since I was feeling stagnant with my career. I prepared hard. I left SAP after 2 years and 8 months and joined Tivo as a Software Engineer.

I got more than 100% hike in Tivo and I was very happy when I joined here. Tivo had just started their development center in Bangalore, India. Most of the people were new and nobody knew how the systems worked. Initially I worked mainly on fixing bugs. I really hated the tech stack here. Even after waiting for around 6 months, we never really got interesting things to work on in our team. This is when I realised money is not important at all if you're not enjoying your work on a daily basis.

I started preparing for interviews again. After months of preparations, I got job offers from two companies: Plivo and Amazon India. I've always wanted to work in a startup. So I joined Plivo as SDE I. For someone coming from big companies like SAP and TiVo, Plivo was very intimidating. In startups you get lot of responsibilities and you'll have to deliver features quickly. Compared to big companies, startups move in much faster pace.

Initially I was very nervous when I had to add new features to existing services which were very critical in Plivo's business. Slowly I started gaining confidence and started owning big features end to end and delivering them on time. I started to like my work and enjoyed going to office. After around 8 months, I even got promoted to SDE II for all the hard work I was putting in.

Although I was enjoying the work, I was still not completely happy. I still hadn't figured out what I really wanted with my life. Recently I came across this video of Pieter Levels - Turning Side Projects into Profitable Startups in which he explains how to build small products and make money out of them. He even talks about how he built his Indie startup Nomad List. Until this point I had no idea what a indie startup was. I had always loved building small products since my college time and this video was an eye opener for me and Pieter Levels became my hero.

In indie startups, you solve a niche problem and make money out of it. The intention is not to raise funds like typical startups and grow big, but to become financially independent and work on something you love on a daily basis. I started researching on indie startups and came to know about couple of famous websites like Product Hunt and Indie Hackers. Since watching Pieter Levels' video, I've published two products on Product Hunt which trended on their home page and have got 100+ upvotes:

This is huge for me. This has given me the confidence that I can do this indie startup thing too!

This is where I'm now. At this point, my target is to build something which thousands of users use and earn $10000+ MRR. I'm nowhere close to this goal yet. But I'm sure I'll get there one day.

I hope this article helps someone in some way to realise what they want to do in life.

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