We talked to JPA Suresh, head of technology at Hashtaag, about custom software development in IoT, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
JPA Suresh: We are doing fine. Thanks for asking. It has been a difficult time for most of us. With a five-month-old child getting stuck at home, I had to be still back in the office at the earliest for our IoT-based products, which require physical presence at the office. It was a huge risk and a challenge, but thanks to God watching over me, we safely managed to get through this phase.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Hashtaag.
JPA Suresh: In 2009, I joined the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar, as a B.Tech. Civil Engineering student and joined a Tech MNC based out of Bengaluru through campus placement as a software developer. After a while, we co-founded a social networking application, which experienced a good start and started fading slowly. During this phase of our startup stints, I got to know about Hashtaag.
Hashtaag had onboarded a very complicated yet interesting contactless-based IoT Product, which bought my interest to join Hashtaag. Along with it, we started taking up other client projects along the way. Moving up through various positions, I developed myself throughout and exposed myself to various responsibilities until I was appointed as the company’s Head of Technology last year.
How does Hashtaag innovate?
JPA Suresh: We at Hashtaag always encourage our employees to come forward with ideas, which is taken up into the Hashtaag Labs, where they will be able to research their ideas with everyone chipping in their 2 cents. This often leads to innovative ideas being born amidst the many brain-storm sessions. Sometimes, these ideas lead to an entirely new product or bring innovative solutions for our client projects.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
JPA Suresh: The major challenge that we faced was with our devices since we are dealing with research and development of IoT-based products that required physical presence and coordination at the office. Added to our difficulties, china has been the major supplier for the hardware devices, and there was no export or import between the countries.
We started researching other sources from different countries which can help us with the devices. We have currently stocked up with our devices sufficient to cater to each resource to work from their respective homes. In the meanwhile, we onboarded a couple of other services projects to stay afloat through these hard times and thanks to our few software-only projects that we had going on.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
JPA Suresh: As most of our clients come to us with IOT based projects, there is a lot of R&D that goes with our work, and it was very difficult for the team to synchronize. So we had to make the difficult choice of calling in our employees to the office, mid-pandemic. It was a difficult choice for everyone, as they had to take into consideration the safety of themselves and their family on the one hand and the fate of the fruits of their blood, sweat, and tears on the other. So the lesson that we learned from this is that experiencing hard times together makes us stronger, individually and as a whole. I am really thankful for my team, who stayed with us and supported each other at such a difficult time.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
JPA Suresh: The most important thing for us during this crisis was connecting with the team, and there were no specific new things that we started using, but the dependence on the various cloud technologies and communication and collaboration tools like G Suite, Jira, Basecamp, etc. have become much more prominent. We even started the development of our own internal employee management tool to ease up the burden and difficulties of official management work.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
JPA Suresh: We are a services company; many Entrepreneurs contact us because we discuss, debate, and challenge their own ideas on a whiteboard making them introspect. We believe in customer satisfaction by giving them industry best solutions to reach their ROI with profitability’s, this helps us to be in a niche position from the rest of the world. As long as there is no lack of entrepreneurs in the world, we will always be in the game.
Your final thoughts?
JPA Suresh: The post-pandemic world will definitely not be the same as before. The world, the way in which it functions, is changing, and we have to adapt to these changes as we come to live in it. It is frightening and difficult, but it has also created a lot of new opportunities for us to explore.
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