Hear from Akram, Who Has Been With Us Since Our Inception in 2011
For most startups, attracting the right talent, building a team and then retaining them to ensure continuity are some of the most critical challenges across. In fact, not just startups – even mid-market companies and large corporates often battle with this daunting task.
But, this is what makes today’s TeamSpeak story a fascinating tale – one of mutual trust, loyalty and bonding. As a computer science and design professional, Akram Khan joined FORMCEPT while he was still a fresher during the company’s inception in 2011. More than 7 years have rolled by, but Akram still vouches for his unparalleled experience of working with the company and being at the front seat of the new age data science revolution that FORMCEPT is driving. In this post, hear from him his early experiences, his enthralling career trajectory and the secret behind his unwavering association with FORMCEPT.
Flashback: How It All Started
For Akram, joining FORMCEPT was nothing short of an adventure. It all started when he was in the third year of his undergraduate coursework in Computer Science. An event (Storage Technology Day) was hosted by his alma mater for EMC2, in which a lot of students participated. One of the competitions was online quiz over the network. Akram was a part of the team that created the application to handle this quiz. Their application was able to handle it for around 500 students simultaneously. It was a big success. “The team which worked on the quiz was of around 11-12 students,” Akram reminisces. “But it was only myself and two other team members who worked on it, while the rest bailed out.”
Since it was a huge success and was done in a very short time frame, their professor in-charge introduced the team to FORMCEPT’s co-founder Anuj Kumar, who was still working in Oracle at that point of time. After that, Akram’s team continued to be in contact with Anuj for about one year. Anuj gave them multiple tasks to work on in order to test their skills. Eventually, Anuj became interested in Akram’s college project which was based on image recognition and was still a new thing back then.
“By end of the year, when we heard that it was going to be startup, the other two candidates lost interest and parted ways. But, I joined Anuj one week later after my college ended. It was the 5th day of July. After some initial groundwork for the company, it was incorporated in October 2011.”
But, was it easy for Akram to jump the ship?
“Believe it or not – it was. When Anuj approached me, I decided to follow my heart. There was risk, but that didn’t deter me. I had gained immense trust in them and I had always wanted to do something different with my life instead of just slogging it at an invisible desk in a big company. A unique opportunity had arrived at my doorstep and I accepted it without batting an eyelid.”
3 months later, FORMCEPT was incorporated and since then there has been no looking back for Akram.
Early Days: FORMCEPT in the Making
Right from day 1, Akram had gone into action mode alongside the co-founders. “It was still the early days and there was so much ground to be covered! We worked all week, even on Sundays. But somehow, it never felt like much pressure because I was doing what I loved. Thanks to Anuj and Suresh for keeping us inspired and motivated.”
He goes on to say how the co-founders enrolled him and other team members in their vision early on, giving them a sense of ownership and belongingness in the process. “Watching them work hard and witnessing the faith they had in the company and us was like a daily dose of caffeine for the soul.”
With flexible timings, transparent work culture and tremendous learning quotient, those early days are now his most cherished memories. The best part is that he can still see the same value system being adopted in FORMCEPT. “There is no pushing around here. Everyone is assumed to be responsible and capable. We all are learning, contributing and sharing all the time. We work as a team, reaping all its benefits but minus the sheer rigidity that exists in a large organizational set-up.”
First Customers, New Responsibilities: Light at the End of the Tunnel
Not many freshmen can claim to have rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry early in their career. Akram is one of the lucky few. “After about 2.5 years since starting up, our company landed its first customers – two of the leading brands in the world. Anywhere else, I would not have been directly involved in the project, especially in a client-facing role. But, I believe that having earned the trust and respect of Anuj and Suresh was a huge plus for me. They were confident of my capabilities and dedication and soon I was working directly on the product across its lifecycle which envisaged need-mapping, deployment, execution and user support for these two renowned clients. For 6 months, we didn’t take a single Sunday off and often worked till 11 p.m. It was the opportunity of a lifetime that we all had been waiting for, and I gave my 200% to it in every possible way. That’s the best part of how FORMCEPT augments its team members - it simply brings out the best in you.”
Akram goes on to say how loyalty is a two-way lane. Having experienced the co-founders’ fair and inclusive leadership process first-hand, he became a believer in the company and its vision more than ever. What started as a leap of faith had now become time-tested bond to be treasured.
FORMCEPT’s Success Story and Akram’s Evolving Role along the Way
Over the last few years, FORMCEPT has carved out its success story in India and the world, serving some of the leading frontrunners across diverse industries. The team has grown, and so has the list of success stories and milestones. Just this year, FORMCEPT was awarded as the Best AI Company of the Year 2019 at the Global AI Summit and Awards organized by AICRA.
But, after so many years, how does Akram manage to keep up the same motivation and enthusiasm? How has his role evolved over time?
“I still wake up in the morning and feel the same degree of motivation. It comes from pursuing your passion every day. FORMCEPT is constantly innovating, which means that each of us have to be on our toes, always. Learning is built into the DNA of our culture, and peer learning is a critical part of it. My role has evolved along this direction to a great extent. Since I have been actively involved in the product development and deployment process for so long, I help new team members understand the company, its vision, its products and its innovation roadmap. Anyone can approach anyone in FORMCEPT because of its flat hierarchy. Everyone can voice their opinions. Over the years, we have cultivated an environment that is conducive to eliciting the best from everyone. I believe that apart from working on the core product features, a key role that I shoulder today is orienting new team members to FORMCEPT’s ways and approaches. It is an incredible experience.”
Concluding Note: Key Takeaways
As the conversation comes to a close, here’s what Akram has to say to freshman graduates across the world, “Follow your heart. Even if you make mistakes, it will lead you to the right path. Take calculated risks and give your 100% to everything you do. Above all, cultivate trust, honesty and respect – these things cannot be bought with money. Play the long game; because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to take that giant leap towards FORMCEPT, which in turn has brought me where I am today.”