HackerEarth has been focused on one goal – to make technical recruitment simple and efficient.
Started by two college friends from IIT Roorkee- Sachin Gupta and Vivek Prakash, HackerEarth is today the largest developer community in India, where developers solve problems to improve their programming skills, participate in challenges/hackathons, network with other developers and discover the jobs they deserve. We chat with the HackerEarth, CEO and co-founder, Sachin Gupta.
An excerpt from the interview:
- What made you start your venture?
The seeds for HackerEarth were laid when we were in college itself. This dates back to December of 2011, it was the campus placement season at IIT Roorkee.
Campus placements are generally a frenzy at IITs, the top students always get picked on the first or second day itself. There was a friend of ours, who was top of the batch, and contrary to what everyone was expected, he wasn’t hired by any of the top companies. This came as a shock to us because he was definitely one of the best programmers in our batch and the kind of person any top company would want to hire.
We realized that the problem was not with this candidate but in the evaluation process of the hiring companies. There is a lack of objectivity in the hiring process and pedigree and work experience continues to be a proxy for skills, because of which, many good candidates do not end up getting hired. Motivated by this incident, we decided to build a system that is completely merit-based and democratizes the process of technical hiring.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
HackerEarth’s biggest asset and the reason for success has been its rapidly growing community. Developers with all kinds of interests and skillsets are part of our community. These developers are highly engaged on the platform and come back daily to solve problems and improve their skills.
The community combined with a skill-based approach to hiring and use of intelligent algorithms and data science to match a candidate’s skill sets to a company’s job requirement, gives us a strong competitive edge.
Apart from our assessment tool, HackerEarth Recruit, we have also launched two new products. One is a cloud-based Hackathon management tool, HackerEarth Sprint that runs on AWS. We have also launched a video interview tool which is again running on AWS cloud platform.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge in the coming years is going to be scaling our community of programmers and keeping them engaged on HackerEarth. The stronger the community, the easier the business operations. Everything stems from the community and scaling it across the world is going to be the biggest challenge.
Some of our key learning from running HackerEarth are
Hiring right people is the key – From the very first day the biggest challenge is to hire the right people. As the company starts scaling you realize that more and more work starts to be delegated to people outside the core founding team, and you need to hire the people who are as zealous about the work as you are. It’s fairly easy to create a good culture when there are only 5 people in the team, but the real challenge comes when you scale beyond, maintaining the company culture is now, not in only your hands but also depends on your team.
Setting goals and being metrics-driven – Start-ups by their very definition are chaotic. Things are highly unpredictable and the course of the company changes on a daily basis. Amidst all this chaos and dynamic state of affairs, it’s highly imperative to have a set of short term and long terms goals consistently measure the overall progress against the targets that are set.
Thinking big – The toughest challenge among of all of them is to think big every stage of the company. It’s very easy to become complacent after you raise your big round of funding, or you start hitting a steady monthly revenue but what’s important is to constantly break tout of your comfort zone and do things that scales the organization, even if it means doing things that are uncomfortable.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
Our seed investor Prime Venture Partners work with us very closely. The support and guidance we received from Prime have helped us understand the complexities involved in building a business. Important business aspects such as product management, team building, marketing, media and PR, creating a sound working culture among others are some of the areas in which Prime Venture Partners mentors us.
- Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
HackerEarth is completely built on top of open source technologies. Our tech stack is on Python/Django. Django has helped us to quickly build a highly scalable and robust web application that supports millions of requests today. There are other open source technologies like Apache Thrift, Apache Kafka, ELK, RabbitMQ, Memcached, Redis etc which have been critical for us to build a highly complex architecture.
We are hosted on AWS and that has helped us to scale rapidly over the past 2 years.
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
The best strategy for Customer Satisfaction is to build a world class product. Best products are those which are highly intuitive to a user and don’t have a steep learning curve. Hence design and user experience has always been central to HackerEarth. However an excellent product still needs to be supported by a responsive customer support. We try to be very prompt with any user/customer query that we get, and implement whatever feedback we get to improve the customer experience.
With respect to expansion, we are looking to grow our community in North America and South East Asia. We have already started making inroads into these geographies.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
The top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur are
Persistence: Companies are not built in a day, persistence is what differentiates between a successful entrepreneur and one who failed.
Hard Work: Ideas are worth a dime, execution is the key. An entrepreneur works almost twice the amount of what they would do in a regular job.
Leadership: Entrepreneurs have to be leaders. When you build a start-up you have to build a team, you have to motivate people, you have to inspire them, and you have to sell them a vision.
Visit their Website: https://www.hackerearth.com/
Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HackerEarth