In the pre-final year of my college, I was doing everything that I loved — building, creating, and scaling. A couple of my friends and I were working on building CampusBox, an open-source creative network for people to share their creative work, connect to other creators on the platform, and explore great opportunities. In the summer of 2017, we had launched the application for the public and had users from across India. We started building our team, had some great interns join us on our mission of building a creative social network, and started a college outreach program through campus ambassadors from colleges across India.

But there was something that wasn’t right. On one side, we were putting the fun parts of our college life aside for a bigger purpose. On the other side, users were just not falling in love with our product. For us, this was the end of the fight — we had somehow lost the momentum that we had with CampusBox. The tussle was over for CampusBox. Its warriors were down. This wasn’t the kind of closure that we wanted. However, the whole experience of working and building CampusBox gave me more clarity about the things that I loved doing.

Homescreen of CampusBox, an open-source creative network I started with my friends from college.

Back to college

The summer of 2017 was over, and so was CampusBox. I joined back to college, but this time with more determination and hope to build great products. Conceptualizing, ideating, and creating things from scratch made me excited. I still wanted to work on something of my own. But I got influenced by my friends. And as the well-known saying goes — you are average of the five people you spend your time with.

Back in college, my friends were preparing for placements all the time. It was something that one was supposed to be part of by default in their final year of graduation. I started preparing for the placement drive and wanted to give it a shot too. I went into the world of data structures and algorithms, and I started studying stuff that I knew I will never use in real life. I cleared the first test and second round for the company and made my way through for the interview round. But actually, while I was sitting there I wondered, “Why am I answering these questions?” Later when the result came in, I was relieved that I was not selected. It was only two months after this experience that I realized that this was never meant for me.

There was no way I could join any of the corporate firms visiting my college. My enthusiastic friends with whom I had built CampusBox were still building something and fighting to continue doing what they loved.

“I had two options either be on the conquest to start our own company with my friends or join one.”

Working on CampusBox
My friends and I working on CampusBox from our garage.

How I landed at SocialCops

I had to make a difficult choice. This couldn’t be an impulsive decision that I could make based on my own convenience. After months of thinking, I finally decided to go for an internship that would give me time to figure out the next steps, give real insights of building a great company, and help me meet new people. I wanted to get my hands on improving my skills across fields — technology, design, marketing, and branding. I did not want to work in just any company, but with a company that was solving some real problems that no one ever thought about solving. This was when my friend told me about SocialCops.

I filled my application for the role of Frontend Engineering Intern at SocialCops. As part of the hiring process, I was given the challenge of visualizing ball-by-ball data of all the IPL cricket matches until season 9. I was supposed to work on a data set that had almost 150,000 rows. Before this, I had never worked with this huge amount of data. Not only I had to deal with that data but I also had to visualize it and send the solution within two days. The night I got the task I was struggling to import the data into a database, and it took me a whole night to do that. I started listing ideas that I wanted to work on in the morning and spend the night importing the data into a database. Finally, after staying awake for 36 hours without caffeine, I had some results. I was ready with my solution to share with the team.

Once I submitted my challenge, I realized how much I enjoyed the whole experience of solving the problem and working on it. This gave me an insight into the company and about their inclination towards problem-solving. This made me even more determined to secure the internship. I was waiting for the reply from SocialCops. After two more rounds of rigorous testing of my passion for building things through interviews and cultural test, I finally had the offer in my hand. For the next two months, I closely followed SocialCops’ blogs and updates on social media. Just three days before joining the internship, I got an email from SocialCops welcoming me and I came to know that SocialCops got selected for Google Launchpad. Now I was even more thrilled to join the team and this shot up my excitement level.

As an intern at SocialCops

So finally the day came to join SocialCops and I was up for the new challenges. I was here in my new office, now a citizen of SocialCops. I joined SocialCops in January of 2018 ready to take on new challenges. In the first few days, I went through the onboarding. I spent time reading through a lot of stuff about SocialCops history and how people worked in the past on our products. I got to learn about our cultural values, the “why, what, and how” of all the things that we built, and the organization inside out.

Welcoming Rohan to SocialCops
Ritu, Vipul, and Krishna from our Engineering Team welcoming me to SocialCops.

I was assigned Krishna from our Engineering Team as my buddy to answer and help me with all the questions that I had and guide me through my journey inside SocialCops. The onboarding process was something new for me. After a few days, I started with my Hack Week — a challenge to be completed in a week. I also had a session with Varun, co-founder of SocialCops, around company values and culture.

“At SocialCops, I was learning about building great companies right from the first day.”

I went through the onboarding process and loved the fact that people in the first week itself are aligned with the company’s mission and values, and learn the why of the company clearly. The best part of joining SocialCops was that I could ping anyone and have a conversation over lunch, and learn what they do best. Once Lakshay who previously worked at Airbnb, joined the Sales Team at SocialCops, I excitedly pinged him on Slack on his first day and we had a conversation the next day. This was overwhelming for me.

I was working at the forefront of technology and understanding advanced frameworks. I learned about the importance of the “user-first” approach and the design process that goes behind building products — something that I had never followed before joining SocialCops. I also learned about user research and how to design using paper and pen before starting the actual code.

One of the core values at SocialCops is “Problem First, Solution Second”. This helped me align my work towards first understanding problems and doing research before getting to solve them. While working on Collect, I learned how the team stays in touch with the customers, learns about their problems, and finds a solution for them. I learned the importance of getting the first 100 users to love your product, setting small milestones, doing the right thing, and aiming high while being sane.

Team Frontend Engineering
Frontend Engineering Team at SocialCops.

Why I stayed at SocialCops after the internship

When I joined SocialCops as a 6-month intern, I thought that I would go there to learn and then join back with my friends who were running their startup. I was obsessed with the idea of running my own company. But it was my experience here and my conversation with my mentor, Krishna, who made me realize that it’s not just about running a company. It is more about solving problems that you are passionate about. And for that, you don’t need to own a company. Over time, thinking more about this, I realized that it’s never the people who started the company, but rather a bunch of smart people who work like crazy that makes it fulfills its ideas.

Before joining SocialCops, I truly loved my work at CampusBox, building something awesome each and every day. But, the one thing that was missing was a mentor. Even the best athletes of the world need a coach to succeed. Now at SocialCops, I have those incredible people around me to learn and seek guidance from. At SocialCops, the only thing that might stop you from learning is you.

The values at SocialCops are aligned with how we used to work at the college. People give feedback about you and your work — you can walk up to anyone to give feedback and it will be valued. You can question things that you feel should be done in a certain way, and the best part is people here enjoy the fun of creating things.

I have tremendous clarity of what my top-level goal is that drives everything else in life and I truly believe that my day to day actions at SocialCops align to that top-level goal, and I am not wasting time doing things that are unrelated to the top-level goal. I am working on Collect that is used in more than 35 countries and learning the process of building great products — things that I didn’t know before coming here. Each day I begin with my end goal in mind, and SocialCops is the right place to be, surrounded with smart and highly motivated people.. Staying here, I see myself moving towards my ultimate goal of building something great that can impact the lives of billions of people from across the world. I want to be one of them — the great creators and innovators of the world.