In a start-up, or what I now sometimes refer to us as – ‘an early stage company’, most of our time is spent looking forward : planning on new things to be taken care of or explored, laying down and chasing targets, experimenting and innovating, striving to be a better team, etc. However, once in a while its good to reflect and look back through the chaos and appreciate the bright silver linings, just to even see how the dots would connect.
As Steve Jobs said it, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” In him and us we trust.
Anyhoo, without further ado, presenting to you, in no particular order, 10 awesome things that happened to us this last year : )
1.We shifted out of our comfort zone to Pune:
We started out in 2010, out of Delhi and Mumbai, with a strong business acumen. We set out to do ‘dhandha, organize an industry and do what it takes! We soon realized our mistake of initially outsourcing our tech, and subsequently built an awesome in-house core technology team in 2011. By the end of 2012 we had shifted our headquarters from the country’s capital to, what we’d like to call, the country’s silicon valley. We found ourselves a nice big duplex row-house that now hosts 12 team members. Some of us often even use it as a crash-pad to accommodate an energized start-up culture.
The shift came with our core strategy and tech team, and more importantly a shift in attitude and pace. It was 2013 that saw the fruits of it, where we revamped our platform and regularly launched new products and features. An important part of the growth we have seen this year is credit to this shift, the rest of course goes out to our determined business and operations teams out of Delhi, Mumbai and most recently Bangalore.
2. We got together for a non-stop 72 hour meet:
Our Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune teams converged for our annual ‘team days’. It was an extreme 3 days of work and team bonding. We also manged to keep it a dry event (the entertainment being substituted with fun team building games) resulting into high energy sessions. The agenda was, even to our surprise, managed within the allotted times. Key take-backs included a hard-hitting session where we were brutally honest with each other and a future road-map session that left us with a combined vision and an eager team to achieve our goals.
3. We went back to having fun and games:
Other than the intense team corridor-gully cricket sessions, we closed the year by gamifying the student user’s experience, making it fun, customized and rewarding. As a young team, we still know what it was like to be in college, where life was fun and games, and things functioned last minute. We used the understanding of this and ever reliable data to define algorithms that makes every user’s learning and experience unique.
The launch of our Credits as Letsintern currency that can be used to apply to the different types of opportunities available on the platform and Badges that help deserving students stand out better in front of Employers have taken off well.
4.We got ourselves Kishore Bhaiya, our very own chef:
Since the beginning of mankind, okay fine, our not-so-very long student bachelor lives and careers, we depended on tiffins, cheap meals from the nearby restaurants, Maggi and Zomato’s search engine, in the name of junk food. In July, we brought in (drum rolls please) Kishore Bhaiya, who not only makes sure we’re a well-fed, but also runs errands, maintains the office space and pays heed to any of our other needs (read: chilled beer).
We brainstorm with ideas and strategies to make Lesintern better, over platters of weekly chicken, dosas, omelettes, evening snacks and even cups of green tea for the health conscious lot. : ) We don’t leave office early, step in late, work harder, save money and get healthier home-made food. Now you know our secret. We owe an 8% increase in productivity to Kishore Bhaiya! : )
5.We went deeper inside India:
After having done well in major Tier-1 & most Tier 2 cities, this year we went further to explore the amazing potential in smaller cities and towns. Our college associations and networks extended to over 2000 colleges in India. Over 60 percent of our student user base now hails from the non-metros.
6. We fought:
One of the things that being part of a young team is that we are never short on ego, ideas and enthusiasm. Every one has a mind of their own and way of doing things. This year too, we fought on strategies, on the best approach, on office culture, on things that mattered in the long run. We let go of our egos as individuals and learnt from it to move forward, to give the best shot there is. We pulled each other out of comfort zones and worked together with the true LETS attitude.
7. We got knocked out:
Our site went down for the first time! We learnt that no matter how much you make sure things work out perfectly, sometimes they just won’t and we need to be prepared for that. We were out for almost half a day, thanks to a server problem with one of the world’s biggest hosting sites!! #$%^#. Anyway, more importantly we were able to come back into action, sooner than we expected, without any data loss and a “you’re never gonna keep me down” mindset.
8. We went mobile:
Almost 62 percent of people across the country today use Android on their smartphones and the students on our platform weren’t certainly behind! After seeing the hike in Android users on our platform from 2 percent to 12 percent in one year, we launched the Letsintern mobile app on Android, 4 months ago, so that students can stay updated with all the latest internship and job opportunities on the platform, while on the go. We were met with a great response and since then, the app has become number 1 worldwide in its segment on Google Play, has been downloaded 6000+ times and has 100+ ratings with an average of 4.2.
9. We grew, significantly:
Growth is the very essence of a start-up.
While everything was super exciting in our first year – the first time we registered our company, our initial team members, our first big clients, the first media coverage, our first office and so on. It all seemed like growth, and it was. However, by the third year, in the journey, ‘growth’ has come to mean more.
In 2013, growth has been about growing our value proposition and the number of amazing people we take it to. In pure numbers: Letsintern was visited by over 100,000 users every month. Close to 80,0000 opportunities, in the form of full-time & part-time internships, brand ambassador programs, virtual, volunteer & fresher jobs, were offered by 5000+ employers. A total of 1,90,000+ applications. Over 24,000 students, from 34+ cities across the country, successfully availed these life altering experiences through Letsintern. As our reach and numbers grew, so did our ambitions.
10. We are left with wanting more:
Our ambitions grew to us wanting more from us, for the students of India, for the students of the World. Yes, we are left with the goal of wanting to go global. We are looking at problems and solutions in a more wholesome way. We are thinking beyond only internships. We are thinking and building technology that will revolutionize the way students understand and approach their careers. Watch this space for more.
Until then, on behalf of my beloved team: