Hobby Projects ft. Rachit Gulati | Episode 2

September 12, 2019

In episode 2, Rachit Gulati from Microsoft joins Tanay to talk about how he got started with hobby projects and how they helped..

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Software Engineer 2 at Microsoft

Rachit Gulati

In episode 2, Rachit Gulati from Microsoft joins Tanay to talk about how he got started with hobby projects and how they helped him in cracking interviews. Rachit goes on to explain how once can go about doing hobby projects and benefit from them.

Strategy around Hobby Projects

The guest of today’s podcast is Rachit Gulati who works at Microsoft. Rachit says that he has a lot of problems that motivate him to work on side projects. He likes going on a trek or hang out with friends when he is not coding.

“Tanay starts the conversation by Rachit’s interview experience at Microsoft and how doing hobby projects landed him a job”

Rachit tells us about the time when he was interviewing for Microsoft and one of the rounds didn’t go well. But Microsoft decided to give him another chance because of the side projects he has made. This shows how hobby projects enhance the credibility of your profile and provide you a cutting edge in technical interviews.

“Can you tell about your project where you have around 3 lakh students using your product?”

Rachit tells us about his first hobby project, an android application which he made using Eclipse. People were wondering how one can make an app on a notebook with 2GB of RAM and an Intel Atom processor?

I guess things become possible when you’re determined to do it.

Rachit’s application helps in revising concepts before an interview by providing a list of questions categorized by topics such as database, algorithms or basic computer programming. “The UI of the app is not good but the idea here to complete the project and it should serve a purpose. When you have an idea and you build something, you learn a lot not just on the idea but around the idea too.”, Rachit added.

“What would you advise to someone who does not have an idea and wants to build something?”

Rachit talks about multiple ways to get started on projects whether you know programming or not. These are as follows:

  • The first attempt can be going out and explore. Be vulnerable, get out of your comfort zone and explore the possibilities. Decide if you want to collaborate on something or build something yourself.
  • If you want to collaborate, you can go to GitHub and search for trending projects that have been launched recently. People are usually looking for active collaborators and that’s an opportunity.
  • You can also search for flags like “myfirstissue” or “beginners” on GitHub for first-time comers.
  • If you don’t know programming then you can contact people and tell them you are interested to work on that project. There are other ways to collaborate like writing documentation, designing the landing page, etc.

The key takeaway here is to Not plan too much and start executing from the very first day.

Everybody has problems that need solving.

Rachit wanted to highlight key points on web pages which enabled him to make a highlighter chrome extension. There were other tools but not exactly what Rachit wanted. The problem that Rachit had was common to many people and this made his product the trending product of the day on Product Hunt.

I have an idea, I know some programming but I can’t make a full-stack app. What should be the approach here?

  • Draft down the basic version of that idea. Simplify it to its minimum and write about it in simple words.
  • Draw it on paper and examine how it will look.
  • Choose a tech stack that you either want to learn or you’re familiar with then start building just the core functionality only.

Three things that any product need is:-

  1. Feedback form: Know the pros and cons of your product.
  2. Feature request: Know what the user really wants.
  3. Analytics: Know your users better and try to optimize for better user experience.

Tanay adds not to dive into coding at day 1 but first do the research and bake your idea well then make it. And we got our first quote fro the talk- “Bake it then Make it”.

What do you think about discovery? When and how to launch a product?

Rachit describes why the time and day of launching an idea is crucial. When you have invested hours on a product, it becomes really important that it reaches as many people as possible. The key takeaways are: –

  • Launching a product on a day when there are chances of people being busy is not a good idea. Weekends are supposed to be spent with family or friend so should avoid launching on weekends. Monday is also not a good fit as people just came after a weekend and there is a lot to catch up. Anything between Tuesday to Thursday is a good choice.
  • Now, optimize the time based on your market and timezone. Try to reach a lot of people. Launch on multiple sites, reach out to people and ask for feedback.
  • The first version will be the basic features just to learn about the idea and the market. Then you can gather the feedback and start working on the next version to monetize the product and earn from it.

“The first version is to Learn, the second version is to Earn”. This marks the second quote from this talk.

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