You know that old saying, “If you want something done right, you’d better do it yourself?” Well, that’s my story and that’s why four years ago I launched igocki — a company that helps customers solve problems through technology.
In a couple of my previous jobs I had almost always ended up frustrated by vendors. The first conversations would always be so great, but the follow-on experience would run the gamut from awful to flat-out miserable.
Time and again, I would try to reform and improve my vendors, but with little success. I remember, near the end, walking into my boss’s office and throwing up my hands, asking him how we could possibly ensure what we were promised would actually end up being what we got.
He said, “Look Nishant, you know the only way to get something done right, the way you want it, is to do it yourself.”
He was right, but I don't think he realized how right, until I took his advice and went out on my own.
The key, to me, was that people would make all kinds of promises, but they never actually worked through a design process and strategy to fulfill those promises. There’s a strong “rent-a-coder” model in the business — people who want your money, so they’ll say “Yeah! We’ll do that!” without any thought of whether it’s even worth doing to begin with, or why!
That’s why, if you look at the igocki logo, you’ll see four orange-ish object and one green. We’ve got a five step process when most other places have only four. Our addition asks the question: “Why?”
The first steps discover what our client is trying to achieve, what are their goals, how do these goals fit into their general strategy? We try to find the common pain points and empathy — we want to be able to honestly say, “I remember having that same problem.”
Once we’ve done that, we move into the design process. This is where the magic truly happens (if you’ll let me get away with saying that), and we try to work things out from a solution standing — What’s the best way to address these problems? Then we move on to the develop and deploy, which is common for most custom software companies.
Our whole process is about innovation. But it is also about purpose. And the two go hand-in-hand. It is the only way we can make sure we have achieved our objectives. That’s where the fifth step comes in, which is the “demonstrate” step. Here we ensure if everything we flushed out in the design process actually achieves the goals that our clients are trying to accomplish.
I like to say we’re a solution-centric company. We are not platform-based or device-based; there’s no specific language or technology we are devoted to. We look to see what best suits the client — maybe just iOS, because they’ve got hipster users who are devoted to Apple. Or, to go totally the other way, maybe it’s a situation that doesn’t need mobile at all, because too much processing power is needed — maybe it’s a rare case where desktop is the way to go.
Maybe we need a beacon and an electronic billboard. Maybe we need a drone. Who knows? We know that we don’t until we’ve done our due diligence while keeping an entirely open mind.
We know that devices will almost always play a part, but, on the other hand, we don’t want people to see us as a “software development” company because it’s not just software that we’re dealing with. Soon you’ll be talking to your refrigerator, or to a wireless device on the other side of the world about tremors in the ocean.
igocki isn’t all things to all people when it comes to solutions. I’ve had people who think we’re an IT services company. But no; I don’t fix a virus you downloaded from an email by mistake.
People ask if we’re a consultancy, but I don’t think so. Not anymore. The first three years, I would have said yes. We advised people on what to do when they needed a technical solution to a business challenge. But now, I want people to be able to come to us and get everything. We want to advise, build and deploy. We want to ensure our objectives are met.
A lot of times, with consultancies, they help deliver the baby, then hand her over to you, and “boom!’ the next nine months are on you. What we say, now, is that we’ll come home with the baby, help change the diapers, wake up and feed her, take her for a walk in the stroller, the whole nine yards.
That way, by the time the baby is ready to walk, if she’s not walking, then something’s gone wrong. If we haven’t solved your problem, somebody’s done something wrong. Then we start figuring out who it is and why, and we solve that. We don’t walk away.
We’re hired guns. Usually if a company hires us, it’s more than likely they don’t have an internal development team. But there are also situations where a business does have an internal development team, they just don’t have our expertise in the area they need. They need a specialist. Not everyone can build an iOS or Android app. So we end up a supplement to an internal development team. Or we become the tech wing of a startup that wants to get off the ground. In every situation, we come equipped to solve problems.
Right now, igocki is a five-person team, based in San Antonio, Central Texas, and we’re one month deep in our brave new world of being more hands-on with our clients and it’s going well. The team is awesome and I get to watch them grow.
We’re also looking at product development, and that’s more of an internal thing that will give us more leverage to control our destiny. We’re working with a few researchers to help us figure out which direction to go and the viability of the ideas we’re exploring.
My background is international, but I’m an American and proud of it. I was born in India, but at 10 months my father moved my family to Abu Dhabi. I grew up in Abu Dhabi for 18 years. Then for college, I moved to the United States, studied Mechanical Engineering at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. My dad was a mechanical engineer, and like any good Indian son, I wanted to follow in his footsteps, but discovered that it wasn’t for me.
So I went into architecture because I wanted to fulfill my creative side. I thought architecture was for me, and in a way it was, but I wasn’t for architecture, sadly. To be the kind of architect I wanted to be, you have to constantly deal with people who want to suppress every creative fiber of your being. It’s a drag.
So that’s how I got into computers. I started working on programming, and it really grabbed me. I was rejuvenated! It rushed over me, like “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager! I love this, and I didn’t even know it existed like this and, hey, I can make money with it!” It opened up a whole new world for me, and I’ve never looked back because I had no need to look back.
That said, it’s not like there weren’t some challenging times. I graduated in Spring of 2002, right after 9/11 and the dot.com bust. The economy was tight and people were….wary of international students, let’s say.
So I became a systems security consultant, then gradually, over the next couple years, worked my way back into software. I guess I’ve got Steve Jobs and the iPod to thank for that. People started talking about software again, talking about something other than Amazon or eBay.
As for life in Texas, it’s more than okay. San Antonio has always had a diverse population, I feel comfortable and the tech crowd is smart and deep. It’s a great place to raise a family. My wife (of 13 years) and I have 7 children, 6 boys and a girl. I love hanging out with them, that’s pretty much my spare time. People call us crazy, and I say, “Gesundheit”.
I love cooking, playing football — American football — video games with our sons and travelling the world. I had the great opportunity to take my daughter to India and Singapore earlier this year.
I love watching my kids growing into modern day geeks. Now I get to relive some of my childhood with them going through Animaniacs, Avengers, TMNT, Transformers Prime on Netflix. Any movie we watch, we become the main characters. In Marvel Avengers, I’m Tony Stark, in Autobots, I am Optimus Prime, in TMNT, I am master Splinter, you get the idea. Something I never imagined, but here I am. It’s amazing and fun, all at the same time. This is the life I get to live.
I’m really impressed by 7CTOs and love what they’re doing. I wanted to bring something new and original to the organization and this blog, so I thought I’d offer my current favorite recipe, an original Thai eggplant pork meal that I conjured up. I’m a big eggplant fan, it’s a superfood, fills me up without messing me up, but tamarind is the key ingredient. One of my other dreams is to start a sauce company based around tamarind with my sons. So we came up with an awesome Tamarind sauce that we use in this recipe. But that’s a whole different story. For now, I’ll just leave you with the recipe. Let me know if you try it and how you like it.
MaThai Eggplant Pork Recipe
(Mathai is Mathew in my native tongue)
2 cups of pork, marinate with soy sauce for about 30 minutes. Right before you fry it up, add cornstarch and a whole egg and mix it all up. Make sure it is thoroughly coated. Fry it in a hot pot with oil. Do not constantly stir. Let it brown and crisp before flipping it. As Gordon Ramsay would say, “When it’s brown it’s cooked, when it’s black it’s %@#@$ed!”
Eggplant, chop the eggplant into manageable bite sizes (do not chop). Oil them well and spread it on a baking sheet. Put it in the oven on “Bake” at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Take it out of the oven, drizzle ponzu sauce, mix well and put it back in the oven on “Broil” for about 15 minutes. Make sure you periodically check it. You want roasted, not burnt!
After you fry the pork, use the remaining oil on high to cook your vegetables. I use red and yellow peppers, 1 yellow onion and bamboo shoots. As you stir fry your vegetables, make sure you put each aside when done so you don’t overcook the vegetables.
Tamarind Sauce: This is best with a block of tamarind from an Indian store. Or you could get a bag of concentrated tamarind sauce. Boil the tamarind in hot water. Squeeze the liquid through a sieve. Then boil jaggery (an asian sugar, you can use palm sugar instead) into the tamarind water, add a 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, teaspoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar. You should get about 2 cups of the sauce.
Get your pot going on high. Add oil and wait for it to heat up. Add chopped garlic and ginger, chilli paste (like a sambal), thai red chillies and fry em up. Add a half cup of fish sauce, a cup of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of palm sugar. Chop fresh kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and thai basil and add to the sauce. You can get this at the store ready-made with shrimp paste. Add the tamarind sauce and bring the sauce to a boil.
Add Sriracha, salt and pepper to your taste.
Finish it off: Add the pork and eggplant together, let cook for about 10 minutes, then add the rest of your vegetables that you previously stir fried. Let it all come together in 10 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.