Vol. 3
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 3

A Climb With Abhinav Keswani

December 2014

Software developer, mountain climber, bicycle rider and modern day carpenter.

In volume 3 we talk to Abhinav Keswani, CTO of Trineo who explains how his drive and determination took him on a journey around the world, where he learnt the value of courage. Bringing this lesson back to "real life" helped him to reject the corporate ladder and give birth to Trineo. Now, through building a great team and choosing to work with great clients, Trineo has become a world-class, award-winning and in-demand software house.

Abhinav Keswani--- 4 October 2014*

By Lorenzo Princi

What influenced you to get into I.T. in general and specifically software development?

So, at the outset I actually started a degree in environmental science and made that choice when I was sitting on top of a very, very large cliff in Yosemite National Park and finished my HSC. And my mum and dad did the amazing thing of shipping me off to the USA to visit my brother who was doing a PhD over here at the time.

And we did some travelling together and we were in this amazing, vast and impressive place. Yosemite is-- is just an amazing part of the world, well worth visiting and-- I stood on top of this very big cliff basically-- I mean, not climbed a cliff but gone hiking up there and thinking about what I wanted to learn about-- and I was surrounded by the natural scene and I’ve always been quite an avid, “outdoorsy” guy, so I just thought I’d, you know? Out of-- out of pure interest I’d learn about the environment and so I finished that degree and during that time I took up rock-climbing quite seriously. Did a lot of very serious stuff and I wanted to go back to climbing Yosemite and I wanted to, you know? Save up money to do so but I also-- so I started looking at my career options and what I could earn and what I could do and I actually got pretty demoralised by the kind of financial situation that a scientist would find themselves in and you know? Actually copped a lot of flak from my colleagues for not continuing with science, because I chose to do something that would fuel my urge to travel and climb and generally see the world and live the way I wanted to live.

So, because of my strong interest in statistics, mathematics and generally the use of software to solve research problems I had a chat with a couple of people while I was in Yosemite in fact again. It’s kind of a weird pivotal time both in the same part of the world. I’d finished my degree-- my first degree and I’d saved up every cent I had and I took off. Spent ten weeks climbing in Yosemite-- all the big walls of Yosemite and the surrounding area and I met all these people that were there and-- lovely people doing some amazing things and they all had these jobs that would allow them to take out time and go and do crazy cool stuff. And, you know? The jobs paid them well enough to be able to just detach from the need to work for a while and they lived life exactly the way they wished to. And that’s what sparked this fairly clinical decision to say, “alright I’ll go and get myself a job in the right field to allow that to happen,” and that’s how I ended up in computer science and so I was motivated again by making my life what I wanted it to be and over the years I did sys admin work and I realised as a system administrator, however much I loved, you know? Being in the depth of operating systems and databases and hooking up networks and machines that were doing, you know? Work in concert with each other, I realised that I was bound to a data centre, I would always be bound to a data centre or I would always be bound to things-- back then, cloud computing wasn’t really a major thing and I, you know? Running machines remotely wasn’t really the done thing, you needed to be near every physical box you were running and I couldn’t really travel the world that way and continue to-- to work and I was noticing this very early trend of remote working.

I met a guy down in Jindabyne … who was a gun software developer, lived on a farm-- with his, I don’t know, 56K modem [laughs] connection and he-- he did great work, in fact he was such a well regarded guy in his team-- he was one of the senior leaders in his team and he worked remotely from a far in a beautiful place and his did his thing and again I was inspired and I just took a chance to make a change and found time which would work and I-- I actually, you know? I-- I was at Optus when I first started properly writing code and application development. I built a platform that we used at Optus-- an underlying infrastructure platform of operating systems and databases and so on and then I started writing app code to run little web apps on that platform and I started with zero knowledge whatsoever and I really wish I’d had some good mentors at the time. I had two, very, very good colleagues I worked with and I, I recognised them as amazing guys and skillful guys but I think all three of us could have done with a bit more of-- input from the likes of the current-- of the Ruby (programming language) community actually, some of the thoughts they’d had around the way that they’d build applications and that’s why I did eventually gravitate towards the Ruby community because I was very keen on the way that-- well, how they treat each other and how they work together.

So that’s a long winded story but two major moments of inspiration that took place on, you know? Ironically on the same part of world in a pretty stark place which is Yosemite national park under the massive walls, or on top of them and yeah, here I am. Actually back in the US again, ironically.

* Due to some technical issues during the original interview, this question and the next were re-recorded on November 4, 2014.

"I chose to do something that would fuel my urge to travel and climb and generally see the world and live the way I wanted to live."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

Do you think our generation has a stronger appreciation for what we have today in terms of technology and software?

Well I guess mate, every generation has it a little easier in a sense, but then every generation has it a lot harder as well. So let me qualify that a little-- describe that-- what I mean by that. I reckon my mum and dad had less of an interrupt driven life when they were growing up. You know? Inputs from all angles, all sides-- electronic devices, connected devices-- parents who are constantly carrying a phone that’s beeping at them all the time. You know there’s plenty of input streaming into our lives today which just means we are developing shorter attention spans and so on. Whereas my mum and dad would have just had much more focused and I would consider to be a much more relaxed upbringing and-- and that would be easier but we have all these conveniences today, you know? I can jump online and buy a thing and it’s at my doorstep in two days or a day and my mum and dad would have had to figure out how to get that thing. If you couldn’t get it locally, you just never would have it.

Not-- not wanting to draw our attention to a material gain here but I’m just saying that this is the age of convenience and things are only getting more and more convenient and everybody’s not very patient I think and people don’t have a sense of perspective in terms of what it actually takes to construct a thing and get it on a plane, you know? A bus or a truck, or whatever, a ship and then send it over, you know? It’s one click purchase of a thing and it’s suppose to turn up at your door two days later. And all the little moving parts that went into play to-- and the people that went in and pitched in to get you that thing you got-- I don’t know if we recognise the effort that’s put into that today. And they would have, “back in the day”, you know? Back in our parents generation. They would have really been blown away-- had a thing arriving in the post or whatever.

And in terms of computer science specifically, I know a couple of kids, kids [laughs], early twenties, right. They’ve just come out of university and they work for me and they have a really strong sense of appreciation for fairly low-level things. I-- you know, they may-- they’ve dabbled with assembler (for assembly programming) because you get forced to do things like that at university and they mostly just ridicule it because it’s not really something that they-- they wish to learn and that’s fine, that’s pragmatic thinking I think but they’re very keen on their core knowledge you know? Their mathematics and the basis-- the foundations of what makes a good computer scientist. So that they can make effective decisions in their jobs and I guess I’ve hired some very clever kids and I call them kids again, you know? I don’t think we have a massive generation gap but we have enough of a gap and they may not have had the same depth of experience that we had, or the same kind of initial experience that we had but you hunt them down and there are members of the-- the up and coming generation that’s just coming out of university that have a very strong respect for the foundation principles of our discipline and I particularly look for that because if they don’t then-- then perhaps they-- they don’t really have an interest in what it is we are working with but then I also look for people with diverse interests so yes I-- they play the ukulele as well as-- as cut code. Or they’re very keen on brewing beer or they’re artists and musicians and they write software as well and really keen on that.

I don’t know, so I think every generation has its conveniences and hardships. The human race is such a rapidly evolving thing right now? We’re flooded with all sorts of advancements and only in the last few weeks-- I mean we’ve heard about all sorts of things, cutting loose, Ebola and-- the way the world works in terms of-- you know I might have health care around my doorstep but others don’t. Anyway-- I’m ranting a bit now but generally speaking I think that our generation had a different journey, and this generation a different journey and there is a balance in conveniences and hardships.

One major hardship of our current-- of the generations as they get younger and younger is-- is competition as in it’s getting a lot harder to complete in a larger population or in a more global population, you know? You might be-- you might live in a particular part of the world but you-- you're now-- if you’re interested in computer science, you’re really competing with every kid all over the world for a job because people are looking globally for talent so, you know? You’re not looking in your own town just because that’s where your newspaper ad goes out to. But you’re putting your word-- the word out on the internet and people are applying from all over the place and boundaries-- political boundaries, you know? In terms of visas are getting broken down, people are travelling more easily.

So I guess that’s a big-- a hardship for our-- the younger generation but I think they’re doing pretty well anyway...

“I think that our generation had a different journey, and this generation a different journey.”
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

You spent a year travelling at one point, breaking up your career. Climbing, riding and eating in places like Patagonia, Nepal and Argentina among others. How did travel change your outlook on life and your career, if at all?

I gave up a year worth of income and my income at the time was not trivial and detached from all things technology for a year as well. Who knows what I would have missed out on at that time you know? But it was the most expansive and diverse experience and-- and I-- It allowed me to then have courageous thoughts about how to shape the future and I followed through on that and I’m-- I’m glad that I did because-- I just continuously followed through on, “have courage, have courage, have courage.” Don’t, don’t-- “I don’t need to dance to someone else’s tune”. And I’m lucky, I have choice.

“It allowed me to then have courageous thoughts about how to shape the future.”
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

My parents put in such hard yards to give me an amazing foundation and platform on which to build my life and-- I had, I have choice and I could have courage and some people don’t have choice. They may have courage but they may not get what they want out of life.

I was able to use that year away as this amazing motivation to-- to then go ahead and say, “I’m going to get back to normal life, how am I going to do it without feeling like, I’ve lost something?” So-- Because it’s-- I remember day one of getting back to work, I was like-- walking into this fluorescently lit, grey, “Oh my god,” room. After having like a few weeks before climbed up a … hill in Patagonia, you know? It’s-- so, I was just able to then push in directions and ask for things I thought I deserved and-- or worked hard to then ask for the things I did deserve and it really did ultimately yield what I do today. So, in terms of both of the work that I do as well as the way I make choices. So, yeah...

“I’m going to get back to normal life, how am I going to do it without feeling like, I’ve lost something?”
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

You seemed to be on a healthy vertical climb in the corporate I.T. sphere. Why leave that behind and take the risk on starting your own company?

Yeah, I got absolutely sick of the way in which people worked, the one-- the people I was around-- I don’t mean that in any disrespectful way towards the people, I mean that in a way that-- Groups of people working in certain scenarios achieve very little and I am absolutely and fundamentally motivated by getting shit done. [Laughs]. I was getting frustrated by-- There were two things that were happening, I would work really hard and hopefully smart to get shit done and then as people realised that I was the guy that would do that, they just starting giving me their shit to get done, and their shit was never, you know, the way I would do it or-- I was ending up becoming accountable for things I wasn’t comfortable with and people get aggressive, people get stressed, people are introduced to a lot of chaos. People have agendas, people will try and push things in directions that they wish to fulfil without objective thinking and I was on this trajectory of, you know, “golden boy” that’s something that some people called me-- it was like-- I hated that term. But I-- yeah, I was on this trajectory and I just bailed because I didn’t have any satisfaction, in fact I got so stressed by it, that I couldn’t sleep at night. I spent- I spent a few months in a really bad state of health.

Just before I left on that overseas trip actually, just before I went away. And I thought I was going to blow up, I thought, “we’re going to-- the first thing we are going to do is go to Japan for a bit and then we’re going to wanderer around the Himalayas for four and half weeks straight, I’m not going to last ten days.” But ten days in, I felt bullet-proof, I felt so good, I-- I dropped all the stress and there was a fundamental realisation during that, that I couldn’t just continue to live in the same way and so I need to, to-- to just have the courage to say, “Alright, I this is how I wish to do what I do for a living and I will try and make it happen my way.” Using the observations that I have made over the years” and Trineo was born of that. “This is how we want to work, it’s maybe naive, maybe foolish, but if we do good work, then we are doing our jobs and the rest will flow from there.” And that’s how it began. Yeah...

“I thought I was going to blow up.”
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

You mentioned the struggles involved in working at a large corporation. However now being the owner of Trineo, you are not just performing for clients and trying to make a name for your business, but also to make sure you can pay your staff. How have you found that aspect of running the business?

Yes! Yeah I hate that. I hate that. Can I swear? [Laughs].

Lorenzo: Yeah, yeah, that’s why we do it this way. [Laughs].

Oh I fuckin’ hate that, it’s the worst, it’s the worst part of Trineo. It’s the worst absolutely the single most suffocating thing because I take it so seriously. I won’t hire someone until I really know that there’s longevity in the work and-- and I don’t see it as hiring people. I see as putting food on plates for families and-- and, you know? That’s pretty-- that’s pretty stressful in it’s own right and-- in the early days I guess there could-- there’s an additional element of risk to this which was when-- when most boys and girls have kids they tend to go for the safe, steady job, the nine to five, the this, the that, the house, the whatever.

I gave up the steady job and I had just bought a house and I started this little tiny company which was seeded with a small amount of cash that I and my business partner put in. So that stress was there as well and-- I guess we just made a very steady growth pattern, which was just based on sustainable extension of what we could do and as the demand for our work got higher, we hired more people and were being really lucky as well as really careful in hiring the right people, some of whom you know and that’s-- that’s just had this snowball effect but not like a snowball moving at a billion miles an hour but at a pace that’s-- that is good for us.

So, now I can look at our finances and say, you know, I have everyone’s back for a few months. I know that and if something really catastrophic was to happen, nobody would get hurt and that’s really important to me. So that’s how I try and reconcile it in my mind now. But in the early, early days, man, we were like, “I don’t know what’s going to happen next month” and that was spooky, so, yeah...

What struck me about working with Trineo was its lack of visible hierarchy and the trust shown in all the members of the team. How does your personal philosophy factor into the recruiting process to allow this? I know it can be a challenge to hire for culture in that way.

Yeah it is, there’s a-- I’ve written one job description in my life, it’s on our blog and I-- and that describes what I look for which is-- it’s entirely about the recognition that, “you’re not actually working with software, fundamentally you are working with people.” And so, “can you demonstrate the ability to do that” and then out of great relationships, can you build great software.

And-- so I look for that in people and I’m a-- I’m a reasonable judge of people, I made some mistakes and-- but I have a fairly good handle on how people conduct themselves when I meet them but I take my time, I observe them from afar, I get intel on them from people I know, I, I-- I have them join us for bits of time, I see them in Trineo, I see how they operate and then I see their reaction to Trineo as well. And two times now in the last four months-- I just hired two new guys in the last four months which is a big step forward for me and the size of my team. And they’re both amazing, and in different like ends of the spectrum amazing, as well, they do different things really, really well.

The thing is, I-- you-- yeah this one guy I worked with ages ago told me he doesn’t like hiring smart people because they’re hard to control. So I left that job like, after-- because I realised why all my efforts were getting stifled. Just the moment he said that I realised that all my work was getting stifled eventually by him because of this need to control things and I, I like controlling things but I don’t have all the answers and I know that my-- a good group of people around me would. And I’ve worked in bad teams, as in, with people who are not skillful, who have somehow managed to into a position of power or contribution that is not appropriate for their skill and background and I disrespect that. I disrespect people who allow themselves to find them-- find themselves in a position where they are going to absolutely let everybody around them down.

So I chose to build a team full of people who, you know? A, they care and they’re good people to work with and they are smart and they care and they are good people to work with and allow them to do their jobs the way they want to do them and let them contribute and we are flat in that sense, they-- what I realised after a while was that they all looked up to me.

This is a shift that’s taking place in my mind that-- I’m not going to say this as a big ego thing or anything like that but I’ve noticed that people gravitate towards me in this team. People gravitate toward the bespoke team of Trineo because something to do with the way I run it and I think it’s going pretty well therefore everybody has the sense of, “it’s a good team, it’s a great team to be a part of, Abhinav is a good tech leader.”

Moving to the other side of the world could jeopardise that and a few people in my team did say that to me but actually, the truth of the matter is, that it’s the team that sets the tone now. I seeded it, with a little couple of things and-- and I was lucky in finding the right first few people and then it’s just blossomed and actually everybody contributes towards what this thing looks like and so yes we will sit in front of a client, collaborator, partner, whoever and they won’t be able to recognise who is at the top. They’ll see my face as the-- I have the bigger photo on the Trineo website-- I’m hanging up there. So they may get a handle on the fact that I’m you know, principle consultant or whatever you’d call me these days, CTO is my latest title. But I don’t-- I won’t speak a lot necessarily, I don’t, unless I have something valuable to say, yeah, it’s good, you work with good people, you give them a chance to do a really good job then-- and then they love you for it and you love them for doing a good job and everybody wins, so, period.

"you're not actually working with software, fundamentally you are working with people... and then out of great relationships, can you build great software"
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

Trineo services are split between Salesforce and Bespoke solutions. On paper this seems very clever. How did this come about and has it been beneficial?

Yeah sure, so in the first-- the reason why it’s there, is partly accidental and partly pre-meditated. Dan, who is my business partner and I have these exact backgrounds, Dan spent-- he went away on a mission to travel, came back, ditched his job and spoke to a few people and a few people said to him, “you’ve got to check this Salesforce thing out and nobody in New Zealand and very few people in Australia know it but it’s really the big thing, it’s coming through, you really got to get into it.” So he spent a bunch of time skilling up on it and my background has always been open-source and ground up infrastructure dev-- creation or-- or software development and-- and those two things, they don’t really mix that well, in the early days they didn’t mix that well.

Salesforce is entirely proprietary, it’s a pretty locked down platform in many ways, although it’s changed a lot in the last few years but we just-- and we’re just-- you know, we’re still pretty green in some of our decision making but back then, when we first joined forces, we said, “we should split up the work this way and focus on what we are good at and spread our risk, who knows which one we can back?”

In the early days it felt like the bespoke work was going to be harder to find and so I was always open to skilling up on the Salesforce stuff and as it turns out both sides of Trineo have been going great guns, since day one, some years one is slightly higher than the other but fifty-fifty is pretty much how we’ve been going in terms of our revenue and our team sizes and our general momentum that we have.

Over the years we’ve also developed this reputation as this crew that can bring the two together. One of the first companies that the world was talking about, when Salesforce bought Heroku, there was an article that turned up on ReadWrite Web, about us and you know? There was only four of us or five of us at the time, turning up on a on a you know-- on ReadWrite Web was crazy and they were talking about it as if we were lucky or prescient in some way and maybe both-- but we’ve been lucky because the two are converging. People can see that and now our Salesforce clients say, “well you’ve done some amazing stuff over there and you can integrate it with our stuff, why don’t you just-- why don’t we just have you in and build a big picture for us--” and that’s the evolution of Trineo, it’s not one and the other, it’s just, what’s the big picture? Let’s get into it. So it’s yeah, it’s good. I’m happy as to how it’s going and how it started.

Trineo has won awards and is very much in demand—opening 4 offices in 3 countries (New Zealand, Australia, USA). Have you been able to stick to you company philosophy across the different countries and cultures?

Yeah, I think it’s-- well so far the US is pretty green for us. We have two major clients in the US and we’ve had them prior to me getting here and they look to us to set the tone. One in particular, which you know very well, we are now looked to, to taking on of the core projects and setting the direction of some things which are pretty central to what they do but that’s based on a really old and very solid, good relationship. And the other client is the same, we were actually brought in, in a tiny little scale and it quickly went, “these guys know what they are doing, give them stuff to do,” and so they’re-- they’re two very big clients as well, they’re massive corporations. The smaller guys, they’re snappier, they’re, they’re more-- they’re closer to the money they spend and so their decisions, good decisions, bad decisions, they feel good and they hurt a lot more. Sometimes more than some of the bigger clients where it’s like monopoly money at times and-- I’m not saying that the big clients take things not in a serious way but when you’re an entrepreneur or a small business it just hurts a lot more when you’re working with your own money, if you make a bad call.

So, the difference in the three markets is that, doing business in New Zealand is pretty easy going, like, people a very easy going, it’s-- there’s less work to do because it’s a smaller country. Australia is also pretty easy going, I have and old network in Australia and therefore I know a lot of people and done a lot of work there and it’s a bigger market, there’s quite a bit of work to do.

USA is crazy, there’s a lot more money to spend here, people-- there’s a much bigger market place. The people appreciate putting money towards quality work but on the other hand they also love to, like, to do shit on the cheap if they can. So, my job is to make it crystal clear that we will-- we’re pragmatic but we don’t cut corners and we, we’re you know-- you bring us in if you want to do a well considered piece of work and the best way of bringing that across is just to talk about how we work and if you choose your clients well, when you’re talking about how you work, usually they’ll be doing, “Oh, this is good, this is what we’re looking for, this is great, I’ll sleep well at night knowing that these guys operate in this manner because that’s how I like to work myself.”

So, I’ve seen that happen a few times over here in conversations that I’ve had-- people have said, “well, you guys seem to have an approach which is disciplined and you have, you know? A good team and a decent sense of humour and all these things and we-- we can do business together.” So, it’s not just the bottom line that they’re motivated by but you have to be lucky in finding clients like that.

So, long answer, summarised, is people are very similar across the three countries, you just need to filter carefully and be sure that those you work with will appreciate the way you wish to work and what you do for them. Yeah...

"you bring us in if you want to do a well considered piece of work and the best way of bringing that across is just to talk about how we work."
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

Moving to Boulder, Colorado was not just a decision for Trineo but also one for you and your family personally. How did that come about?

So in 2011, February the twenty-second, Christchurch was hit by a massive earthquake and-- I had a four month old boy, who is now four years old-- turned four years old last week and, yeah our house, was not smashed but pretty badly damaged and the town just basically turned upside down. It was horrifying and the most surreal and weird and scary experience. And, it changed, it was-- it was one of the moments where people’s lives either got shut down and then forcefully re-jigged or people sort of clung on to-- or were clinging on to what they were doing because they were kind of trying to get on with what they were doing so.

Trineo was lucky, we-- what we did was, we just picked up our laptops and went somewhere else and connected and went-- and kept going. We were lucky because we had team that went, “right, I’m going to go to my parents place in Sydney”, “I’m going off to this corner of the South Island of New Zealand,” or “I’m flying out to here. I’m getting away from Christchurch for a while, while it settles in.” And then we re-grouped in four of five months time, which is a remarkable thing to happen because there were enough of us that you could imagine the whole thing could have exploded but it exploded and we worked together and then came right back together in Christchurch.

Then living in Christchurch was awkward, so September 2011, some months after the earthquake, I went to a-- I went to a conference in San Francisco with Dan, Dreamforce, which is this massive, massive conference and directly after that I flew to Boulder to attend a tiny, two-hundred person Ruby conference called Rocky Mountain Ruby and the moment that the sun rose-- I arrived in the night-time, the sun rose on the day-- the first day in Boulder and I looked around me and I went, “Oh, fuck” and I was just like, “this-- this is it!” My brother did part of his PhD at the university here in Boulder, so he would tell me about it and he warned me as well, he said, “just steady because, it’s going to-- it’s going to do something, just, I predict something’s going to happen here.”

And at the end of that week, a guy I was with had a job in boulder and I was set-- I was offered a job as well but I couldn’t take it on because of my sense of loyalty and friendship to Dan, we were doing a thing and I wouldn’t just stop it and of course to my team. I was offered a job as a CIO at a startup and I turned it down and I came back to Christchurch and brought my family out here on a couple of occasions and the business is good, the lifestyle is good. The people are more liberal in their thinking than the rest of the USA which is really important to me. The number of bootstrap and debt-free businesses that I’ve met here is amazing because normally they are just riddled with debt and the way they live, eat, drink, play, everything aligns really well with my own sensibilities and that of my life and certainly my family.

Yeah, we were just lucky because Australians have access to a visa that gets us out here pretty easily and yeah, we went for it and set up a company-- here we are and I got to stay in this-- and I have a lot of support from Dan because he could be-- he could shut it down and say, “Nah, lets not do that.” But he’s a man with a vision as well and he just like, “if Abhinav is in his happy place, we’re going to be jamming. So, send him to Boulder!” So, you know-- so that’s-- I’m lucky, I’m really lucky and again, I have choice and it’s amazing, what a gift.

"The first day in Boulder and I looked around me and I went, Oh, fuck and I was just like, this-- this is it!”
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

Trineo is a rapidly expanding and a very progressive company. What’s next for the little sled?

I’ve been working on it for the last week. It’s-- I have this thing where while it’s great to build stuff for other people, it feels really good to build it for yourself. We’re not short of ideas, we’re short of cash. So-- and we’re also a bit naive, not naive but we’re also a little conservative about getting cash because there’s plenty of it out there to get, to back a-- even a moderately good idea and you should see the way they stick-- they throw money at stupid ideas over here, it’s just madness. So, I-- that’s where I think we will end up, the way we get there I don’t know. Might be through, you know, Trineo changing fundamentally. For a few years we might still do what we do, or we might have a transition or we may have some kind of a jarring event that may trigger a change.

I think that a lot of us would enjoy having focus because one of the things about-- one of the things I have trouble with and I have to do a good job of it because it’s my responsibility is to stay across all the different projects we do. Whereas my team, I try to buy them focus, I let them sit on a thing for six, nine, twelve months but I have to be across six or seven things at the same time and it just breaks me after a while. It’s hard because I care, and I need to know. I look at everything from the nitty gritty, to all the high-level business conversations and it’s hard to stay across everything. I would love to have that deep, high, broad view of my own thing. So product development is possibly in our future.

Some bigger companies have made noises about acquiring us as their R and D (research and development) arm and we’d excel in that capacity and-- you know, let us loose at a problem and see the sort of stuff we can come up with. We have so many people in this crew that have these crazy interests outside of work as well-- ranging from astronomy through to hard core hardware work, through software, music, you know and we can bring together a lot of things-- we have a lot of expertise.

So there are two things there, one is acquisition through-- into a scenario where we are really-- actually I’m going to say three things. One, sustainable business, which is exactly what we are doing now and we just grow it the way we see fit. Two is possibly an acquisition which is-- has to be treated with great care, where we’re put into a position where we are doing some really interesting things and then eventually, anyway, I think this is going to happen at some point, is building our own product and yeah, we’ve got a few already but there just like-- I think hobby is not the right term because people depend on this stuff, so it’s not really a hobby, but-- it makes people’s businesses work, so it’s not a hobby it’s just that it’s not, like we don’t put a lot of our time into it. It doesn’t pay our bills so we don’t put all of our time into it. So, something scalable around product would be awesome, working on it.

I’ve literally just finished the first cut, MVP zero, zero, one of the latest product. I’ve just been obsessively working on it for the last week. Dan flew out here for a week and a half-ish and the first morning he was here we sat in a café for four hours and just hacked together. Drew up what we wanted to do and ball was in my court to build it. So I’ve finished it, I finished the first cut for internal use and-- how empowering is that, it’s amazing, I’m like the modern day carpenter. I bang things together and make stuff happen, it’s awesome, I love it!

"I’m like the modern day carpenter. I bang things together and make stuff happen, it’s awesome, I love it!"
Caffeine & Concrete Vol. 4

Find Abhinav on Twitter @wasabhi.

Photographs by Fiona Robertson, courtesy of Abhinav Keswani. Proofreading by Cinzia Forby.