Abhinav Desor is one of the first members of our tech team and has worked on the Grofers product from scratch. In this post, he recounts his journey with us.
It was towards the end of October 2014 that I came to know about Grofers. A friend of mine had joined and was pretty excited. Shortly after, another friend joined Grofers and they started persuading me to leave my job (I was only 3 months into my job then) and join Grofers. Initially, I wasn’t serious about the prospect, but in a few days, I started pondering about the idea of being in a nascent startup with two of my best friends. That was always the dream.
One evening, I dropped a hint that I would love to be a part of Grofers, and my friends immediately forwarded my resume to Ankur, the tech lead. Ankur contacted me the next day saying hello and asked me to come over for an interview. A lot of thoughts came to my mind at that time. Was I doing the right thing by leaving a well-reputed company and joining a company that didn’t even have its MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in place? Wasn’t it too early a stage in my career to switch jobs? What if the company shuts down suddenly and I am left jobless? It took me a while, but eventually, I made up my mind and firmly believed that given a chance, together with my friends, I would be able to make a product that would excel. About five minutes after the interview, Ankur called me up and told me that I have been selected and that I have to join within a week. I somehow convinced my family about my decision and in less than a week, I was on a flight to Gurgaon.
I reached Gurgaon at 00:03, November 03, 2014 – my birthday. I was delighted to see my friends after such a long time (although they didn’t even get me a cake!). We talked until late at night and I was pretty excited about the next day. At around 10:00 AM, we reached office, which by the way was surrounded by factories and pigs (being chased by dogs). Coming from a company located in a well-maintained tech park with ample facilities, I was in for a huge shock! Yet again, it was just the beginning. The office was a messy room with one table for the tech team, one for the operations team, and a very small room with a wooden wall for the CRM team.
I went to Ankur’s desk, we shook hands and he asked me to take a seat, after which he went back to coding. Soon enough, my laptop arrived and Ankur gave me a brief description of the high level architecture. He told me that I was to migrate the backend system from MongoDB to PostgreSQL. Now, if you aren’t a techie, you might not understand what it means so let’s just say that it’s like understanding an abstract painting and drawing a hyper-realistic equivalent of it. Overall, it wasn’t the kind of welcome I was used to considering that there was a proper on-boarding event in my previous company. Later in the day, there was a cake brought in for my birthday and there was a small celebration with people who didn’t even know who I was, and vice versa but, well, it was fun.
Fast-forwarding to the end of my first month, the time gone by was very eventful. We had almost finished building our consumer system and app, and had fine-tuned our B2B system to an extent where it could sustain. We were working around the clock to get ahead of our competition. Enthusiastic about our product and team, we gave our all to it. There were always people coming to meet Albi and Saurabh, and you could see the whole business growing right in front of you. I had played a variety of roles already – interviewing people with thrice the experience that I had, suddenly being switched to working on Android late into the night when we needed to show a basic version of our app to our investors, talking to clients, integrating a payment gateway and mentoring interns. A single month at Grofers was worth a year of experience in every aspect. We all had the confidence to make it huge and crazy.
I have literally seen Grofers grow in front of me. I was there when the first customer signed up and we got our first order. When we gave away free macarons on our first birthday and saw a huge growth in the number of orders, just about 10 days after releasing Version 1 of our app. When we delivered a laptop charger to a person who had forgotten it at home. When we delivered the iPhone 6s on the midnight of its launch. When we were attacked by a hacker and we built a resilient authentication system overnight. When we bagged our Series A funding. When we were too big a team to fit in that one room and had to move to another office. When we got our first newspaper advertisement published and saw such a huge boost in the number of orders that most of the tech team had to go to the call-center room to attend calls, while the rest of us were fire-fighting to keep the system up and running. When we got a delivery done in Chandigarh though we were operational just in Delhi and Mumbai back then, just because a customer was eager to experience Grofers. When we made our first acquisition. When we were too big a team to fit in the office (again) and had to move to a six-storey office. When we were suddenly in the limelight and everybody was talking about Grofers. When we started growing exponentially (experiencing around 50% growth every week!). When we had successfully delivered a million orders. When we started getting 20,000 orders on an average per day. When we launched operations in 10 cities in less than a week. When we were too big a team to fit in the office (yet again) and had to move to another office. When we expanded to Tier 2 cities. Looking back, at this time last year, we were building a system with an assumption that there wouldn’t be more than 11 active orders at a time! This seems so funny now! It has indeed been a crazy, wild, roller-coaster ride.
Grofers has been a life-changing experience for me. Literally creating a product that is known across the nation today, from scratch, with my college roommates, is something not many get to experience. From a tech team of just 4, we have reached a number above 70 and have another tech-office in Bangalore. Working at Grofers has been, since day one, a dream. Throughout the journey, I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the finest programmers and entrepreneurs, and have made many friends for life. But it didn’t come easy. We worked relentlessly 16-18 hours a day, 7 days a week to get to where we are today. And we are not going to stop. Ever.
If you want to join our awesome team and be a part of changing the way people shop, tell us here.