Leadership Insights Chapter 5: Atul Ranjan, CTO, GeekyAnts

A short discussion with Atul Ranjan about his journey from co-founder to CTO
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Being one of the founders of GeekyAnts, Atul is the visionary CTO driving the technological decisions behind the organisation. He is an expert problem solver with significant experience in full stack modern, scalable and efficient web development.

Beyond being the tech geek that he naturally is, Atul is an absolute fitness freak and an adventurous foodie. In this tete-a-tete with him, we shall delve into his journey as one of the founders and leaders of GeekyAnts.

The following Q&A has been edited to deliver ease of understanding and clarity.

1. What has the journey of GeekyAnts been from your perspective?

As one of the co-founders at GeekyAnts, I can say that the journey so far has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. Initially, it was the six of us who set out on this venture to create an organisation that is a trailblazer in the app development domain. I would say that our journey has been about unlearning and learning some of the concepts we knew while dabbling with the newest technologies in the market. It was our constant struggle over the years that has brought us to where we are today.

2. What were the motivations behind deciding the technologies that GeekyAnts is now known for? How difficult was it to build such a portfolio?

We love experimenting with new tech stacks and that has caused us to adopt some of the newest trends in the app development domain. We sincerely believe that to progress, it is important to keep up with the newest trends and technologies along with a strong “Give back to the community” attitude, and that's what we have been doing since the inception of GeekyAnts. As early adopters of such technologies, we faced quite a few challenges in the beginning, as the resources available at the time were meagre, but it was equally exciting as it was scary since it opened up a plethora of possibilities and opportunities. We also believe in providing the best user experience for all our partners, which has helped us build some strong allies along the way.

3. GeekyAnts is famous for being a place of mentorship for people with all levels of experience in tech. How difficult is it to build teams with such varied levels of knowledge and how do you tackle it?

I strongly believe that strong mentorship defines a person's career path, and opens up multiple avenues. When I initially started out, I was mentored by my co-founders, Sanket and Pratik, who offered a truly delightful and productive experience which has shaped my ideals and this is something I want to extend to others and help them through their journey. Some of the learnings that I had with my partners have taught me important values such as team-building and empathy, and it is something that I hope to exemplify as a mentor myself. As for the latter part of the question, I have always found that a good team is a mix of both freshers and those with experience. As a leader, I have found that some of the most innovative ideas are those that come from minds that are fresh to the industry.

4. How do you use technology to drive GeekyAnts’ business goals?

Being an app development organisation, technology is the essence and the driving force behind GeekyAnts. We are a community of avid tech freaks who love experimenting. We have been one of the first organisations to work with technologies like React and Flutter. When the domain of mobile app development opened up, there were only two existing techstacks which provided the framework for this. This is when we started experimenting with React Native and came upon the realization that the paradigm was quite similar to what React offers, so we explored and aligned ourselves becoming experts in the field. One of proudest achievements till today was the creation of Nativebase, which received 15000 stars on GitHub and brought us significant recognition from the dev community. That's when GeekyAnts transitioned from merely an organisation to being a brand by itself and so far we have built at least 20 applications using the technology. We were also the creators of BuilderX, a browser based design tool, which helped us carve a niche for ourselves in the market.

5. In your experience as a CTO, what was the most important lesson in Management that has helped you be a better leader?

As a leader, my learnings are incessant. One of the most important lessons that my journey as a leader has taught me is to be more empathetic and open to opinions. This helps not just with maintaining a strong rapport with the team but also helps us open doors through unique solutions which can only be achieved through productive discussions and keeping an open mind. It is also very important to realise leadership isn't about exerting force but joining hands with the team and driving the company with a strong and unified front.

6. What is the direction that you envision taking GeekyAnts into in the coming years?

As a community, GeekyAnts believes in attaining the unattainable and always moving forward despite our challenges. My vision for GeekyAnts in the coming years is limitless as I believe that stopping at a particular goal will just bring in unnecessary restrictions which will affect our ways. We have always kept our eyes open for any opportunities that may come our way and our determination to collaborate, experiment and learn has brought us multiple accolades from the dev community. I’m sure that it is this mindset that will pave the way for our success going forward. We are currently designing two unique solutions which you will see in the upcoming days. TheTopGeek is an innovative digital hiring solution that will automate the HR processes within an organisation and Beavr, an end-to-end visual coding tool.