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Why Atomicwork – the founding team answers

Our founding members’ perspectives – on why they decided to join a fledgling startup, and why Atomicwork in particular.

After speaking to the founders about their story, we wanted to know some of our founding members’ perspectives – on why they decided to join a fledgling startup, and why Atomicwork in particular.  

The problem

Ramesh Ganapathy, Product:

People like talking about employee experience and how it is a priority for their company, but if you take a closer look, employee needs always take a seat behind business needs.

Most so-called employee tools are about businesses - they help founders run the company, executives get monthly reports, and teams save costs. As an employee, I have experienced the pain of using these products firsthand, knowing very well that they are not designed for me.

Adding to this, as companies grow and expand their teams, more and more tools get added to the mix. And employees are expected to jump through hoops, navigating multiple disjointed tools that keep getting implemented to benefit an individual department or team.

I was happy to learn that Atomicwork's mission is to build a platform to put employees first and bring disparate products together. Our solution will benefit every employee in the organization rather than serve the needs of a smaller group of people.

We could all benefit from a product that can bring disparate employee engagement tools (and people) together.

About a decade ago, customer experience products underwent a revolution and saw tremendous growth in the market. Today, people don't compromise on user experience when they buy a support, sales, or marketing product. The time is right for employee solutions to go through a similar journey.

Anish P R, Engineering:

I have some experience working in customer service, and customer service products have evolved a lot over time. So, comparing what is there for customers to what we have for employees is drastically different.

In my previous company, I personally faced several problems related to employee experience. I had to use one application for submitting bills, another application to look up my work, and another for finance at a third-party application level.  

I had four to five apps I needed to go and get information from, all in different domains, even for a simple request. The app would be hidden somewhere in the organization and I won’t be able to find it easily.

I would forget the name of the app we use for that specific request and have to ask around for it. Then when I finally found the right app and tried to sign in, it would do multi-factor authentication all over again and make the whole experience cumbersome.

Sometimes I was just lazy to go through all those apps and submit data, so I’d just make do without them.  

There is a big opportunity for software that solves multiple problems and is actually built into an organization’s employee flow. This ensures there’s nothing unknown when you join an organization.

This avoids some kind of temporary option or process that you don’t have full information on, when you don’t know who to contact for what and there are no proper checklists of software – employees know that some tools are around, but have no idea of how to navigate through them. Across all these employee experience obstacles, is an opportunity.

Prajeetha Prasad, People:

Vijay and I caught up a couple of times after our previous company’s acquisition, when we recollected and spoke about how some aspects of our employee experience could have been better.

We wanted to build a product that could enable us to deliver a better experience to our own people and also share it with the rest of the world.

When I spoke to Kiran and Parsu, I found that they also shared a similar thought process about building a product that’s going to be beneficial for the people, at the end of the day. That made me more confident about joining them and becoming a part of Atomicwork’s founding team.  

Till now, I’ve only worked with companies that built core IT products. I always felt that I’d be able to relate to the problem and contribute better if I had worked with an HR product company.

Atomicwork presented the best opportunity on that front, where I’ll be able to contribute from the early stage of the company, share my own past experiences with other products, and help the team build a better one.

The place

Akash Bhunchal, Engineering:

I’ve always preferred working with startups. I felt lost in a big company – whatever I did, my contributions made very little impact and I would feel like a small fish in a big pond. And that doesn’t work for me, personally.

I do have to manage a team, responsibilities like that invariably come with seniority. Having said that, I don’t want to just manage. I want to build. I love to build.  

And only startups can give people like me, who come with 15+ years of experience, the opportunity to keep building. In a bigger company, on the other hand, people management and project management would take up a larger part of my portfolio.

Even in mid-level companies, the foundation would already be in place and I would be expected to rather bring sanity to the madness – they've already built a lot of things and they want someone to simply step in, put everything in place and get everything to work. Again, very little scope to build something from scratch.  

I wanted to join a company where I can be an engineer first and can build – that was my guiding principle.

Atomicwork gave me the opportunity to do just that, alongside an incredible and seasoned team. Right now, I’m feeding off the confidence of the founders – that we can make a dent in the employee experience space and build something meaningful.

Shankar Ganesh, Product:

In my first job, I had complete autonomy to pick and choose projects that I believed in and wanted to work on. Of course, I did take up work that I knew was important for the business and customers, so I didn’t have to go around convincing the team.

That level of freedom has always been important to me – it helps me explore problems I’m excited about and learn new things. This kind of freedom is very hard to expect in big companies. I felt that only a startup where I work with people who know and understand me can give me that leeway to explore and learn.

I believe freedom precedes learning – they go hand-in-hand.

I also wanted to work in a place where I know that all my skills are being utilised. Where I witness the impact of my work week after week on the product – so I clearly know what value I’m adding and how.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the most basic thing about work for me is finding projects that fire up my energy – things that I naturally feel excited about. Because everything else cascades from there.

And I found Atomicwork checked all those boxes for me.  

Anish P R, Engineering:

I’ve always wanted to work at a startup where I could build things from the ground up, learn a lot of things in a short time, and experience the fulfilment of doing so.  

Adding to that, I’ve already worked with Akash and Vijay, and have a good rapport with them. I know how they work, what they need, and how to communicate with them to get stuff done. They played a part in my decision too.

I can always go back to an organization like Adobe, my previous employer, but I will never get the first-hand opportunity to build something like this, with the right people, in the right market.

At this point in my career, I could probably get into exploring things, something which I probably can’t do later. So, I knew maybe this was the one time that I would be able to do new things. I didn’t want to be tied down and this was an opportunity to explore my skills even further.

Coming from multiple organizations, I now have an idea of the way to build in terms of processes and quality control. So basically, the process is more streamlined in my mind.  

When you're building something from scratch, you need to set up standards from the beginning so that it can be easy to build from then on. This is something that I want to get right from day one.

Ramesh Ganapathy, Product:

When I left Freshworks after my 10th work anniversary, I had no idea I would join Atomicwork.

I was interviewing with a bunch of other companies, and they all came with fantastic perks that I had dreamt about enjoying as a kid. One of these companies even wanted me to move to Europe and work from any major city at any point in time. The idea of experiencing different cultures and, admittedly, watching my favorite football teams play every weekend was very tempting. But despite speaking to many people, I realized all of these opportunities made me feel like I would take up a regular job.

I decided to wait until I found a place where I could spend the next decade of my life. And guess what happened next?

Prajeetha Prasad, People:

I had taken a career break and hadn’t decided if I wanted to start working then. Many ifs and buts existed when this opportunity came up, but the founders were very understanding and flexible with my working arrangements. This was another reason why my decision to join was so easy.  

This level of consideration is in fact a core part of this company’s culture. Many a time, companies tend to put personal life on the back burner – think late evening calls, back-to-back meetings, and so on. At Atomicwork, this isn’t the case.  

As an organization, we believe that every employee should be able to manage their time the way they want and give primary importance to their personal life, while doing work that they are genuinely passionate about.

We want them to feel excited about Monday mornings.

A lot of times we talk about such goals, but it is not very easy to keep making them happen, especially as the company grows and the pace increases. When I shared this concern with Vijay, he shared a couple of ideas he had in mind to consciously solve this.  

For example, if we were to expand our team abroad, we would pick regions that wouldn’t create too much of a conflict for people, in terms of the time difference – because we don’t want either the new employees or the existing ones to stretch late evenings.  

And when people join, we want to make it clear to them from day one, that all they have to focus on is their own work and we would give them the best possible work environment to make that easier.

The people

Akash Bhunchal, Engineering:

I’ve been working with Vijay for about 10 to 12 years now, and that comfort level makes a big difference to me. For those who know Vijay, they know that he can sell a dream. He’s positive about everything, at all times.  

In the last decade, Vijay and I have been through some terrible times together, and when things went sideways, he always stayed calm and never lost his cool.

He has this energy that can lift your spirits and make you feel excited about your work. Whenever I speak to him, I feel cheerful and inspired. And it’s a rare quality – I haven’t felt that energy from most other founders I have spoken to. So, it was a no-brainer for me to decide to work with Vijay again.

Ramesh Ganapathy, Product:

I enjoyed working with Parsu on several launches over the years at Freshworks. The most memorable among these were tricky weekend deployments of long-awaited product features or the late-nighters we pulled before a marketing announcement. I knew working with him on a new product from scratch would be something I would enjoy very much.

While I hadn't worked closely with Kiran, in the brief interactions I had had with him, he was extremely straightforward and honest. He also didn't shy away from technical problems and always tried to do the right thing for our customers.

Working with a no-nonsense technical founder like him would keep the team aligned and focused.

When I spoke to them about working together, it was very early, and even the company's name still needed to be finalized. I was sold on the business idea and could see that the engineering and product teams were in great hands, but who would work with investors, sell to customers, and run the show? That's when I got introduced to Vijay.

My first-ever call with Vijay lasted for two hours. Within the first five minutes of our conversation, he told me, "Ramesh, I think I would have failed as a founder if you left us in three or five years. I want to work with you and build this company together for the next ten years or even longer." It felt like he was reading my mind because that's what I was holding out for myself.

He was upfront that I shouldn't join Atomicwork if I wanted crazy pay or a fancy title. Instead, he gave me a clear picture of what he had in mind for me – what I could do right now, what I could grow into in two to three years, and where I could end up eventually. He even presented three career paths I could consider over the next decade based on how things for me and the company.

Out of these options, the opportunity to be a generalist (or a "playmaker") between product, marketing, and operations felt like a great starting point for me. As an aspiring entrepreneur, this was an excellent opportunity to build a company and get trained by seasoned founders.

I was also thoroughly impressed by how thoughtful Vijay was during our discussions and how much he cared about my career. In addition to being clear about the company's vision, he tried to assess my strengths and weaknesses and chart different trajectories. It showed what kind of a relationship I would have with him and sealed the deal for me.

Coming into Atomicwork, I knew I would be in good hands with the founders.

Many things might change in startup life - my role might change, the product will evolve, the market can crash, and the office commute in Chennai might get as tedious as in Bangalore (just kidding). But no matter what, I can trust Vijay, Kiran, and Parsu wholeheartedly. I can play my best game without worrying about challenges when that's out of the way.

In the next three months after I joined, our team had already grown to 20 people. I can already see that we are a grounded team with high ambitions, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

Prajeetha Prasad, People:

When I learned that Vijay was starting up again, I had no second thoughts about coming on board. Because I have already worked with him and I knew how important employees are to him – I was certain that it would be a great place to work and we would also build a product keeping people in mind.  

In all the conversations they have with the team, the founders speak from an angle that every employee is invested to be with this organization for a minimum of 10 years.

You’re coming in because you’re going to stay with the company for a long term and build it together.

As the founding team, we get to define and build this culture together, and as the HR person, it is also my job to make sure that this culture stays the same throughout the company’s journey.  

I met most of the founding team members during an in-person meetup, and felt a sense of familiarity and comfort with all of them. Everyone was inviting and inclusive – even though I was from the HR side, the product team involved me in the conversation, listening to my inputs, and giving importance to my perspective.  

Shankar Ganesh, Product:

One of the biggest reasons I joined Atomicwork was for Parsu.  

I’ve only had four or five conversations with Parsu at Freshworks, but that was enough for me to understand his deep product sense. He was always able to think one step ahead and articulate those thoughts clearly.

I thought if I joined Atomicwork, I would enjoy working with him as a product person.  

Apart from Parsu, I’ve also enjoyed working with Ramesh in the past, who also played a role in my decision to come on board.  

I wanted to work with people whom I respect and have built a good rapport with. People who know me well, and give me the freedom to work on projects that align with my strengths and interests. People who push me to up my own game.

The next goal for me is to grow in my career and build a team of my own, and I think I have the opportunity to do it here.  

I would’ve said yes irrespective of what product Kiran, Parsu, and Vijay decided to work on. I would’ve said yes just for working with these people.

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