Pepelwerk Bonus Podcast – Tech Startup Life with Kim Kelley and Malahar Pinnelli
The following is the transcript from a bonus episode The pepelwerk Podcast.
Kim Kelley (CEO of pepelwerk):
Welcome everyone to this sidebar podcast that I’ve decided to put together and we’ve done a couple of series already with getting to know our team that we’ve put on YouTube so watch those and get familiar with our team and how our team has got to really live exactly the way that we’re thinking that everyone else wants to live their work life.
Today I have a very special guest, we are talking to Malahar and he is the crazy co-founder with me of [tech startup] Pepelwerk and he has been brave enough to take on the role of chief technology officer, chief infrastructure officer, chief every thing else office because as a start up you have to wear multiple hats and that’s just the way the game is played but today I wanted everyone to get to know him, what is going on in his head, and maybe what motivated him separately of all of the things that I’ve talked about why we started Pepelwerk to begin with.
So, hello Malahar introduce yourself and let everyone know where you’re at today.
Malahar Pinnelli (CTO of pepelwerk):
Hello everyone. Thanks Kim for a crazy introduction. Yes, it’s been crazy. I am Malahar Pinnelli and the co founder for Pepelwerk primarily CTO, CIO, come with a lot of technology leadership experience of almost 18 years and when I and Kim spoke about Pepelwerk it was absolutely what was on my mind and that’s how we got started on Pepelwerk.
KK: Where are you located?
I am based out of Bangalore, India. I have been in India, Bangalore for six years before that I was working out of US based out of Minneapolis which was the coolest place I have ever been.
KK: So audience, Malahar and I have completely different perspectives on where we would like to live. I remember Malahar, you said that you actually liked to live in the cold for a little bit is that right?
Yep, I enjoy the cold. Initially when I moved to US I came from [a city in India] which was 100 plus on the day I left. I landed in US, Minneapolis when it was minus 45. So that can tell the story, from that point I ended up even playing broom ball in the middle of the winter at minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit in open air. I can live with cold, I can live with heat I guess, but I enjoy the cold.
KK: I actually think that speaks to your overall flexibility because as both you and I have seen extreme successes, struggles and, failures as we’ve started this company that we believe is going to not really change but bring about the future of work.
So talk to our audience about why you wanted to start pepelwerk. I know that we were on the same page when I called you that day I said this is what I’m thinking, you said that’s what I’m thinking. Why in particular did you want to start Pepelwerk?
Great question, it’s difficult to answer in short time cause there are a lot of reasons. It goes back to as we evolved through the generations, if I looked at my parents, that they did not mind to do the same job or work for the same company or department for a long time. It was more of I work to make money and live life with the family but today’s generation looks for pride in work and fulfillment at work in what they do. They want to do what they love to do then what they get to do.
That’s the way I look at today’s generation, even me when I started working it was oh everybody were going into computers and technology so let me go there but as I worked through my year I want to look at what I love to do and I wanna do what I love to do. That was one of the primary reasons. The second was the world is getting small, people can work from anywhere and produce the value. I’ve been in technology and business leadership where I built multiple teams, global teams delivering technology solutions across the world.
What I found while I was building these teams is it’s always challenging to find the right people. One, who will fit in the technology but also who will fit your culture. There is no platform who can bring the best matching people to the job in today’s market so there was a problem to solve that’s why I looked at being part of Pepelwerk and getting started on Pepelwerk.
There’s basically to help the talent get the best matching job for them and us. Let’s guide them to be able to fulfill their aspirations for the future.
KK: So I think we’re going to have to use some of what you said for our swag just because it’s clever. In particular what is always in the news today especially in the US and I’m not sure what kind of headlines in India but I know in Europe and now even in South America where a generation, you said it really astutely when you said this generation wants to figure out what they like to do and not just work with what they get to do and those are two completely different mindsets like you said than previous generations.
And I know that both of us together will be able to bring those types of options to our audience. I’m very excited about that. Now outside of the purpose of Pepelwerk and why you in particular felt like this was a great solution to bring to market what are some of the things that you’ve learned as the CTO of a start up company.
What I learned, the most important, it’s not easy to live a start up life. Even though it’s a lot of fun but it’s not easy. There are a lot of challenges which comes with opportunities to learn a lot. It is not easy but you get to learn a lot and have fun.
There are three most important things that I have learned in this Journey so far. One, the goal is big but keep your head down, start chipping away one by one, because if you are just going to focus on the big goal you are going to get stuck and start worrying about how am I going to get there. Plan for each and every item and start chipping away one thing at a time. That’s first thing which is really important which I learned part of this journey.
Two, technology changes every day so be open to learn and be innovative. Don’t go with somebody, what they said or what you read. Try to figure out an innovative solution for the problems, for the problem you are trying to solve. Three, messaging and marketing is the key for the success of a start up life. So those are the three most important things I have learned so far during this journey and I’m sure we will be learning a lot more.
KK: Oh yeah, I think were going to be learning tons more. One of the things I just want to add because this is something that has been interesting for my perspective is that I don’t stay married to my assumptions. I think that’s exactly what you’re saying from a technology perspective is you can read things superficially and you can gain information but you still need to think on your own, you still need to find a creative way of bringing about the solution and it’s not always true that your assumptions are going to be right and you have to expect to be really agile.
So even from a technology perspective in the way that we grow the business I think the word agility, even though it’s such a fad word right now, it’s very true when it comes to a start up, would you agree?
Absolutely, that’s the only way. You’ve got to adapt, be agile. You might have thought of one thing but when you do that it may not be exactly what you have thought and the users might react differently so you might have to go take a completely opposite direction all together so you’ve got to be agile and be able to adapt quick.
KK: So now I’m definitely curious, we’ve been actually working on this for almost a full year now and it’s crazy to say that out loud. We went live about two months ago and like we’ve continually said throughout this conversation every day is a lesson learned. This is not a life for the people who think that it’s going to be easy, it’s just simply not, especially when you’re a tech company and you’re dealing with noise and saturation from every angle.
But in particular for those junior CTO’s, CIO’s, that are just waiting to come in the ranks and actually try to lead the technology side of a business what words of wisdom would you share?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Doesn’t it sounds fancy to say I have my own start up? To say I’m a CTO of start up, I’m a CEO of start up, right? It’s not easy, it sounds fancy but it’s really difficult to live and go through that journey and be successful, which is the sweet thing at the end of the day.
If I have to say somebody on what they should be looking at being a CTO number one would be find your core group of techies and get that right. These people should be having the attitude of I can do anything, I can solve anything because you can not find the people who know everything so this core group need to be full of enthusiasm so that they can learn, read, solve the problems. That’s how you build the [inaudible 00:12:13], so that’s one, get the core group of techies right.
Two, when you see or hear and MEP don’t just build a prototype. MEP should be a stand along feature function set on which you can build upon and what you can scale in terms of volumes and of the functionality. So don’t build just proof of concept build a full functional MEP. That’s how you plan.
Three, which is most important is, believe in your dream. Believe in your partners, believe in your team. Keep faith, because you’re going to face a lot of challenges, and be hopeful that things will work out. End of the day resilience is the key to success. So those are the tree things I would say are the most important for aspiring CTO’s to remember.
KK: Well resilience definitely is the key to success and I think it does weed out those that aren’t willing to go the distant because the misconception of a start up, and I love the way that you actually started your tips, is that there’s this significant romanticism around start ups, especially technology start ups.
I watched a really good YouTube video from CBR, which is the Chicago business resource group, they were basically saying the economics of entrepreneurship just can’t withstand the space, meaning that there’s a breaking point at which everyone simply can’t be an entrepreneur because economically we can’t withstand that. There’s a balance in that and what weeds up out from a start up perspective, especially when you’re dealing with technology is your resilience and fortitude. Nothing from a tiny perspective, from the way technology works, the way that your team works, there’s significant bumps in the road.
From my perspective I’ve seen our challenges and I know for any aspiring CTO take the words of wisdom from Malahar because he’s lived it, he’s breathed it, he’s not new to this space, he’s certainly not new to technology and if you want to reach out to Malahar he’s on LinkedIn and now you can message him and follow him directly and maybe get some additional advice if you are an aspiring techy or even want to take some advice about how he built up his core techy group.
Because for me in our partnership what he’s been able to do is really great and I love the fact that he brought out the human side to really creating Pepelwerk and it is to remind yourself of what you’re trying to accomplish.
I want to ask the last question of our podcast today and it really is probably, in my opinion, the most significant. What is it that you want Pepelwerk to help change?
The entire world.
KK: I love it, I agree.
But let’s start with my favorite number, three most important, because we are going to be here for long time and we will continue lot. The first thing is create a win win situation for both talent and empire because talent has aspirations, wants, employer have needs. How do we create a win win situation for both? That’s the first problem to solve, and that’s what we are solving at Pepelwerk.
Second, help talent to have balanced work life because you don’t want to create an employment where you’re worried about your job on day to day basis and sitting in office just to be noticed by your bosses. It should be very driven through the value that assessment of proponent should be by the value that [inaudible 00:16:46] creates than the time they spend in the corporate office space. So the second problem we are trying to solve is help talent to have a balance work life.
The third which is again, very relevant in today’s world is help talent to be competitive and be employable in this fast paced world because things are changing on hourly basis. Look at the technology in the past generation it change once in a lifetime, once in centuries. Now technology’s changing every other second so what we want to solve and help change is basically help talent to be competitive and be employable as they work through the age of the work life.
So those are the three things I would say are the most important things what I want Pepelwerk to change and many more of course later.
KK: Well of course, we will eventually get to changing the world but one of the things I love about our partnership is that we constantly make sure were on the same page and that we’re working towards the same goals. I appreciate you taking the time today to let us know you, not you personally yet, we’ll get to know Malahar personally on another podcast, but more importantly his side of the Pepelwerk story.
Thank you every one for listening to today’s podcast. As always leave your comments and follow us on social media we want to hear about what other things you want to hear about so we’re talking about things that make sense for you.
Remember we give you the tools it’s up to you how you use them.