Why I became Employee #1 @ EncycloKidia

Zahir Koradia

Z… says!

Moving to a new country is always difficult. I took this leap of faith after my wife moved from India to study at London School of Economics in October 2014. We decided to explore settling down in London and this meant I needed to find work here.

But wait, before I go any further, a quick introduction: My name is Zahir Koradia, and I am the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at EncycloKidia. Prior to this I was CTO at Gram Vaani, an exciting social enterprise in New Delhi. I am passionate about writing and managing beautiful code and building simple technology solutions to complex problems. When I’m not coding and strategising, you will find me watching movies, teaching anyone willing to take me on as an instructor, playing cricket or badminton, or experimenting with different kinds of food. This is my story of how I came to join EncycloKidia.

Once I’d decided to move to London, the job hunt began. A job that is exciting, resonates with one’s beliefs, and has great people to learn from does not come easy – and this was true for me too. I scanned job sites, contacted friends and family in London, visited developer discussion forums. It was an overwhelming experience with excitement, anxiety, fear, sadness, and a million other feelings all mixed together. I was clearly out of my comfort zone but managed to keep my wits about me.

I found the CTO opening for EncycloKidia on a job site and found the idea of meeting parents’ needs interesting. Soon Shefali and I had a Skype call where, ironically, I ended up interviewing her for over an hour instead of the other way round. The next time was an in-person meeting that lasted about 4 hours at the end of which I had an offer. My brains were so full of Shefali’s ideas and aspirations for the company, that when I went back home I couldn’t remember the details of the offer!

Even though the idea of joining EncycloKidia was exciting for me, it was a risky proposition. According to wamda.com 90% of early stage startups fail, so there was a 90% chance I’d eventually be out of a job. Moving to a new country while undertaking such risk felt stupid. However, there were certain things that pulled me towards EncycloKidia.

Firstly, I love kids – they bring out the child in me. As part of a large family I have always been surrounded by kids. It was this love for kids that got me to initiate conversation with Shefali. Secondly, during my conversations with Shefali, I found her to be honest, hard working, and fair. In my book of ethical behaviour these qualities rank very highly. It is hard to find people who can be fair, mostly because it is very hard to be able to think from another person’s perspective. In addition, with EncycloKidia, Shefali was trying to solve a problem she had herself faced – finding quality information about children’s services with reviews from parents. This shows her faith in herself and her motivation behind building EncycloKidia, both important factors for me. Thirdly, I found that she respected my opinions, even when she did not agree with all of them. Finally, I felt that we made a good team – good chemistry helps startup teams work fast in good times, and respect and honesty allows them to tide over the bad times.

There was also this one other thing – as it’s first senior executive, I would have the opportunity to shape EncycloKidia’s processes and culture. Sitting on virgin ground, I would get to build the complete technology stack from scratch. This is every techie’s dream. At Gram Vaani, I had the opportunity to grow the tech team. I loved the experience. However, we didn’t focus much on developing the ethics that would guide us. At EncycloKidia I will have the opportunity to do just this, not only for the technology team, but for the whole organization.

So after careful consideration, and a bit of back and forth on the details, I was on board as the CTO of EncycloKidia. Yay!!

You will be hearing more from me soon in an exciting new blog series called Inside EK, where I will be “leaking” out all the inside stories. Stay tuned…

Visit the main EncycloKidia Website to find local services for your kids.

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