Confessions from a Technical Head at a Media Startup

TheMediaAnt is about an year and a half old startup based out of Bangalore dealing in the media industry. It’s basically an online sales channel for media owners while at the same time a discovery platform, infact a marketplace for the advertisers who are mostly small and medium enterprises. You can read a lot about the philosophies and the problem that we’re trying to solve on NextBigWhat.

My journey with the company commenced about 10 months back when I decided to take a break from my 4+ years of freelance career (as a web and mobile developer) and work with a bunch of rockstars in various fields like product, marketing, business development and sales to build a startup.

When I joined, my role was pretty straightforward – build the tech infrastructure for the company. We were previously running a simple website on Blogger where all the media options used to get uploaded with pictures and other meta data. Blogger was a good option to quickly come up with an MVP without much expenses and validate the idea by getting customers online and actually selling media spaces. But as the number of options grew it became a big pain for the team to manage the entire site especially when they had to mass update all the options with a small piece of information. They had to do that by modifying each page. Customization also became a big issue.

So after I joined, in a month and a half we came up with a brand new customized solution that completely solved all of our pain points. A couple of goodness that I can recall are:

  • It facilitated the adding of media options.
  • Generated highly SEO optimized pages that the search engines indexed and ranked well quickly.
  • Stored all sorts of data in an organized way that is searcheable and can be worked with easily.
  • Had an excellent user interface and user experience.
  • Reduced response time for client servicing by huge margins, due to a couple of tools.

All these impacted in doubling up our leads and hence sales in the next couple of weeks.

This entire phase of developing a brand new system was full of new learnings and a complete new experience for me. I was dealing with the marketing, sales and vendor relations team and translating their problems/requirements into tech solutions. This ingrained a lot of product development and project management skills into me and gave me a good insight of:

  • How a business runs.
  • Various divisions of a business.
  • How to work with a non-technical team.
  • How to be a great team player with active comunication.
  • Understanding the problems and requirements of various departments and then either accepting them or reject with proper reasoning.

Not only my tech skills were growing, but moreover my business skills were rapidly developing as well. I started to understand business (especially the initial phase of a growing startup), give new ideas, take initiatives and solve problems by tech or non-tech means.

Slowly alongside my core work, I started to develop a couple of pillars for our company, like radio and hoardings. Meeting new clients for radio and hoarding advertising, preparing plans and proposals for them, dealing with the vendors, negotiating on both sides were the major tasks involved.

I think the best part about working for a startup is that you get to perform various roles outside your core strength. This means you get to learn a lot of new things that keeps you excited. But at the same time some tasks might require us to move outside our comfort zone, like troubleshooting someone’s computer, fixing the internet, helping other departments with their tasks making sure that we meet deadline for out projects, etc. All these are done regardless our liking towards the task, just because of the passion for the bigger picture, which is the vision. We’re excited about solving a particular problem (or a set of them) with the thought that its going to help umpteen people. This is why most of us do what it takes.

By Rishabh

Rishabh is the thinker, creator, technical solver, platform maker and the wizard doer of Media Ant