At Futuristic Labs, #WeAreTheProduct. Our people are passionate about using their expertise to change the world. Each interaction, every decision, and feedback from our teammates contribute to our ongoing development. We asked our teammates to share their experiences, journey, and what we can improve next at the company. Today, meet Naseef A K, one of our industrious Embedded Design Engineers working on Semi!
1 year already! How does it feel?
It feels surreal. It's a huge milestone in my life. As an Embedded Engineer, the organization has given me major responsibilities. Semi is particularly special. It’s the first hardware device we are bringing to the market. It's fulfilling to see how my contributions impact the success of the product and the company as a whole.
What was your journey to becoming an Embedded Engineer?
Before joining Futuristic Labs, I began my career as an electronics engineer as one of the first employees at an early-stage startup. There, I developed a robot with autonomous capabilities. As we were a very small team, I took on more responsibilities. I got to work on people management, and project management along with developing my technical expertise. We created an LMS(Learning Management System) that gave the opportunity for students to create autonomous robots. I worked as a trainer for interns and experienced the project management side.
But without proper experience in project management, one of the main issues I faced was not looking at the bigger picture. It would create frustration in my team, and the work would be unfinished. So I was looking for mentorship on team management as well as improving my technical skills.
During Covid, I had saved some money with which I pursued a 6-month course in Embedded Systems. After receiving a joining letter from Futuristic Labs, I spoke to HR and learned that they were also looking for someone well-versed in RTOS. This opened up an opportunity for me to upskill myself in technical aspects, and project management, and provide value to the company at the right time. During my first month of work, I took up small tasks. I got the theoretical knowledge online, and practical knowledge at the office. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
What's your current focus?
Currently, I'm working on embedded designing of Semi. It involves different subsystems, including software, mechanical, and design. I oversee its PDLC (Product Development Life Cycle). We have completed EVT (Engineering Validation Testing) recently, and DVT (Design Validation Testing) is ongoing. We are currently approaching the final stages before the product release. We also took up DFMEA (Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) technique. It helps us identify any potential issue. With successful User Testing, I am confident and proud to know that Semi's tech is easing users' lives.
I've also gained insights into the pricing strategies, marketing, and positioning for both hardware and software products. The supportive environment here accelerates learning and growth. As we near the product release, our efficiency has increased.
What are you most proud of?
During my college days, my friends and I were working on a project. When college was over, our team parted ways. I didn’t want to lose the project, so I continued with it. I received idea-to-prototype funding from Kerala Startup Mission and created the product in a single execution. As a student, I didn’t have any experience in product development. I didn’t know anything about its various stages and their importance. The project was bound to fail. Family responsibility also increased.
But I’m wearing my failures as a badge. What I lacked at that time, I’m getting to improve on those areas at Futuristic Labs. It is an Innovation Studio with a complete Product Development cycle. You are not done just with your department - you get to be part of the product from start to end. After months of hard work, one of my proudest moments so far has been the successful User Testing. Now, I’m very confident to start any project from scratch.
Another proud moment is that within three months of joining, the management entrusted me with mid-senior-level project responsibilities. My ideas were well received. At the time of joining, I felt less experienced in the role. With the experience I came at Futuristic Labs, it was very negligible. But today, I get to make frameworks with the most experienced guys in the organization. Every day, I’m getting more expertise in every aspect of the product.
The Semi Software Team has the most contribution on GitHub from January to March. We can now foresee any potential issues. Within time, we delivered the EVT. In Semi, I’m the 2nd most contributed developer. Just in the past year, we have added 20 features into Semi. Completing a whole cycle of product development is itself a huge achievement for me.
What's your typical workday?
My work at Futuristic Labs is quite dynamic. It involves being part of two teams: the Semi Team and the Software Team. Right now, I’m balancing two roles as a Scrum Master and an Embedded Developer.
One of the great things about working here is that we have dedicated labs for Mechanical, Embedded, Production, and Design teams. Each of us here has exposure to the complete product life cycle thanks to our in-house capabilities to build products from an idea and prototype. This sets us apart from organizations where many tasks are typically outsourced.
We follow Agile for project management. It helps us break down a project into small achievable tasks. As a Scrum Master, I oversee the smooth execution of sprints for the Semi and Software Team. The tasks mainly relate to software development, debugging, and testing of Semi.
Before a sprint begins, I gather the team and cross-functional requirements and decide on the deliverables. During the sprint, I work to remove any blocks that may impede my team members' progress. The software team helps us in development. The culinary team verifies and validates the development. We have daily standups to stay updated about the team’s progress, or any blocks. We have a team-wise review before going for an organizational review. It ensures everything is in order and aligns with the project goals.
What excites you about working with your team?
The cross-functional approach and the focus on Design Thinking. In everything our teams do, user experience is central to everything. A highly collaborative environment is another exciting aspect of working with my team. Even when I make mistakes, they support me and provide valuable insights. This makes problem-solving an exciting process. I find myself learning a lot from them. Their diverse experiences bring practical solutions for every feature we develop. They're open to new ideas and willing to share their insights.
What surprised you about the work culture here?
When I read the job description for Embedded Engineer here, it had everything I was looking for in my new role - learning opportunities, exposure to hardware and software capabilities, and working directly with the CEO, Goutham Gandhi Nadendla. But still, I had my apprehensions. What if the CEO is a big guy with a separate cabin? What if he doesn’t have time to solve my doubts?
All my apprehensions crumbled into pieces as soon as I stepped foot in the office. I was afraid about a separate cabin, but here, the CEO does not even have his own chair. He comes to the office early and leaves the last. He is one of us. He sits with us. He works with us. We can ask any question to him. He responds to everything. The expectations I had from Futuristic Labs and the way it has been met, it was the best thing that happened to me.
What can we improve?
We can define our managerial hierarchies better. It will improve the work structure for junior and senior engineers. Our task requests must follow a structured order instead of coming at random. This is what we’re improving with Agile Project Management. For the Embedded Lab, we can add more tools and equipment to make ourselves more self-reliant. We also need a Tech Lead to guide us moving forward.
What's your most ambitious goal for Futuristic Labs?
At Futuristic Labs, we're not only a product-based company. Currently, we're also creating a complete SDK (Software Development Kit) for kitchen automation. Anyone can use our expertise in this area to build more innovative products. For them, our brand Klynk provides a one-stop solution with products like Riku, Semi, Klynk Recipes, and Klynk App. Along with this, we also have plans for solving other critical societal issues like urban pollution.
I want to witness Futuristic Labs thrive as an industry leader. I envision us growing in three areas: Product, technology, and building a community of problem-solvers. I see a range of solutions emerging from collaborations with other talented individuals and companies who leverage our SDK. I see us making a great positive impact.
What’s the best advice you received from your colleague?
As our teams expanded, we were going through a Change Management Process. During this phase, there is one piece of advice that has stuck with me. I had proposed an issue before the team that required lots of effort to change. Addressing it was important. But I knew my team couldn't take it up on priority for many days. This is when my senior, Veerababu Vattikuti advised me not to wait any longer.
"Don't wait for anyone else to change. Do what's needful."
In Project Management, uncertainty and resistance to change can always creep in. But this powerful advice of not waiting around has been a guiding principle for me to navigate through complex situations.
What’s your favorite recipe on Semi?
Not just because I’ve worked on Semi, but even as an individual, I like Semi. It’s a new tech that lets me savor dishes from diverse cultures. When I go home during vacations, I take Semi with me. Once, it was Eid celebration time and there is one sweet dish ‘Gajar Ka Halwa’ that I wanted to try. The funny thing was, nobody at home knew about the dish. My brother and I had no idea how to cook. But because of Semi, we cooked the delicacy well. My family enjoyed it and my relatives were really curious about the new device.
We are working on great products with great teams. #BuildWithUs