Engineering products with passion: Vinayak Ganapuram on his role at Crayon

Published April 1, 2022   |   

My curiosity towards building products started when I first began working on Encarta (a digital multimedia encyclopedia) at Microsoft. I wanted to know how products were conceived, built, deployed, managed, serviced, scaled. I essentially wanted to be part of the entire product lifecycle. That keeps me passionate, interested, and motivated till date. 

There have been several defining moments that shaped my approach to engineering 

To recall a few: 

1/ The exposure I had to Unix systems, building command line applications using C. There was nothing but a terminal. That’s where everything would happen. I learnt how to debug complex programs using GDB and print statements. The limitation of working on a terminal made me a command line and keyboard ninja. This experience also helped build my first principle thinking around systems, that helps me learn new things till date. 

2/ At ZoomIn, I had quickly transitioned from a senior engineer to heading the entire engineering function. I learnt the fundamentals of building distributed systems while working with Sunny Rao (ex-CEO, ZoomIn) on the next generation of the products and transitioning infrastructure to Cloud from data centers. 

3/ At Pickyourtrail, I helped the product and engineering functions to almost 5-6x, including revenue. It taught me a whole lot about scaling teams and software, identifying and being a scaler, working with founders and above all, scaling myself. 

These earlier experiences help me think across domains quite comfortably  

In turn, I’m able to help build systems that span these domains. At the end of the day, we’re catering to the same customer. When we take this view, it’s simpler to think in term of AI. Now, at Crayon, I can relate most to the value “Get shit done”. Focus on the core objective, get it out of the way, and move on to the next challenge.  

I’m also very fond of reading and discovering technologies. I always have a reading list at the ready. Invariably, it is filled with in-depth, long-form content that helps me learn better. I also enjoy writing about tech on my blog. It’s my way of passing forward the knowledge and giving back to the community. 

Predictions for AI and ML 

AI & ML are technologies that can propel innovation really fast. With technologies controlling most of our basic needs, Responsible AI & ML will be particularly important. Personalization will become the de facto feature that all customers will expect across services. With digital security being more important than ever, building personalization without using personal information will be crucial. And Crayon Data is already doing this today. 

I’m Vinayak, VP, Engineering at Crayon Data. I have been part of multiple 0 to 1 and x to x10x growth stories and I love doing that.