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Meet Pratham Agrawal – Founder of Canonic, A Low Code Back To Your Frontend

Today we have selected Pratham Agrawal to take his interview. He is the Founder Of Canonic.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

We’re doing great! It has been stressful at times because many of our family members and friends got Covid. But fortunately, none of us in the team got it, and all of our family members and friends recovered well.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

Being passionate about coding, I went to the University of Illinois, USA, to do my bachelor’s in Computer Engineering. During my course, I got to intern with Yahoo, and towards my final year, I realized that I wanted to come back to India and start my own business. Therefore I dropped out of college. In 2015, I started a Design and Development Agency. For 3 years, we built multiple projects for various clients. Some of the projects had very similar backend with minor tweaks and a different frontend. I always felt I could have saved multiple hours of effort if this kind of information was already structured in the backend and only its front-end was required to be built. In 2018, I joined Haptik and grew to become the Technical Frontend lead within 2 years of working. Even for a few internal tool projects and hackathons at Haptik, I noticed a similar problem and a need for innovation. That’s when I decided to build Canonic.

How does your company innovate?

Innovation comes in with the freedom to experiment, daring to try something new, and accepting feedback. Every Saturday, we conduct a workshop/hackathon within our team where we build simple products on Canonic to find various problems, gaps, and use-cases. We also maintain a community of our users on discord. We collect feedback in bugs and feature requests and allow people to test features before they are released to a bigger audience via early access. A healthy balance is maintained for deciding features driven by user and customer feedback and ideas driven by internal team brainstorm sessions. The organizational structure allows our team to innovate and experiment by backing strong reason, research, and data.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Covid has affected businesses in a way that brought about a change in how teams and individuals work. Today, there is a higher need for automation, reducing cross-skill dependencies, and taking the products early to the market to test and iterate. This is where no-code/low code tools are turning out to be extremely useful, thus making it the best time to build Canonic. In terms of how it impacted our team and business, hiring has been one of the
biggest challenges. People are scared of change and keener and keener on working remotely, which leads to onboarding new colleagues – getting them to understand company culture, how we work, our mission, etc. We are coping with it by keeping strong communication channels such as Slack and Gmail, remaining active and available to respond to our colleagues, and having strong documentation on Notion.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Starting a business in covid times came with its own set of challenges. One of them is being able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It wasn’t easy choosing between giving time to a new business vs. taking care of my relationships with friends and family. Another difficult choice I had to make was pivoting our core business strategy. We started as a Headless CMS concept and then gradually moved to Low CodeProCode. Setting up a new business requires you to figure out office space and hiring the right team. Given the difficult scenario in India, choosing a remote work strategy for a new team and company was a difficult choice. Some of the lessons I learned are always being patient, persistent, prioritizing tasks to manage your time well, and always having a strong support system in the form of family, friends, and mentors who help you endure this journey more smoothly.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Our toolset to work efficiently includes JIRA for managing tasks, Slack for communication, Google Meet for video conferencing, Notion to maintain and manage all our documentation, and our own tool – Canonic – for creating many internal tools for our processes. We are a team of highly self-motivated individuals. Once the quarterly targets are set
to achieve certain goals, we encourage people to create tickets and prioritize what they would like to pick up and work upon during our weekly sprint and thus achieve those goals. We motivate people during the sprint and ensure they are unblocked as soon as possible, which facilitates the completion of work. This helps the team remain stress-free and productive.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Many different low-code/no-code tools out there help make your life easy, like Canonic, Xeno, Google Firebase, Backendless, and many more. What set’s us apart is complete and absolute flexibility to build your backend. Canonic is a #CodeOptional tool where you can scale as you go and never get restricted. We believe in having a good user interface and experience while giving superpower to the developers. With good security, self-serve modules, and affordable pricing, we can set a good industry standard which will, in turn, help us go a long way.

Your final thoughts

I want to stress how important it is to stay positive and help each other during these stressful times. We launched our product back in October when lockdowns were taking place across nations. It was a difficult time, but having a great team to back you made it easy. Please make the most use of different tools for collaboration in your team; they help bridge the communication gap. I hope everybody stays safe and takes every precaution possible in this pandemic while continuing to innovate and invent.

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