In 2012, Ankit Arora said, “Let’s earn some money.” So he started his own company, Briskminds Software Solutions, in Jaipur, India. In just a few short years since then, he has become a five-time Salesforce MVP and a certified Product Development Partner (PDO) with more than 10 AppExchange listings. But along the way, he discovered an important life/business lesson.
“I spent almost 15-16 hours a day in my starting career for around two years,” Ankit related. “Actually, I worked six to seven months for free for one company. Then I gradually started to think about ‘let’s earn some money.’ Then I started my own company. But eventually, the idea changed. It's no more about earning the money. It's about helping the community,” he realized.
I was a very average student at the college. Very average.
Ankit is now known as the “Force Guru” in the Salesforce community. Prior to becoming an Apex developer, he might not have referred to himself as a Guru. “I was a very average student at the college. Very average,” he admitted. “I started as a Java developer in Metacube. I was trained on Java. In India at our colleges, you learn different languages like Java, C, C++, and that builds your base...a very strong base. That makes our life very easy to switch onto Salesforce because Apex is almost 95 percent similar to Java. There are a few differences which you learn very easily.”
While at Metacube, Ankit explained how his career path shifted to Apex. “Gradually they shifted me towards Salesforce. Once I was into Salesforce, it was very interesting. I just love it! In Java, you have to type in everything, even if you have to create a database you have to type in some code and create tables,” he detailed. “But in Salesforce everything is like point-and-click and it's very easy for every developer. If you have a Java background, it's very easy for you to shift to Salesforce.”
At that point of time, Ankit said there were no discussion boards, no help on Google, very few resources for a fledgling Force.com developer. “I thought the problems that I faced, other developers should not,” he determined. “That's why I started contributing on community and I have around 2,500 posts on discussion boards. The problems that I faced, I don't want anybody else to face that.”
Ankit then shifted his entrepreneurial goal a bit. “I just love talking to people. Getting in touch with them. How I can help with them. How I can improve their business process, let's say. And how I can add some kind of a value to their business. It's kind of a passion for me. So it's no more about the money. It's all about connecting people. But the money is good!”
Ankit’s dedication to the Salesforce community and his growing business has made him a very busy guy. “I'm a developer user group leader in Jaipur. I wrote Force.com Tips and Tricks. I'm a MVP for the last four years. I'm a moderator on Salesforce discussion boards. I'm a certified Admin and a developer as well. I'm running a team of 18 developers. I'm married as well. So, yes, I'm managing all this stuff and I'm really very busy,” he laughed.
The cloud aspects of the Force.com platform have enabled Ankit, his team and his clients to all connect, collaborate and enable him to manage his busy life. “It's not like you have to go in the office and work for 8-10 hours...no it's not like that,” he said. “If my team is working on their own, I can sit along with my wife and work. I can give her time. I can give time to my family. I can work from anywhere. That is the best part of working on Salesforce. I'm not restricted to any place or something. That is why I can manage my stuff very easily.”
His ability to juggle his responsibilities and still contribute to the Salesforce community has resulted in Ankit becoming a multi-year MVP honoree. “I was one of the early birds in MVPs,” he recalled. “It started in 2011 and I became a MVP in 2012. After becoming a MVP, it was a game-changer, seriously. I was approached by so many clients.”
If you want to make your customers happy,
make your employees happy.
Ankit is enthusiastic about helping his clients, his developers, and the Salesforce community. “I used to code. But now I mingle around with my developers. If you want to make your customers happy, make your employees happy,” he expounds. “Learn the nature and behavior of new companies, what they are trying to do, about their other partners...it actually fascinates me a lot.”
The Jaipur Salesforce developer user group is another forum Ankit is proud to help lead. “We thought it's a very good idea to get all the developers at the same time, talk about something common which can help them, or let them share their thoughts on a good platform. In my first meeting I think there was only 25 or 30 people. But in a time span of five years, we have 100 or 110 developers who attend user group meetings. The enthusiasm is really great. With the help of these user groups, everybody is now connected.”
Along with the success of developer user groups, Ankit points to Trailhead as a major leap in fostering the growth of the Force.com platform in India. “Prior to Trailhead, it was a very big headache for us,” he disclosed. “I started with the Force.com Workbook, then Fundamentals, then Apex, then Visualforce workbooks. That was the basic training which most companies follow in India. With Trailhead, it's very easy for me to train my trainees. It's no more my headache. I just tell them that 'Go ahead with this trail, that trail and all' and they do it by themselves. After Trailhead, it's really easy. That is an awesome thing which I have ever seen in Salesforce!”
Ankit advises new Salesforce developers to get started with Trailhead and he illustrates how the innovative training program helps expedite the training process. “Before Trailhead, there was a long process you needed to follow for three or four months,” he recounted. “Three or four months is sufficient time for anyone who wants to learn Salesforce and hold onto it. After Trailhead, it's now shortened to two months or so. It's nice.”
As a Salesforce PDO Partner, Briskminds now has over 10 product listings on the AppExchange. Ankit is pleased with the process he and his team have established for developing and listing products.
“I have end-to-end experience on AppExchange building an application...building it in such a way that you clear the security issues in a first or second shot,” he explains. “It's very difficult to clear an application on the first shot. We build the application in a way that it goes on the AppExchange really smooth and makes the experience to the customer really great.”
I’m thinking to build some products
Ankit looks ahead at future goals for his company and his beloved Salesforce community as more of a Sage than a Guru. “I'm currently a service-based company. I'm a product-developing partner…I'm thinking to build some products. That is my first goal. My second is to expand my team a lot. Currently, I have around 18 developers working with me. I want to make it around 100 or so in the coming two years. The difficulties being a director in a company or running a company is basically getting good talent,” he related.
Following the advice of this Guru is easy since he is ubiquitous on social media. “I'm also known as Force Guru everywhere – on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Facebook. I spend about 2-3 hours a day every day helping the community on discussion boards and blogs. My blog is Forceguru.blogspot.com. Anywhere if you find Force Guru, you find me,” Ankit affirmed.
For this self-declared “average student” turned entrepreneur, then MVP, then Guru…his shift to the Salesforce platform has enabled him to find fulfillment in something more than making money. “It's all about community. Everybody is into it without thinking of what will be the return or what I'll get out of it. The community makes my life easy – managing my family, my business, and the user groups. It's all about community,” Ankit realized.