Krishna Lodha

GIS has grown a lot, as the open source technologies grow. – Krishna Lodha

Interview with Krishna Lodha

Krishna Lodha

GIS developer
Founding Partner at Rotten Grapes Pvt. Ltd.
Support Engineer at GeoSolutions
Nashik, Maharashtra, India

Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey with us?

I finished my Graduation back in 2016 in civil engineering field from my hometown Nashik. During college life I was interested In how software that can be used in civil engineering like auto CAD or sketch up or something like that, I was always learning this software is more than the books, We also had a master’s degree available in our college and I used to attend their software classes, seminars for project management to Learn different software is like ERP, Microsoft project.

After Graduation, I was working as a government contractor with couple of my friends but very soon I got tired of that. And then I started working at an outsourcing company in Pune, which was the first time that I realise that this software can actually make a good income, after 8-9 months I started freelancing.

I still remember my first job was for Roofing company in USA for four dollars per hour. And then I realised that it’s crazy we can do so much things with freelancing so I started learning more software’s like Revit, 3DS Max, etc.

Q2. You are a Civil Engineer then what did attract you towards GIS domain instead of civil domain?

When I was working with software’s one day one of my professor called me and asked me to attend a three days faculty training on GIS, at the time I was in Nasik so I thought okay let’s just attend that, and that was the first time I Got to know what is GIS, The software’s and Web capabilities really took my interest after that three days session I visited the faculty to get more information about it.

I thought maybe doing masters in GIS is correct decision at that time, I started doing some research and at the same time I Started searching people who have completed this degree in order to understand what do the universities actually teach in the course, most of the people told me that if you enroll for the course most of the time you’ll be learning stuff that can help you in research but when I told them that my end goal is to be able to create web applications using GIS then most of them replied to me that maybe then this is not the right way for you to go, then my brother told me that The best way for me to experience what it is like to be a GIS Developer is to actually work like that, and then I started searching for companies who can hire people who have no idea about programming, no idea about GIS as well but just willing to learn.

And then that’s how I got my first job as a GIS developer, I guess working in start-up At the start of your career is one of the wisest decision I have ever taken, Then being I was working on everything, I was talking with clients, I was developing Front end and I was also developing the APIs, I was also testing, In very short span of time I was able to work with all these different parts of web development which boosted my career.

Q3. You are a founding partner at Rotten Grapes. Please share a brief about your endeavor and what kind of projects do you deal at Rotten Grapes?

So I started this company During pandemic, as it was becoming very hectic for me to Manage the projects that I had, initially I was very afraid to start this because I had very few clients and I was not sure whether I will be able to sustain this or not, but fortunately the work that we delivered attracted lot of clients. Right now we are dealing with Lot of big players around the globe, Indian government bodies, et cetera

We are trying to bring more and more open source technologies in to the picture, everyone knows about stuff like openlayers, leafletjs, Geoserver, etc. But there are so much more than that. I recently talked at FOSS4g Conference, and the workshops are talks there were simply amazing, I attended so many talks which were quite new to me. I then started studying more about maptiler stack, mapproxy for caching, etc.

We at rotten grapes are trying to provide such exciting tech for clients, we have deployed highly secured, scaled application entirely built in open source stack which potentially saved lot of subscription fees that clients were paying at that time to use Enterprise level solutions.

Application development is one part of our organization, but at the same time, RnD is another, we have people in house whose sole job is to keep on exploring new tech, new solutions for future clients.

Q4. What are the essential things required to become a Full Stack GIS Developer? Please share a fine way to become a GIS Developer?

I guess the true path to become a full stack developer is to not concentrate on being full stack developer. Best way is to get started with just either working on front-end or on backend, once you get Confidence in either of those you can then start learning the remaining one. Most of the time I deal with open source technologies, and I believe that is going to grow a lot in upcoming future since these technologies are becoming very stable and reliant every passing day.

One thing that I realize that most of the university curriculum includes software and applications which are either paid or of enterprise level, which actually stops students from exploring the open source realm. We have developed such complex applications in the past using entirely open source technologies which includes machine learning, routing, predictions et cetera.

IT’s very important for you to not come into this for money. I mean it. I see people who now has mindset that We’ll start at x CTC and then with y years of experience it will become z, Only thing I keep on telling them is you are in CS industry for god sake, only thing that is keeping you from taking high jump is your own mind set, I think CS is that industry where 19 year old can also bag a 7 figure job, I personally have hired 16 year old girl as a freelance developer. I would like to tell everyone that please leave this mindset, the path of growth in CS has high chances of being exponential if you are willing to take efforts.

In order to be full stack developer I think it’s important for you to have that confidence regardless of what technology you use that you can actually solve the problem.

Q5. What other skills will you recommend in order for people to grow their career in development?

I would highly recommend every developer out there every designer out there to start blogging and creating videos from now on. I talk with so many interesting people who have double digits years of experience in development, but they still don’t have their portfolio website. Creating website nowadays is not even a matter of weeks but a matter of few days, I have talked with people who have immense knowledge but since they haven’t written a single piece of blog or created a single video No one knows about it.

One of the Key thing which helped me personally as well as my company to grow is the blogs and videos that I have out there, if you look at those videos those are very basic ones but it drives a lot of traffic which actually converts into the business.

The most common fear or the most common problem that I hear about when I advise people to start writing blog or to create video is that they are not a professional writer or they are not a professional video editor. To tell you the truth that is still case with me and I still feel that, I still make a lot of grammatical mistakes, errors while creating videos, the truth is everyone who started this journey feels the same way, and The easiest way to overcome this fear is to start writing draft blogs, my medium account right now has 10 times more draft blogs that my published blogs, once I write a blog I share it with my friends For them to read it and find out the grammatical mistakes, a way I can improve the blog, et cetera.

The reason to do this is not to earn through it, my earning from my YouTube videos till now is I guess Rs.300/- but the amount of business I got form it is sky rocketing, you have to understand that these blogs, videos will present you to the world even when you are sleeping. You don’t have to put content every single day, try putting a video a month, a blog every 15 days, I’ll tell you, your first 100 views of videos, first comment on your blog will give you the exact dopamine hit that you need to keep moving.

Apart from this next skill I would recommend is to start contributing to open source projects, man! It is really great, you get to be a part of group of geniuses who are at least 100 times better than us. But the fact you can communicate with them, understand how they think and write code really helps to grow,

Q6. How do you see GIS for future and how it is important for world?

In past few years applications have of GIS has grown a lot, as the open source technologies grow and mature every single day more and more people can leverage The location information of their products, clients in order to create more sophisticated business logic. I also help lot of companies in hiring consultation et cetera and I can practically guarantee you that there are more jobs for GIS developers available than Actual good GIS developers.

Few years back only major customer for GIS industry was Government body, but as the data become available, and technology became cheaper, now a days lot of businesses rely on Geographic data, The market might look very small for an outsider, but once you are in the niche, you can see work that will keep you busy for at least next 100 years.

In acquiring GIS developer is a unique skill as it requires the background of GIS as well as computer science I will highly recommend you guys to try it out. If you want to understand what exactly is the job of GIS developers and what are the ways that you can explore the world of GIS I do have videos and blogs about it on my YouTube channel and on my official website which can definitely help you

Q7. What kind of problems have you faced maximum in your GIS projects and how did you remove it?

The most common problem that I face every day is actually try to use the open source technologies, as I said even though these are very mature they are still in development it’s not always easy to find a good documentation, And I believe That’s why understanding them is so important because once you know how to use this technology is you become very rare asset.

For all newbies out there, one of the easiest way you can learn a technology and also contribute to the project is simply jumping in to make documentation better, while doing this you will understand the actually technology and also you’ll have enough knowledge to start working with the same tech on real life projects.

Q8. Which one thing do you want to change in yourself and why?

One thing I would like to improve will be management of my time. One of the most important thing when you start freelancing or even your own agency is to understand how you can grow in very short span of time prior to pandemic it was very hard to imagine having teams entirely remote but right now we are living in an age where hiring people has become easier than ever, I would like to improve on my management skills where than I can manage multiple projects multiple teams at multiple time zones in order to make sure that rotten grapes runs smoothly and grows at the same time.

The easiest way for us to scale is to be very smart about hiring, and also getting projects. As a new company you definitely don’t want to spend money on things that you can’t afford, The tricky thing is to understand what resources you have to hire full time and what resources you can get whenever you need, it’s very hard to do this matter because you don’t know what future holds for you, many times you will hire and there won’t be any opportunity or business coming in, but there is also a possibility that you might get a really good offer that client want you to start immediately, but now you are thinking what to do because you don’t have the capabilities.

I have been in the same situation for quite a few times now, and easiest way I have dealt with this is to hire freelancers, websites like upwork, fiverr, etc. Are now key part of our strategy planning? One of the very important thing that most of the new agencies including me made mistakes in earlier days is not investing much in the management part of the company, we think that since we are a technological company it’s always good to spend money on getting developers, designers et cetera but we don’t think that hiring management is required. I have personally experienced that hiring manager might be a little bit costly from time to time but it saves you so much time that you can actually focus on getting more business, again if you just want to try this strategy go ahead and find some freelance project manager on websites rather than looking for someone full time.

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