Two and something years at Servelots

Situated on a busy main road in bustling bangalore the small homely office of Servelots Infotech Pvt Ltd can’t be missed with its overgrown trees and curious paintings on the front walls of the building.

More often than not, there are pets lurking around the premises. Don't let the boring blue servelots signage fool you. This place is anything but.

Servelots is the child of this man:

TB Dinesh- A Computer Scientist

Servelots is currently a web development company comprising of generally under ten members.

We share space with AGNII a group of performance artists who use the space mostly to create “things” and practice the djembe. Currently we also house namma cycle . A well known cycle startup led by Murali - A man determined to get as many bangaloreans on cycles.

For me, servelots has been since the moment i walked in late january 2014 - a place of liberty.

This liberty was a key element of what i was looking for in a job.

Let me explain: Anyone can walk into servelots at any time and pitch an idea and work on it here. Janastu embraces new ideas. So much so that Janastu has been sponsors of barcamp bangalore for sometime now. Janastu by the way is our ngo alter ego.

Few months in and as i learnt more about the company and its projects, i appreciated their 'technology for society' ethos. With projects like Alipi where dinesh believes getting technology to the massive semi-literate, illiterate masses of India is the next big thing. I’d like to think the name servelots comes from that ethos and means serving-lots of people. Same goes for Janastu. Jana meaning people in kannada.

Some of our team

Nearly three months into my first job, i was driven to a project that looked quiet exciting to me. Code name Virtual Library, the central aim of this project was to answer the question: Is it possible to virtualize a real world space like an office, museum or a library in a cheap, quick and efficient manner and deploy as a web-app.

Now this question is vague and you would say well that depends on a lot of things like how real do you want it? Or how interactive does it need to be? Etc.

I should explain that writing code and understanding logic is something i dislike but know is inevitable in today’s world of app development. So that part of the project always felt daunting. Nevertheless the whole experience was one of excitement. Especially the parts where i try 3d scanners and learn 360 photography. Working with three.js was really cool although making something of the caliber of apps displayed on their homepage was a distant dream.

Through the months, i had to interact with professionals in fields of image processing and CG to understand and validate our core concept. This was also a rewarding experience. Today however, things have changed. It is clear now that i lack the understanding of core concepts of various aspects of the project. Couple that with unclear project goals, it makes sense that the project suffered from months of stagnation. This makes it clear that i don't possess the skills to lead this project. Yet.

To quote a lame superhero’s uncle: “With great power comes great responsibility”

It feels to me now that the liberty that was so important to me at the start of my first job was something i took for granted. Every Time i was stuck with my project, it was easy to find distractions at servelots. With agnii’s loud tamil and djembe echoing through the walls of the office and with the many projects we have on our plate. It was disheartening to see projects like pondymap and ncbs25 come and go as i sat stuck in the corner of the office. In the last year alone, i witnessed a sizable car service center get built from scratch down the road from the office. This was a wake up call to realize that time was against me.

As i sit here next to the headless, battered monster of vlib, i am hopeful. Although i have not accomplished what i set out to do, and that my identity is less clear than before, i am better off than i was when i started. Thank you servelots. I learnt a lot things here, like living with a pet, eating ragi mudde, the weirdness of butoh, that raspberry pi’s are not edible. Oh and that open source is kickass.