Coding Her Way To The Limelight: Geethu Sivakumar

Desire to achieve drives you every day to let go of all distractions and work relentlessly toward that goal that is considered impossible by the weak. You burn the midnight oil without a break just so that years down the memory lane, you don’t spend a fine evening regretting the action that you did not take. The fire inside you kindles the people around you to help you achieve that goal, and the day you reach that dream stop, the world smiles at you in acknowledgment.

Living this dream is a coding enthusiast from Kerala whose childhood passion for web development led her to start her own company in her second year of college. Neither the blinding lights nor darkness could stop her determination to pursue what she loved. Her story is an ideal example of how life will be fair with those who dare to make the bolder move. 

In conversation with Geethu Sivakumar, whose brainchild PACE delivers modern technological solutions to your needs to establish your venture as a critical player in the competitive market.

Tell us about yourself, your ventures, and your passion.

I launched my start-up during my second year of college in 2015. I got selected as the best web developer of Kerala at the IT fest conducted by the Govt of Kerala and Technopark in 2011 when I was 15. Since then, I have been a freelance developer from my high school days. I then got a chance to represent India as a student ambassador in Japan for two weeks. That was an eye-opener for me and exposure to the technologies there.

I was motivated by going to many business events and reading about successful founders. I always had a passion for FMCG and retail. Because of being continually in the service industry, I wanted to have some tangible products as well. This new year I founded my coffee brand Ricardo. We offer instant and filter coffee powders. We are presently selling online.

What made you fall in love with coding? How did you feed this passion right from school days?

I had spent nearly three years of my school life dedicated solely to coding. From my 8th standard, till I reached 11th standard, I had this huge desire to be the best web developer in Kerala, and I kept on doing the preparation day and night. Even during sleep, at one point, the dreams I used to have were about codes. But I never realized that I was loving what I was doing and never got bored of it in the process. I liked coding so much. I also didn’t discover that the work I did that time would help me do something more significant later.

You funded your first start-up while you were in the second year of BTech. Tell us the story behind founding it.

As a student, the idea of a startup started growing in my mind, and when the opportunity came, I grabbed it. I was only 19 at that time, and the motivation to own a venture was thrilling. From my childhood, I had a saving mentality and a flair to increase money. I slowly realized that I loved to code and also that I cannot be happy doing a job. I wanted to contribute to society, create employment and work for my dream, most importantly. That’s how I finally decided to startup; that’s all that I loved to do.

What are the services that are provided at PACE?

We offer IT services like web development, mobile applications, software development & enterprise applications, digital marketing & branding, analytics, and automation.

At PACE, we believe in delivering sustainable solutions to our customers. PACE believes in using technology as a thrust to grow businesses. We handhold new entrants in the industry and transform and grow organically by developing their technology base. Our portfolio enables us to help companies in designing, developing, troubleshooting, and delivering sustainable options.

How did your experience with freelancing and then starting up the mold you as a person?

I learned a lot about the industry and how things worked and got a lot of tech experience. I learned to work in a team, especially in remote teams where none have seen each other. I learned to communicate better, document things better, and a lot more. I had a lot of bad experiences as well. Most of my skills were developing that time, and as a person, I learned to deal with people and learned that not everyone is good and not everyone is terrible.

After founding a startup, the major transformation in me was that I shifted a lot into being a management person from a core tech person. I learned that people skills and management skills are the most essential for any entrepreneur. I became a better person and developed a lot of my interpersonal and management skills. From a shy introvert to speaking at events and talking to people all day was a massive personal transformation for me.

Tell us about your team at PACE. How did you meet them?

When I recruit people, I look not only at her or his mark sheet. Marks and grades have their place, but they are not everything. I look for that spark and fire in people to achieve something. If your fundamentals and thought processes are clear and logical, you can succeed in whatever you do. So, my dream team does not consist of university toppers. They consist of professionals with the right learning curve. We continuously look for good people who are good at what they do practically. Most people with me are the ones I have either worked with or met during events or meetings. Or someone whose practical skillset is perfect. But most importantly they also need to have some social skills and be good enough to work with other people.

When was the breakthrough for your career as a startup founder and a coding enthusiast?

Being just a startup from Trivandrum, we could crack the international market and get some large projects from Europe and the US from some prestigious clients. That was a moment when we were able to say that we did something. Some of them had some research element in them. That was exciting to work with.

These days parents are excited about exposing their children to coding right from an early age. What are your views on this? How should it be done?

I believe parents should completely stay out of making such decisions for children and leave them to choose what they like. Many parents force their children to do many things they don’t actually like, and they end up cursing their job, which seems like an effort to them. Coding is one such thing that you can’t force upon anyone. Suppose the person doesn’t like to code; it’s impossible to force them to like it. Love for coding should come from inside.

But if a child likes coding, then parents can help them. I mostly learned it on my own, from books and by referring online (YouTube was not so popular back then, and data was expensive). Self-learning is the best. All the materials required are available online. One only needs the desire to learn.

But self-learning is not a preferred option by some people. For them, online courses and YouTube videos can be used. All the required information is available online now. But no matter what course someone learns, for being a master in coding, practice is the key. 

What are your plans? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I have launched my coffee brand Ricardo recently. Being a retail brand, it takes more time than IT to grow and establish. I have many plans with the brand, and I want to penetrate the market and develop it slowly.

Regarding IT, I want to increase the market presence and expand more. I feel IT business is relatively more straightforward than FMCG. I also want to do some electronics projects which I have in mind, sometime in the future.

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