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Journey from a UX Engineer to Startup Founder

Interview with Kanad Bahalkar, Co-founder of Potion
July 12, 2022
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Kanad Bahalkar is the CPO & Co-founder of Potion. Previously, he also was a UX Engineer at Google, and a Co-founder at PiraShield, an Anti-piracy search engine. He was also an early employee at Knit Health, a camera that could detect sleeping and breathing disorders using AI. Both PiraShield and Knit Health exited with a successful acquisition.

What inspired you to take a leap from working as an Engineer to starting your own company (Potion)?

I came to the US about 10 years ago with one goal in mind - to start a startup in Silicon Valley. I came here as a student and got a Master’s degree in Boston. My parents had mortgaged their home to pay for my college tuition. After graduating, I worked hard and paid back all my student loans as quickly as possible, so my parents would be debt free and I could finally take that leap and move to the Bay Area.

I was heavily inspired by seeing how Google, Apple, and all these other awe inspiring companies springing out of the Bay Area. I really wanted to be in this melting pot of techies who just wanted to build cool stuff and then somehow ended up reshaping the world as we know it. 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever got?

The best piece of advice I ever got was from my father. I was leaving India to come here and he came with my mom to drop me at the airport. He told me something in my native language that roughly translates to “No complaints. No excuses.” I abide by that piece of advice every day. 

What makes you excited about working in tech? 

Oh! What doesn't make me excited about working in tech? Honestly, I find something new and truly exciting almost every week. Just think about how our lives have changed compared to a decade ago. Having the knowledge and understanding of how it all works and you possessing the ability to build it with your own hands is just really exciting to me. 

How do you keep your technology skills current?

I keep my sword sharp by taking up new courses. I've dedicated 30 minutes to my calendar every day as “Learning hour”. Every night I’m learning something new, usually going through a course on Udemy or YouTube. My courses range from anything coding to startup operations to sales, basically anything that could help me run Potion in a better way. I’ve also recently signed up for PM and Product Leadership classes at Product School.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a leader?

I’m facing my biggest professional challenges right now - managing and growing a fully remote engineering team. I'm also certain that it is going to get even more challenging over time. We have FTEs and contractors in Mexico, Canada, India, Europe, and Singapore and our headquarters are in San Francisco. Managing all of that while providing the highest quality support to your customers by crushing bugs and short response times is actually very difficult. But that's what makes it fun!

Learn more about Potion.

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