Why I Started Turbo Systems

Hari Subramanian speaking
Hari Subramanian, CEO & Founder, Turbo Systems. November 26, 2018.

When I was (t)asked to write this, I gave myself a few goals:

  • Overcome my irrational dislike of blogging (or blahgging as I like to call it)
  • Complete the entire exercise in one sitting so it is not calculated but heartfelt and authentic
  • Avoid referring to a thesaurus as much as possible

Here we go (gulp):

A constant theme of my nearly half-a-century of existence is the idea of always having an impact. The amazing impact people, products and procedures have had on me, and my incessant desire to have a meaningful impact on those intersecting my orbit.

In my early days growing up in deep Southeastern India, an old woman would visit our tiny rental home once every month to borrow Five Rupees from my dad so she could eat a few meals. Even though my dad struggled to make ends meet for all of us, he never once declined. In fact, he would save up all month just so he could support this complete stranger. When I asked him as to why he did this, he responded with these impactful words: “No matter how difficult things get, know there are others worse off than you. Be grateful for what you have. More importantly, share whatever you have with others.”. My eyes well up as I am typing this.

A great leader I absolutely admire to this day, even though he made me slog for 18 hours a day with no weekend breaks, once told me: “You should always do work that is bigger than you. Never do work that is smaller than you.”. He was obviously not referring to the quantum of work but the sheer nature of work. Such was the impact those words had on me, that I continue to use it as a benchmark. I would get restless if at any moment I knew exactly what needed to be done. I always sought things that overwhelmed me, appeared beyond my grasp or even scared me. If not, I was bored very quickly.

My ten years as the co-founder & CTO of ServiceMax, from idea to unicorn, were profoundly impactful in many ways. There were trials & tribulations, aptly balanced by triumphs & trophies. There were days I wished I were abducted by aliens so I could avoid an escalation call. Then there was that day a medical device customer thanked me profusely because our product helped them save lives by reducing machine downtime! Not a dull moment through it all. I got a unique opportunity to observe the 3 big forces impacting all functions of a business: generational and cultural shift, mind-numbing pace of technological innovation, and a dizzying number of ways business models are disrupted. The experience led to a deep conviction that technology, when applied thoughtfully, can enable businesses to embrace change instead of fighting it.

Magically intertwined with my ServiceMax story was a completely different kind of a startup journey, one whose sole purpose was to save poor children from the jaws of death. This mission to deliver free advanced Cardiac surgeries was started by a dear friend whose primary investment was the romantic belief that humans are inherently good and great things are possible when that spark of goodness is kindled. This truly remarkable story was unfolding as I was marching through milestones and releases at ServiceMax. As if it were orchestrated by a mysterious hand, my liquidation opportunities were precisely aligned with my friend’s goals in his life-giving mission. The poetic high point being GE’s acquisition of ServiceMax coinciding with the dedication of this heart-shaped hospital in India. I am humbled that even an average person like me can play a small yet significant role in saving lives on a daily basis. And I am forever motivated to do more!

After my time at ServiceMax, slowly dissolving into insignificance -in other words, writing blogs- was a very real choice for me. However, the more time I spent idle, the more intense was my desire to have an even bigger impact. I am thankful to all those that contacted me with brilliant startup ideas and mind-blowing business opportunities. Evaluating those opportunities helped me to create the following framework to determine my next act:

Why the problem? Is the problem worth solving in terms of timing, necessity and magnitude? Will customers pay to get this problem solved?

Why me? What makes me uniquely qualified to solve this problem? Having a toothache doesn’t merit one to be a dentist after all.

Will the problem remain fresh and reveal newer dimensions as time goes on, so there is a continuous opportunity to engage meaningfully? Or is this a webcam cover situation?

After this framework emerged, it did not take very long to home-in on Turbo Systems: A comprehensive no-code platform that anyone in a company can use to create & rollout complex enterprise applications in a matter of minutes. Our mission is to dramatically change the way in which modern technologies are put to work, and help businesses achieve unprecedented agility and productivity.

Turbo is the culmination of every life lesson I’ve learnt, personal and professional. It is about continuing the constant theme of having the highest meaningful impact. On me. On people around me. On the businesses Turbo will serve. On the children whose lives will be saved. On the world.

I am passionate, energized, overwhelmed, excited, scared, confident, and ready! More now than ever before.

Hari headshot
Written by Hari Subramanian Founder and CTO at Appify. Hari has worked for more than 30 years in Enterprise software in various roles including support engineer, programmer, solution architect, and engineering leader.