Burning The Midnight Transistor For Social Good — A Techie’s Journey Over Two Years At A Nonprofit

September 29, 2016
By Rang De Team

The Technology team used to just have 3–4 working professionals in the past. We are keen to hire more and you can find the list of vacancies at our Tech Careers page


I am currently a Staff Engineer at the Technology Team in Rang De. I joined in January 2014 after graduating from the Ghaziabad Vishweshvarya Institute of Engineering Technology.

This is my first job and I have seen the Rang De technology team grow a lot over two years.

When I was interviewed, the requirement was for Advanced Java but the Vice-President of Technology was understanding when I said I only knew Core Java.

It took me three months to learn Core Java completely.

I had a lovely one-hour long conversation about a lot of tech topics. I had never worked for an NGO and had no idea what they do. It was only when I started working here that I understood the cause, the work, the culture and the people.

Everybody was supportive towards a techie hailing from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Working first as a back-end developer, I worked on the front end when there was a need and now I am close to being a full stack developer — working on Java, front-end and the back-end!

Sandeep has helped improve our Campaigns module where people can kickstart their own projects like this one that helped us celebrate Sachin’s double century with the tagline “Thank you Sachin Tendulkar for 24 years of glory! Now, it’s our turn. Join us to support fellow Indians” raising Rs 42,000 that helped provide microcredit for 84 borrowers

I am responsible for improving the campaign module — people can go on our Campaigns page and start a campaign to get others involved in the cause by starting a project of their own like how one Social Investor did an online campaign that has raised 63 lakhs over the past two years.

I have created customised landing pages for various occasions where we try to generate interest like during the 2014 World Cup, last Diwali and when we had a tie-up with One Plus for their phone launch.

During the World Cup, I created the cheque pickup option that allows Social Investors to commit to an investment and we can just pick up a cheque. We want to make things as easy as possible for people who want to use our platform to contribute microcredit so this was an example of when we went the extra mile.

It took me just seven hours to come up with the code for this new payment option!

It was a big achievement for me because working on the payment flow is critical for any organisation and I was a very junior professional. My supervisor was on leave so I was asked to work on it. It was scary at first but I did it.

That whole campaign was conceptualised, coded and made live within 36 hours before the start of the World Cup! It was just me, a senior programmer and our video editor and we were up till 3 in the morning in the night.

I slept in the office at 3 and woke up at 8 and started working at 9 for a full 12 hours!

Another achievement I am proud of is when we partnered with One Plus. By making an investment on the landing page, people could get a One Plus invite and within a day, 200 investors signed up.

It was during Dussehra as well but there was no holiday for me back then as others had taken leave while my colleague Rajesh and Swati were working on the back-end at home while I was working on the front-end.

It was exactly that day when our Chief Technology Officer Aroj joined the organisation as well. He has now worked here for 10 months and has high hopes for the growth of our team in the coming years.

www.habba.org is our sister project that Sandeep worked on and it seeks to get rural artisans a chance to get a fair price for their products on our own dedicated eCommerce platform

I have also worked on Rang De’s sister project Habba’s relaunch in August 2015. I integrated the HTML and CSS code sourced from a third party and we had 15 days to integrate the checkout flow. We had to start from scratch for the user interface.

We were up till 4 in the morning on Independence Day!

Why have I worked long nights at Rang De? Because I like such challenges. It is interesting when we have a target and you have to work together as a team to do something good for society. I like the work culture here as well — whatever you want to learn, they will give you an opportunity to explore like how we are supporting a social worker who wants to learn how to become a software professional. Even if you don’t always get things right at first, the team is always supportive.

During Christmas in 2014, it was very difficult for me as there was a server failure. I did the release and I thought I had deleted the whole server!

We contacted a senior professional that we knew and he found out that Alden Hosting were having technical difficulties during the holiday week.

Now, technology at Rang De is a much more happening place. The work is very streamlined. Earlier, there used to be a lot of work for the average programmer but we now have a team of 12 people. We help one another and brainstorm and come up with solutions together.

Freshers are now joining us and are doing and learning things that they would only get to do after many years in corporates.

It has been a very interesting journey so far and I am happy to see Rang De Technology grow over the past couple of years.

Sandeep is part of a 12-person team at Rang De Technology that works on various projects using MySQL, Java Spring, Javascript, Ember.js, Dropwizard, HIbernate and many other languages. We are also exploring machine learning and related concepts.

If you are interested in learning what working in tech for a social cause is like then please do check out Becoming A Software Engineer In The Nonprofit Space and do visit our Tech Careers page.