Interviews and Reviews

Harnessing Technology for Success: A Conversation with Khurram Akhtar, CEO of Programmers Force

Khurram Akhtar

1. Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us about your childhood backstory and how you grew up? 

My childhood was a lot different than other children’s. I started helping my father in his business when I was 11 years old. It was a transformative experience that taught me a lot of things that most people learn in professional life. It was a different yet learning thing for me. I learned how to complete your commitment, fulfil your promises, and, most important, I learned the psychology of money. I learned all this at an early age. I liked to help my father in business because it groomed me well, and that was when I decided never to work under anyone. Because I knew the person who does the job is never going to make a big empire.

2. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

You can not achieve success in your life until you find a professional mentor. I find many peoples in my life who are working in various domains, including my friends and relatives and especially my parents, who have motivated me from childhood. If they hadn’t allowed me to work with them in their business, I would not have been able to learn these life-changing things. Then I met different friends who guided me through different things, so I can not give credit to one person. I would like to dedicate my success to all my friends who educated me on how to sell, the friend who advised me in business management, and my friends and teachers who educated me abc of tech. 

3. As Pakistan’s first AI Tech company how would you illustrate your journey?

Before reaching the Programmers Force, I failed many times, first, I failed in making an IT company in 2008 when I was only 18 years old. After that, I started freelancing and worked on multiple projects, and after various failures, I started Programmers Force. It is not like it becomes a multi-billion company on the first day, but there are many failure stories behind reaching there where we stand now. In the end, failure doesn’t matter what matters is success. 

4. What inspired you to start Programmers Force and how did you come up with this name?

I and the other co-founder of Programmers Force decided in 2012 to create an IT company and registered a domain with the name developers force. But in 2016, when we were ready to register the developer force, we found out it had already been taken. Then we changed the Develpors with Programmers and named our company Programmers Force.    

5. Can you explain the technology behind your AI products & services?

In Programmers Force, we utilize multiple technologies, including PHP, Python, Javascript, and JSP, in short, we work with all the latest technologies in our office. We also use advanced services such as Cloud Azure and make products that global companies use. 

6. What is the success story behind the growth of Programmers Force as a company?

We learn from failure and are very clear with our mission, which is to make a company whose products will be used around the world. We worked day and night to achieve that, and this is the reason Programmers Froce become a successful IT company.  

7. Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? 

I believe in two things 

First, failure doesn’t matter success does ( Vinod Khosla) 

The second one is to Fail faster 

We try many things, but we always try to fail faster because we want to move on and try something new. So if you want to do something, your approach should be clear, “fail faster.” 

8. What challenges have you faced in scaling your business and how did you overcome them?

We have been facing challenges since day one at Programmers Force, and onboarding talented employees tops the list, so we started creating our talent. We hire new batches and train them by ourselves. The next challenge is to scale up our company. The one strategy that can work on one to 25 companies will not work on the 26th company. To come over this, we introduced project managers, team leads, and heads in our company who are working tirelessly and brought the Programmers Force where it is today.

9. You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

There are three characteristics: 

First, you can be a leader or a follower if you know you are a good leader, then convince your team and tell them they enjoy certain perks under your leadership and tell them don’t ask questions, if you get failed, then take responsibility. Or if someone gives you the best offer and they becomes a leader, then try to win under his leadership. So the first thing is about the Leader and Follower if you think anyone from your team is a good leader, then uplift him and become a good follower. 

The second thing is to learn and earn. It is impossible if an employee who is learning and earning well will leave your company.

Third, always keep a challenging environment in the company.  You can keep challenges in groups and teams, it will keep them motivated. It is in human nature if they don’t face challenges they will get bored.   

10. How does Programmers Force differentiate itself from other software development companies?

Most software development companies in the market these days work on freelance projects and give services to other businesses. Our people never made any significant change in the world, for instance, you might have seen Pakistanis working as taxi drivers or sweepers in foreign countries, and freelance projects are the modern way of doing that jobs. Companies that work on freelance projects sell their employees and do not pay them enough for their services. However, Programmers Force sells its products to companies around the world and invests in our people, who then become the CEOs or the entrepreneurs of our projects, and also provides them with the funding or resources to help them thrive in their ventures. 

11. How do you approach talent acquisition and retention at Programmers Force, and what qualities do you look for in new hires?

We have a challenging culture here at programmers force and hire people that are always ready to accept challenges. We are envisioned to bring positive changes in society, and that is only possible with the challenging people around us. Our employees who are brave enough to go for any challenge will ultimately become the entrepreneurs and CEOs of our own projects, and that is how it pays back to have challenging people in your own company. 

12. What do you see as the future of software development, and how is Programmers Force positioning itself to stay ahead of the curve?

The future of development seems to be entirely different, especially after Chatgpt. All the companies around the world had a vision of replacing software engineers, and now it looks like a dream coming true. But we at programmers force realized this thing 7 years ago and designed our products in a way that we stay safe and keep surviving and growing in these challenging times as well. 

13. What is the future of the tech and AI industry around the globe and in Pakistan?

The future of the Tech and AI industry is going to be completely different because AI is already doing the job of software engineers. AI industry may have a bright future due to LLM (large language model). Chatgpt was built on the principles of LLM, and now every company wants to make its AI-powered models. 

14. Can you talk about any exciting projects or initiatives that the Programmers Force is currently working on?

We have different projects under our umbrella right now, and Programmers Force is heavily investing in startups and companies. We currently have roughly 20 projects and investments in our name, and we are increasing this no at a fast pace. 

15. How do you ensure that Programmers Force stays on the cutting edge of technology, and what steps do you take to keep your team up-to-date on the latest trends and advancements?

PF keeps an eye on the latest trends and technologies from time to time and invests in its teams to learn these things, and that’s how we bring advancements and follow trends. Whenever a new technology is in the market, we immediately start a training batch, train our teams, and then measure the results of everything. 

16. How do you measure success at Programmers Force, and what metrics do you use to track progress?

Our success formula at Programmers Force is to measure inputs, we never give targets to employees or teams on an output basis because we know that when our inputs are 100% correct, our outputs will automatically start generating positive results. 

17. Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and software developers looking to start their own companies?

My advice to entrepreneurs is to fail faster. Hire fast, fire faster, and promote fastest. If you are ready to fail fast, keep trying until you find a good employee. And keep a challenging environment in your company if you want to be successful. I would like to refer you to some books that will give you life-changing lessons, “The Hard Things about Hard Things” gives entrepreneurs the tricks to handle challenging things. If you are running a startup, read “The Lean Startup,” the last book I want to refer you to is “Alchemist.” The final advice I would give you is to invest in yourself, read books, and try to spend time on self-development daily. 

18. How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can follow my LinkedIn profile or visit me on SM Khurram!

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