All tech teams work hard. Here’s how we stand out.

Harsh Gupta
Josh Talks Blog
Published in
7 min readApr 13, 2022


Recently, I was interviewing an engineering student and he asked me — “How is Josh Talks different from other startups?”. His question got me wondering. After the interview, I turned to my team and asked them —

What is it that really sets us apart from the rest?

Their answers made me realise what a remarkable team and work culture we have been able to build here.

Through this post, I want to give you peek inside our war room and what awaits you if you join the team (army as everyone calls us!) that is disrupting the way Bharat learns online. Let’s dive in.

Eagerness to learn > College Degrees

In May 2018, I joined Josh Talks straight out of college. Had no idea how teams worked, how tech products were built but I had the will to learn and Josh offered me a place where I could learn and grow. Cut to April 2022, I now lead tech and product + a team of over 40 members.

What I’ve experienced is that in order to excel at Josh, you don’t necessarily need to have a pedigree. People reached here not because of the colleges they studied at but because of their willingness to learn and to grow in their craft. People here are high-intent, passionate and have a strong entrepreneurial mindset which is applied to all parts of the work they do. Every time I interact with any of them, I’m reminded of the diverse ideas and skills that they bring to the table.

Probably a great litmus test for anyone who thrives at Josh Talks, is their ability to persist. We are people who do not lose hope. We sit, we learn, we persist and we make things happen. If you join the team, be ready to expect one thing — getting challenged every single day because the people here don’t like to lose.

If someone in the world will make it happen, it will be us.

‘Persistence’ is a key element of our work and to explain the kind of persistence I’m referring to, here’s a story –

The Josh Skills app has a feature called peer-to-peer (P2P) learning feature which allows users to make a call from within the app and practise English-speaking with another user. Previously, we had a stable call connection rate at 80% but suddenly in February, this rate fell down to 50% which meant only one out of every two calls was getting connected. This was a big problem. It was impacting the thousands of users who learn through our app every day. We needed to identify how the calls were getting disconnected and needed to do it fast.

So, eight of us sat down in a room to discuss the issue. We agreed not to leave the room until we had identified the problem. Over the course of the next 60 minutes, we tried the feature on over 18 phones, tested it multiple times and boom! We were there. We could finally see the issue happening and were able to reproduce it. From there on it was all about solving it.

Within the next one month, we not only reached our earlier 80% connection rate but surpassed it to reach our highest ever connection rate at over 91%.

Our call connection rate from February to March 2022

On multiple occasions, we had tested before but we never found this problem. What worked for the eight of us sitting in that room was the objective to identify and solve the problem and we persisted.

This story is a true example of how it’s like to work at Josh Talks. This instance and many others that I witness everyday remind me of the incredible people I get to work with who make me feel that if someone will revolutionise learning for Bharat, it will be us.

Speed, scale and simplicity win the long haul.

As I write this, we are reaching nearly 200,000 paying users of the Josh Skills app who are spending more than 40 minutes a day learning from it. This is all because we realised that our users can only overcome their hesitation of speaking in English by actually ‘practising speaking in English’. So, we built for it — with speed, scale and simplicity.

Our peer-to-peer (P2P) learning feature is our most loved feature because we decided to keep things simple — match a user with a unique partner and give them prompts to talk about. This feature was built and released within 10 days. We wanted to make sure that it provided a glitch-free experience to our users but there were problems, but also a way for us to find solutions –

Problem: Initially, it used to take us 9 seconds to connect a call out of which the client took 7 seconds to process real-time events from the SDK and the backend server.

Solution: We brought down the 7 seconds to 500 milliseconds which basically was the minimum time it took for the SDK to get a user into a channel.

Problem: The P2P system was able to support 200 concurrent calls but we started crossing 2000 concurrent calls during peak hours.

Solution: We rewrote the entire architecture on the client and the server site to support 2000 calls and reach a 100% call connection rate.

Now with the P2P feature, everyday we set and break records on the number of minutes spoken on the app which is currently at 23+ Million Minutes (equivalent to speaking non-stop for 43 years of your life!).

To build fast and provide the best learning experience for Bharat, we don’t shy away from leveraging third party SDKs and tools. Our current tech stack kind of looks like this –

Josh Skills Tech Stack

We own the process. And the outcome.

At Josh, no matter who you are or what your designation is, you can take complete ownership of whatever it is that you work on. We are not just a group of people who work together, we are also people who trust each other. Taking ownership of your work gives everyone else in the team the confidence to trust you and to make decisions.

Case in point — In order to have interest-based discovery happen on the app, the team recently ideated on a feature called ‘groups’. The ‘groups’ idea by itself isn’t too difficult to execute but building something and making sure that it works are two completely different things. From the start, the pod of three people (out of which two are still in college) owned the entire product and decided what the MVP would be. They take complete ownership and continue to decide how this feature will function, what numbers matter to them and what the future of the product will be.

Making online education ‘social’ for Bharat.

Everyone who talks about online education wants to teach people either through videos or through cohort-based courses. Now, these are inherently expensive because in order to ensure quality of learning, you can not have classes with an infinite number of people.

On the other hand, in offline education people get to interact and spend time with each other — they observe each other’s actions and behaviours which fosters a wide range of learning experiences and ensures attention on learning and retention for learning. This is the desire to be social and education is SOCIAL.

At Josh Talks, we are creating an ecosystem that makes SOCIAL happen for Bharat ONLINE.

Therefore, the cost of service should be the one that everyone can afford.

We have come to realise that building for Bharat and for the devices they use (android) isn’t as straightforward as it seems because each OEM comes with its own set of issues and in order to make social-learning work for all android devices, these will be the few challenges for us to focus on in the next few months:

  • Building in-house systems of WebRTC
  • Facilitating real time communication through persistent client to client connections
  • Delivering 100% notifications on android devices
  • Solving for automated feedback for voice-based user input

I believe that when you’re on your way to change something, challenges become stepping stones to achieving the bigger goal. And for us, the big goal or the North Star is to build products that revolutionise learning in Bharat. We persist, we work even harder and we ultimately come out more focused and excited to solve the next set of challenges! 🙌

If you too are excited to solve for such challenges at scale, join our team by checking out the openings here or write to me directly at



Harsh Gupta
Josh Talks Blog

Leading Tech & Product @JoshTalks. Connect with me here: