With 25 years of software industry experience, Naveen Gabrani knew a good opportunity when he saw it. Picking up on the Salesforce buzz in 2010, he jumped in with both feet to become self-taught and certified, plus started his own Salesforce consulting company in India that has 40+ apps and components on AppExchange to date. Learn more about Naveen in this trailblazing partner interview.
Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
Naveen Gabrani: The way I got involved in Salesforce started in 2010. I was working at a large consulting company as a program manager, and at that time there was a lot of buzz around Salesforce. So, I thought, “This is a good opportunity to start on my own.” I learned Salesforce on my own and started my company, Astrea IT Services, in India. We work with customers all across the globe. Most of our customers are small businesses, although we do have a few large clients.
You said you learned Salesforce – were you self-taught?
Naveen: Yes. I read lots of documentation, used the workbooks that were available at the time, got a free developer account and learned it on my own. Then, I got certified. I got a developer certification early on because, if you want to create a consulting organization, the first question people ask is, “Are you certified?” So, it was important for me in the early stages to get certified.
What was the biggest challenge of starting your own company?
Naveen: When I first started down this path in 2010, Salesforce was not well-known in technology among practitioners—even with the buzz that I mentioned earlier. So, I hired people from college and they asked, “Why are we not doing Java development? Why are you betting on Salesforce as a technology? Do I have a career?” I had to work to convince them that they had a secure career in Salesforce. Some of these people are now quite experienced and doing wonderful things all across the globe.
How is starting and running your own company fulfilling your career passions?
Naveen: I have a lot of fun since I’m a problem solver at heart. Whatever challenges you face, you have things in your control and you can try to solve them. When you’re running your own company, you don’t have anyone to blame. Your role is to fix problems, rather than to complain about problems, and I like that.
What are some ways that your partnership with Salesforce has helped both you as an individual and your company grow?
Naveen: Quite a few things! It’s an ecosystem that boosts you. For example, let’s talk about AppExchange. So, AppExchange is such a wonderful platform. We build a lot of small apps, and once they’re on AppExchange, customers all across the globe and across all different industries are able to use them. It’s a win-win situation. Also, I’ve been attending Dreamforce for the last seven years, and I’ve been a speaker at Dreamforce four or five times.
How are you using your skills and knowledge to change the world?
Naveen: Astrea IT Services was the first Salesforce.org partner in India when the program launched a few years back. We have a focus on supporting nonprofits, including special discounted rates. I also mentor at a couple of colleges and schools as well as helped set up community groups in the universities in the local and nearby area.
What does being a Trailblazer mean to you?
Naveen: Trailblazer means many different things. It means taking care of your clients, and being there for the client when they need you. It also means giving back. It’s a mixture of personal excellence and giving back. That’s what I would say is a Trailblazer to me.
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