Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur. Every entrepreneur would swear by this statement and I'm sure Raveesh Bhalla does as well. Two years ago, Raveesh Shashank Nayak founded TwoCents, a movie reviews website. "We did some excellent work from a data and UX perspective, but sucked at user acquisition and last year shut it down," says Raveesh. During their entrepreneurial journey, they had Aakrit Vaish as an advisor. Aakrit was the MD of Flurry India before going on to startup Haptik, a messaging app for users to chat with businesses.
Thoughts on Haptik
Strangely enough, Raveesh was a bit doubtful of the product at first. His initial thoughts were, "Why wouldn't a person just send a tweet or an E-Mail?" He joined simply because of the faith he had in both the founders.
The moment I knew there was room for us in the market was when I was at a dinner, and remembered that I really needed to find the Swift code for my ICICI bank account. That's not as easy to find as the NEFT code, and I kept thinking I needed to take some time out to call customer care. Suddenly, it hit me: why don't I just use Haptik (which had just gone into private beta at the time). One message and three minutes later, I had the information I needed. At that moment, I realized that the customer care experience, which we had assumed would always suck, didn't have to. And I could contribute to changing that.
Thoughts on work culture
Haptik has a pretty remote team. Swapan is based out of San Francisco, Harish is in Chennai and Raveesh is in Noida, while the rest are based out of Mumbai. To make sure this works smoothly, the team ensures there's no red tape so all of them can get the work done quickly without waiting for any approvals. For example, Raveesh publishes updates to the Android app when he believe it's ready. "It's a highly encouraging atmosphere that we have, and there's a sense amongst everyone working here or those who come in for interviews that we're building something that's desperately needed. I mean, some of our staff comes in at 7 AM and they claim to love it!" says Raveesh.
Raveesh has been an entrepreneur and is privy to the problems that an entrepreneur faces and hiring is ofcourse one of the biggest. Talking about it, he says, "It's probably a combination of multiple things, but I personally feel clearly defining goals and tasks, and giving people the ownership of those tasks helps a lot. This ensures everyone knows who's responsible for what, and everyone can see the others contributing. Moreover, it's critical to celebrate everyone's accomplishments within the team and ensure that each individual's personal brand is growing, not just the company's or the founders'." And Raveesh gives Aakrit and Swapan the credit for the way things are run at Haptik. Raveesh is confident that every employee who'll ever work at Haptik will benefit immensely.
A startup really needs all the workers to be high on motivation and self driven. Where does Raveessh get his drive?
Over a period of time, I realized working on something as boring as customer care had actually become sexy: we're in a unique position where the core user experience is controlled by our team after the app is installed, in the form of the service our app provides. What at first seemed "just a messaging app", suddenly felt like it had the potential to be so much more if we looked at it outside the box. That's why we developed Smart Actions, our Google Search integration on Android, and more.
We are tailoring the experience to what someone needs while talking to customer support, instead of a general consumer app which is being used for something that it's not meant to.
Best moments from the time at Haptik
Raveesh shares two of them:
a) The first would be the launch, because the team had been working on the product for months and that wasn't the greatest time. "I know that we considered pivoting in minor ways, but we persevered and decided to give ourselves a real shot. We weren't prepared for the number of users we saw that day, so much so that even I was handling some of the chats. The feedback was unanimously positive, which only made it so much better. And we've never looked back since," says Raveesh.
b) The second event happens to fall on June 12 when Soham Mondal (of BlrDroid) tweeted out to Raveesh telling him that Haptik was featured on Google Play's 'Getting Things Done' category. "Having been an Android developer for four years, this was a dream of mine coming true. I've actually got a poster of that tweet in my room," says Raveesh.
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