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[Techie Tuesdays] How motherly instinct of Monica Rastogi led her to become an Android expert

Aditya Bhushan Dwivedi
3rd Feb 2015
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Monica Rastogi is the Co-founder of Tapcibo, a food delivery startup which makes sure you don't have to tap more than three times to order your food. Monica takes care of technology at Tapcibo. Born and brought up in Delhi, where her father was teaching in Cambridge school, she got her first exposure to computers in high school. While everyone was taking up options like theatre, Monica chose computers and has been programming ever since.

Though she loved biology, she admits that she was not keen on becoming a doctor. At that point of time the prospect of building bridges and working on machine floor was enough to discourage her from pursuing engineering. Moreover, Computer Science engineering was not as popular back then as it is today. She got a degree in BSc Computer Science from Delhi University, and even got a bronze medal. Post her graduation, she went for her MCA and scored a silver medal there too.

Monica Rastogi, Cofounder - TapCibo
Monica Rastogi, Cofounder - TapCibo

Monica got placed with a company known as DCM Tech and underwent training, but they withdrew the offer following the 2001 dot com bust. She got in touch with an HR person from HCL who asked her to come for an interview. She got selected and was offered a job. At HCL, Monica worked on numerous projects. The first one had TOSHIBA as the client. She was part of the team which was working on building defect tracking and change tracking tools in ASP.

After the TOSHIBA project, another project came her way. Sapphire was a project management tool built by HCL; it was while working on this project that she met her future husband Alok Goel, who was the project lead. Her core contribution was building the change tracking and scheduling module. Monica and Alok got married in 2003. In 2004, Monica took a break as she was blessed with her first kid while Alok joined Adobe.

 


Related read: ‘Tap, tap, food’ with this mobile-only on-demand ‘food court’ app, TapCibo


 

As time passed, one of the significant projects Monika worked on was for a client named Cross Country Automotive services, a US-based company which built emergency response services. The software would get consumer data from multiple sources and then notify the nearest hospital in case of an accident. In 2006, Alok got into ISB and Monica also moved to Hyderabad as HCL was setting up an offshore development center for Microsoft. At the offshore development center she worked on the Bing Maps. After his stint at ISB Alok joined Google Bangalore and Monica also had to move. She quit HCL too.

While working at Google one day, Alok brought home a Google One phone. And this led to her tryst with Android. Their kid was excited to see all the apps on the phone so Monica also tried building apps for Android. In 2010, both of them moved to US. Monica joined another company in US, Enterprise Signals, which was making apps for business analytics. They had a demo in one week and Monica had to build the entire app in that time. Fortunately, she managed to finish it and the demo went as planned. They moved back to Bangalore in 2012 and Alok joined redBus while Monica continued working with Enterprise Signals from Bangalore. She worked with them till August 2014 till the startup bug bit her and she decided to start Tapcibo.

Monica says, "In US, life was well paced and healthy, but here people always struggle with food, and lifestyle is fragmented." She hired a cook, made five plates of food and sent it via Ola cabs to her husband's office. People started liking it. She used to text the menu on the previous day using WhatsApp and prepare the food based on the responses. Once, when she did not text the menu for a few days people started asking and this prompted her to start full time. She did surveys and figured out the unit economics and decided to solve it the tech way. Monica started working on the Android app. On Oct 27, the app went live. Monica made sure that the entire process does not require more than three taps and she does not want the user to get lost in tapping. The Tapcibo team consists of three founders; there are three people in the tech team and three people in the kitchen apart from a team of delivery boys.

Talking about her challenges, Monica says there was a lot of transition and moving around in her life which has ensured that she can fit into any situation now. The turbulence has made her tough. For the people who are just passing out of college, Monica has only one advice, "Do what you love and do it so well that you take it to a level where no one has gone before."

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