Build a good tech team to make your e-commerce business a billion-dollar one: Amitabh Misra, ex-CTO, Snapdeal
Every time we talk about building a billion-dollar business, we generally tend to think of numbers and imagine the grandiosity that comes along with it. It is not often that one foresees the technology to scale and build this billion-dollar business. When Amitabh Misra came on stage just after lunch at TechSparks in Bengaluru on Saturday, he had not expected an attentive audience. But once he got started, he left the audience wanting more.
Amitabh began by talking about his current venture, a company he is working on in the travel space, and then about Snapdeal. Snapdeal started in 2011, when Flipkart had already become a market leader, and there were more than 50 e-commerce firms in the space. Snapdeal was then in the startup phase, didn't have much funding, and its tech team was based out of Delhi. In three years, the platform became capable of handling over 2,00,000 sellers and clocks sales of tens of thousands of orders per minute.
Amitabh spoke about how they had expected spillover of orders from Flipkart's Big Billion Day sale last year . Amitabh was informed only four days in advance and it seemed an impossible task to build systems to meet the expected volumes. But they did manage to achieve this – scaled it in four days so that the site didn’t lose a single order or have one cancelled.
So how did they do it? Amitabh outlined three things a tech team needs to be able to build similar robust platforms in a short time:
1) There should be perfect alignment between business and technology. Tech people often find it difficult to explain priorities to business people and vice versa.
"A lot of good technology is made but nobody uses it. We need to have the right balance and have great tech. We took a lot of risk with ours . We had a marketplace release and it was a big change…We took the risk and it all fell apart. We let the site down for the whole day. We went through production hour by hour and people said we had messed up. When confronted with this, I said, 'I will do this again and keep the sites down if required.' The tech team should be able to explain the implications of its actions," Amitabh reiterated.
2) Sometimes, not having processes helps. “We were a growing team and had no processes. Every company's context is specific and everything was quick and informal. Yet we were able to achieve speed. We were doing up to 10 releases in good days in live environments without downtime. All this was possible because we didn't have processes,” he explained.
3) It all starts with good hiring. “If you don’t get your team right, it’s not going to work. I built a great tech team which reported directly to me. Never make compromises on building a great team,” Amitabh added.
A big shoutout to TechSparks 2015 sponsors – Sequoia Capital, ICICI Bank, Money on Mobile, Microsoft, Signal Hill, IBM Bluemix, PwC, Atom Tech, Teamchat, Govt. of Karnataka, Intel, Rabbler, Dailyhunt, Reverie, Loginext and PayUBiz; Partners – Duff&Phelps, Taxmantra, Dineout, Exotel, 360ride, Yoga Bar, Chai Point, GWC; and our Media Partners – TV9, Fortune India, RedFM and Deccan Herald.
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