[TechSparks 2020] Day 4 highlights: NPCI's Dilip Asbe, CB Insights' Anand Sanwal, Google's Caesar Sengupta, and more
Day 4 at TechSparks 2020 began with a free-wheeling conversation between Kamlesh D Patel, known as Daaji among his followers, and Pragya Mishra, Communication Manager, WhatsApp, and Heartfulness Trainer.
This was followed by a virtual fireside chat with Google's Caesar Sengupta, who leads the tech giant's efforts in engaging the Next Billion Users, walking us through how the new generation of internet users are shaping the digital narrative of India.
“There are huge differences in these new users from what we’d seen in traditional models from the West,” said Caesar, “Yet their aspirations and wants were the same as anyone else in the world. They want it more visually. They want more relationships. They want more video. They want more in their vernacular. They want a hybrid language," he said - some important signals for online platforms creators today.
Then came the man who loves all. CB Insights' Anand Sanwal talked about how having less forced him to be creative, why work culture is more than just posters on the wall, why it's important to love messy data and the importance of having ‘rituals’ to keep employees motivated and united, even when there are ever-increasing distances between us all.
He said, "I think it gets harder to keep everybody connected to the organisation a little bit (in the work-from-home format). And so we have to find new ways to keep the team not only informed, but also connected. I think the bigger thing is — and this has probably been accelerated a bit by COVID-19 — just how do we create rituals and processes? How do we get people from different parts of the organisation to get to know each other or celebrate their accomplishments?"
Our conversation with Anand also spanned from how he pinned down his customer base and defined his product-market fit, to lessons he learned as a business leader during the pandemic, and what his hopes and dreams for CB Insights are.
Then, in a fireside chat, Apple AI/ML engineer Aaksha Meghawat explained how young techies can stay ahead of the curve with newer technologies.
Sharing key learnings from her journey, she stressed upon the importance of online courses and advised aspiring techies to always look out for what they are offering. “It is very actionable, as it gives you the direction of what's going to be relevant four years or five years down the line,” she said.
WhatsApp India's Head Abhijit Bose then spoke about scaling small businesses and driving financial inclusion in the country, and announced that the messaging app is doing "controlled pilots" for a bunch of new services — including enabling businesses to complete a transaction with a single click.
The tech firm shared that over 15 million businesses in India already use WhatsApp Business to "connect with their customers", and added that the firm is looking to scale that up further across key segments, including fintech and financial services, health and government initiatives, education and learning, and of course, mobile commerce.
Abhijit also announced that WhatsApp is conducting pilots to scale up micro pensions, health insurance, and rural banking across underserved locations in India, in partnership with banks, financial services, and health insurance providers, who are building their own solutions using WhatsApp API.
Spokespersons from international giants such as Apple, Walmart Global Tech India, Qualcomm Ventures, and Google Cloud India graced various 'stages' today. Overall, day four gave one a really well-rounded understanding of trends across various sectors, as well as threw some light on the outlook of India's economy.
Varsha Tagare, Managing Director of Qualcomm Ventures, said that technology companies will have to transform networks for 5G implementation, and Qualcomm is bullish towards investing in such players.
Then, Tanuj Shori, CEO of Square Yards — one of India's largest integrated real-estate companies — said that demand for residential real estate was starting to pick up slowly, after being gutted over the last six months due to the pandemic. Work-from-home formats were still threatening commercial real-estate companies though, he added.
Actor Suniel Shetty, who has invested in several health, wellness, and fitness startups, including Fittr, brought in his own sparkle to TechSparks 2020, discussing the impact of COVID-19 on fitness startups, the importance of focusing on the why and how, and the fact that online is here to stay, in a freewheeling, passionate conversation with Fittr Founder Jitendra Chouksey.
"We are all not in the same boat, but we’re all in the same storm," the actor-entrepreneur said.
Of course, we have another stellar lineup for you tomorrow. We'll meet some 30+ superstars-in-their-own-right who've been shortlisted for our Tech30 award. Tune-in for some of that infectious zest.
Day 5 will begin with Gaurav Gandhi, Director & Country General Manager, Amazon Prime Video, India, followed by Ola Cabs' Bhavish Aggarwal.
There's also a very special fireside guest tomorrow — John Chambers, Chairman Emeritus, Cisco, and CEO of JC2 Ventures, who will share his invaluable leadership insights.
India's most beloved businessman Ratan Tata will close out the day for us — and his words are not only sagacious, but also inspiring. A nice way to cap off the week, we think!
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta