[YS Learn] From founding India’s search engine Guruji, to heading product development at ShareChat - Gaurav Mishra talks problem solving

In conversation with YourStory, Gaurav Mishra, SVP Product at ShareChat spoke about setting up the US office of the Indian language social networking app, and his views on products that can solve large problems.
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ShareChat, an Indian social media platform developed by Mohalla Tech Pvt Ltd. and founded by Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh and Farid Ahsan, recently announced it will be starting ShareChat Labs in San Francisco. 

Gaurav Mishra, who is overseeing the product development of ShareChat, and will be charting the growth of ShareChat Labs in SF, will also be leading the ML/AI efforts in the US. 

Prior to joining ShareChat, Gaurav was the Head of Product for Uber AI, Data, and the marketplace platforms at Uber. He also has worked for the likes of Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft in product and engineering roles. 

As an entrepreneur, Gaurav had founded Guruji, the Indian search engine platform, which was later acquired by Flipkart

Gaurav is a Computer Science and Engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from State University at Buffalo, New York. 

In a conversation with YourStory Media, Gaurav spoke about joining ShareChat Labs, problem solving, and products -  

Edited excerpts of the interaction: 

YourStory (YS): What made you choose ShareChat, what about the company and the problem it is solving attracted you the most? 

Gaurav Mishra (GM): ShareChat is building truly Indian products and is leading India’s social media landscape. While ShareChat has evolved as India's largest social media platform in Indic languages with 160 million monthly active users, its recently launched short video platform Moj has already emerged as India’s leading platform in the space with over 80 million monthly active users. 

ShareChat’s intent towards solving India focused problems and serving the native language users across the length and breadth of the nation, rekindled a connection with my long-standing professional interests and roots and excited me tremendously. 

The introduction of Moj has extended the audience base to a more matured internet population. This offers a unique blend of India and Bharat internet users, catered by two different products.

It also made me revisit my own entrepreneurial journey with Guruji.com in 2006, where we were building India’s first search engine in local languages, mining and collecting immense data in local languages. ShareChat’s mission of building its platform with a language first approach for the digital Bharat community struck a chord with me. 

With almost 15 years of experience in working intensively on AI and ML problems, ShareChat with its focus on deep learning seemed like the ideal fit for me, and I am encouraged to contribute to the growth of ShareChat.

YS: Tell us about the centre in the US, and what it aims to do? 

GM: The centre of excellence in the US is primarily focused on solving core AI/ML problems and developing camera technology of the future, which will give our community the tools to create innovative and engaging content and provide an immersive social experience on both our products - ShareChat and Moj. 

Our aim is to enhance our user experience by pruning out NSFW (Not Safe For Work) content and thoroughly understand the nuances of content available in local dialects. These are very hard AI problems that need our immediate attention and state of the art deep learning algorithms. It is our intent to recruit talent with core expertise in AI and ML from Silicon Valley to join ShareChat Labs and help us devise these solutions. 

YS: What are the core aims and purposes of ShareChat Labs, and what do you aim to achieve? 

GM: Our aim is to build products that truly serve our community. Therefore, it is imperative for us to understand the content on our platforms and also provide the best-in-class technology that is critical to the success of the social media platforms. 

We are taking a multi-pronged approach to understanding content by designing a clean content repository with the absence of NSFW and plagiarised content. 

Semantically understanding content in natural languages and connecting it with the relevant content genres across interest graphs requires cutting edge technological capabilities. Especially for it to function across 15+ Indic languages with their own complexities and scripts, which is why it poses a challenging problem. 

ShareChat is one of the few Indian companies that is building its native ad algorithm from relevance to real time bidding. To establish ad ranking and relevance, showing the right ad to the right user at the right time is also a content problem that requires expertise in AI/MLs. 

Constantly improving our feed with stronger content recommendations and personalising content for our community according to their interest across both our products, is a hard ML problem that requires us to build deep learning algorithms. 

We are also leading the next level of development for our camera tech function, by unlocking features that include building newer technologies around augmented reality experiences, creating lenses, filters, stickers, live streaming video content capabilities and other technical expertise which will equip our creator community to create highly innovative, vibrant and engaging content across ShareChat and Moj.  

We, at ShareChat, are trying to address all these challenges across our R&D centres and looking for key talents who have worked in this space for their expertise. A lot of this talent resides in the Bay area and we are looking to attract them to join us. Our intention is to recruit that talent and build those teams for a future ready approach. 

YS: Tell us about the team, and how do you further intend to build ShareChat Labs?

GM: The efforts at ShareChat Labs won't be dependent on the team size as people involved with the project will be directly working with the product and engineering team based out of our headquarters in India. It will largely remain flexible, in accordance with the product need.

It holds a strategic longterm significance for the company. With our focus revolving around AI and ML, we want to make sure that we have the right talents who fit into the organisational priorities and lead the growth and innovation for ShareChat 

The centre of excellence has been set to lead the innovation and hence, it is imperative to have industry thought leaders with deep domain knowledge in the product and data science verticals. ShareChat Labs will be pivotal in building ShareChat and Moj for the future.

We intend to drive their expertise in innovating across our different processes. The place of implementation doesn't hold much value for us, it could be in the US or India. Our aim is to onboard the right talent and domain experts in AI, ML and camera tech capabilities, that will help us chart the way forward and build the technologies of tomorrow. 

YS: What can we expect in the immediate future from ShareChat Labs, and what is the kind of investment that is going in? 

GM: We remain largely flexible as we build our team with the right talents and experts across various technology capabilities and give them a platform to engage with our core team in Bangalore, to create the technology of the future. We have no constraints and aim to work towards building the best-in-class product for our user community. 

YS: What roadmap do you see for ShareChat Labs?

GM: The roadmap for ShareChat Labs is in sync with the larger company roadmap of further building India’s leading social media platform, ShareChat and short video platform, Moj to drive technological innovation and elevate our community’s social experience. 

We aim to recruit the right talent with core expertise in AI/ ML and camera technology. And work in accordance with the team in India to drive growth and innovation for our products from the ShareChat Labs. 

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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