1. Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.
I finished my Bachelors in Computer Science and Communication. Towards the end of my Senior year in college, I got selected by the College of Optics and Photonics (at University of Central Florida), which was ranked 2nd in Optics research, to intern as a research scholar. I was Involved in a project of developing 4D patient specific lung models to improve radiotherapy. I Joined Samsung Electronics as an application developer for a couple years after college. I used to Work part time for Mytokri during these years, but my heart was always set on working for Mytokri. I really believed in the cause, and I felt like Mytokri was bridging the gap that no one Knew even existed. So I quit Samsung Electronics, and have been working full time for almost 2 Years.
I graduated from Amity University with a Masters in Computer Applications and founded Mytokri in my graduate year. I have been full time, making Mytokri, from a simple shopping Website with just around 1000 users to a revolutionary e-commerce platform with tie-ups with all top e-commerce merchants in India, and revenue grossing 1.3 crore Rupees. Me and Akash have been neighbors and childhood friends and helped kick start this business to Where it stands now.
2. When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
It was my dad’s friend’s son’s birthday. He wanted me to buy a present for him. I was frustrated Because I didn’t know his son, and I would have to make the purchase- the money would go out of my monthly allowance. I went to numerous gift stores, but I couldn’t find the right gift for the Cheapest possible, without looking like a miser.
A friend of mine, Akash (Mytokri co-founder) recommended trying shopping online- this was a very daunting task for me, because I almost always never shop online. But with desperation, and a little pushing from Akash, I decided to give online shopping a try. Immediately I realized that there were so many options, so many sites, and so many ways to personalize and customize Your products. I wasn’t sure what to buy, whether or not a merchant was trustable. When Discussing this with Akash, we both felt that there should be a way to bring all these ideas Together. And sitting there, surfing for a cheap gift to buy for someone I didn’t know, MyTokri’s Idea was born.
Me, and Akash decided that we wanted to create a combined portal, with all e-commerce merchants like Flipkart offers, Snapdeal, and Myntra for users to share deals, and coupons, and even interact and communicate with one another offering tips, advice and questions. And with that in mind, Mytokri gained momentum.
3. What were the early days at MyTokri like?
The early days at MyTokri were slightly different. We were still getting used to how to run a business. We were still trying to wrap our minds around how we have changed the online shopping world. We started off doing everything by ourselves, but as we got more revenue, we started hiring a couple employees to help cope with our success and demand.
Nonetheless, it was pretty tiring. We used to end our work week with a discussion on what we all accomplished during the week, discuss the goals for the next week, and treat ourselves and our beloved team with late night pizza parties, bonfires and music. We had so many users come to us and tell us how much they loved our website, and how much it helped them- financially, and convenience-wise. We knew when our own users were complimenting us daily and the page views were sky rocketing, that we were doing the right thing. We have come so far from those struggling days, and every once in a while, when we feel discouraged, we remember the amount of effort, hard work, and late nights we put in, to make our dream come true.
4. Can you please describe what a typical day at office is like?
We start our day at around 10 in the morning. We have an early morning meeting to discuss the plans for the day for our team and work till lunch time. We all like to eat lunch together, as we are like a close-knit family. We encourage talking, participation and interaction amongst each other and believe that no product gets to where they are, unless there is a sense of belonging. We adhere to this as much as we can. After lunch, we get back to work. Late afternoon, around 5, we take our tea-break, and goof off for some time. After returning, we wrap up whatever we were working on, and discuss with the team, what work has been accomplished and leave for home. Of course on some days, when there are migrations, meetings with our tie-ups, and other events, our schedule gets a bit tossed, but this is our usual, typical day. Very casual. Very warm.
5. Can you tell us about the technology stack used at MyTokri?
We are using laravel 5.2 framework on PHP 7 with Mariadb for backend. Additionally, we are using Me cache Server help us in managing sessions, and Redis server for the in-memory database. For the client-side development, we use the frameworks of Bootstrap 3.3.5 and Jquery 2.1.4.
6. Is there any technology that you’re personally betting on to help you scale up?
In order to develop new features for our website and mobile application, we are betting on Aerospike and AngularJS. We are relying on the versatility and flexibility of these 2 to help scale our business and take it to the next level.
7. How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company?
If anything, our company is only about Business Intelligence and Analytics. After all, we obtain data from numerous sources, social media, online e-commerce merchants, and only after analyzing the latest market trends do we make the right decision for our customers and provide them with the best products to choose from. Most of the business decisions are completely data driven. Using our algorithms and design, we make everything in our company about the customers and their demands.
8. How else does technology help your company stand apart from its rivals?
The technology we use, can’t specifically make us different from our rivals, but we can with certainty say that the way in which we approach the business using the technology makes us stand apart. We use the best technology in the industry, run constant DRs, and perform Q/A and UA testing as often as we can. Also, we are trying to build and formulate the best algorithms to serve client requests in minimum time. As this is a continuous process, we have drills and numerous meetings to make sure that this process is as smooth as can be.
9. What has been the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced while running MyTokri?
A. We found the integration of Google Page Speed with our existing system to be very difficult. There were overlaps, and numerous technical difficulties. B. Also, trying to implement a live search to produce the most applicable and pertinent mapping of a user to a product was very difficult. But now, that is the exact thing that we are excelling at. From this, it is easy to infer we have come a long way.
10. What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?
We look for our technology employees to be very hands-on and all-rounded. It is completely okay, that they are not used to a specific technology we use. But we want them to be quick to learn, and adaptive to change. Since we work on user-requirements, our technology framework is agile. It may change at anytime, based on user demand. Our prospective technology employee needs to understand our business and learn the importance of what we do. If they are passionate, their willingness to learn will surely shine through. It is that light we are looking for. We also want our future tech-savvy employees to speak up when they feel something is incorrect, and suggest possible, constructive changes and improvements.
11. How do you keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world?
As a user building easy to use website for customers, each project brings new challenges; this is what makes our work so appealing! However, one of the hardest things I believe is keeping up to date on the latest happenings with the many technologies we are asked to implement on a moment's notice. It’s pretty common at MyTokri that we might be working on a Java project for months or weeks, and then be asked to jump onto a .NET or with little to no downtime in between.
Now most of us have perfected the art of “ramping up”, and I believe our ability to get up to speed quickly on a technology is directly related to how well we know the state of the market and keeping up on the latest trends. Besides the normal, online portals, and social media, we have a few activities every month that ensure that even those not in the technology field in our company are aware of the latest technology happenings. We hold Training and mini-workshops for all our employees to participate in to learn about the recent technology. If during these discussions, we feel that using a specific technology would aid our customers and/or business model, we try implementing it. We have conferences with our client merchants in which we discuss this application and predict its potential for our business. As mentioned earlier, we are a very hands-on community. For us, everything is about our customer and making their user experience even better. If we can do anything to improve that, we do.
12. What gets you excited about coming to work every day?
Akash Bhargava: The simple fact that for me, it is not work. I don’t think that going to our office, isworking. We discuss, we argue, we work together, and then we conclude. It’s like a new journey ever day. And I love that.
Saurabh Gupta: The team we have is so inspiring. I have been with MyTokri from the start, and I have gone from having no one on my team to almost 25 members working with me. They inspire me every day to work harder, and serve more people. They encourage me to come up with new ideas, and care for our customers. And the most important thing- they remind me that it was because of our hard work, that we are changing everyone’s lives. No feeling is more gratifying than that.
13.What sets MyTokri engineering culture apart?
Every business uses technology to increase their sales. Then, those businesses come up with a strategy to grab the attention of the customers and convince them that their product is helping them solve a problem. Our engineering culture is completely different. We don’t use technology, and then acquire customers. We acquire customers and then use technology. In other words, we read up about the recent trends in the market. We analyze user ratings and comments. We read up about current developments of products. We procure all the prices from different e-commerce merchants and then post only user-specific and customized deals. Our whole engineering culture is completely opposite. We truly believe in making our customers benefit from our product. We then, focus on the money we make out of it. That’s what makes us different.
14.Which Mytokri value resonates best with you?
The Feeling of helping each other as what is our community base, also that many people will save more bucks using MyTokri Coupons which are valued for me the best value as what I consider is that happiness you can make around people nothing is much valuable than that.The feeling of making our users’ life more simple is what I feel resonates with me. Our website and recently-launched mobile application, helps our customers buy the products they want without having to extensively search and then give up due to exhaustion. We bring ease and convenience to our users which ultimately allow them to lead better lives. In their happiness, lies our happiness.
15.Any piece of advice for techies out there?
“Instead of searching for something you love, find it by seeking a solution to a problem that already exists. If you can do that, you will automatically find the passion to make a difference in the world. And that passion to fix a problem, will take you on journeys you never thought possible. What you love, shouldn’t be sought ater. It is residual and stays with you the whole time. Discover that, and a whole new realm of opportunities will open for you.”
– Akash Bhargava