Ram Shriram (Shaerpalo Ventures profile) was in Bangalore for a day. He packed in 2 events at /7’s new campus on Outer Ring Road. At the first event title In Conversation with Ram Shriram – Managing Partner, Sherpalo Ventures organised by iSpirt, he answered queries from scores of entrepreneurs. He wants more higher education institutions to come up, as it is tougher to get into IIT’s than Stanford. He cautioned against copy-cat mentality and app being the core of business, rather than actual revenue-based offering. You may get more details on Techinasia post – When the big daddy of startup investing Ram Shriram talks, you just listen!.I was in the next event – Coffee with Ram Shriram. It was a more intimate setting. First, we were subjected to the mandatory and brief introduction about the company, its value proposition and strengths from a business guy named Brooks (who joined them post their Microsoft Tellme acquisition) and another head of technology. They talked about how /7’s omni-channel approach for retails, backed by big data and prediction to provide a personalised and intuitive experience to the customers. We got a great demo of personalised experience based on web activity and intent. It showed how call center agents will be replaced by voice agents, leading the a lot of self-service by customers. They are coming up with exciting products in partnership with Facebook and Microsoft. If you want to know more about their work with Facebook Messenger, tune in to Facebook Messenger – The Most Disruptive Customer Support Channel Ever? on Dec 3. AS of Dec 23, you can hail Uber using Facebook Messenger in US. Nags, co-founder of /7 introduced Ram. Ram’s monologue was brief, where he touched upon technology evolution and future opportunities. This was followed by an interesting Q&A round. Responding to an audience question about he cherry-picks his angel investments like he did with Google he said – When he put in money, it was just 2 guys with a dream. He made sure that the dream was not short-lived looking at perseverance and talent of founders in addition to the market and incumbents. he used the same criteria, when he invested in /7. He provided clarity on /7’s strategy and projections. /7’s web, chat and voice offerings are disrupting the BPO business of incumbents, like Convergys as well as pure-product offerings, like Genesys, Oracle CRM etc. He also mentioned that they are starting to integrate with COTS (Commercial Off-the shelf) solutions like Dynamics CRM, etc soon for customers like Capital One. Varadh from /7 then shared a thing or 2 about company culture, how they are applying the principles of delightful customer experience to an employee-friendly policies. He stopped short of asking us to check out the careers page of /7’s Innovation Labs (direct link on Jobvite). We then continued the Q&A to the terrace with a great view of 10th floor.
Simplilearn‘s session on skilling the IT workforce was held on 2 Feb in Bangalore in association with Economic Times. There were L&D leaders, HR practitioners, and company executives in the audience. It started with Alok Goyal, who until recently was senior partner at Helion, a VC firm, making an opening note. He painted a good picture of the future of skills required for IT referring to it modestly as defining the problem rather than solving the problem. Driverless cars are coming sooner than we expected; old human jobs replaced by machines are happening at a quicker pace. There is a farm in Japan completely run by robots, which produces quintillions of produce. Intuitive Surgical has robots doing surgery. Re-skilling is not an option.
Takeaways: General-purpose robots like Baxter can learn by watching humans. Briggo has no humans, delivering personalized coffee at any chain. Just like we no longer need as many horses up until 1950’s, we will not as many humans soon!
A panel discussion around how organizations can work towards building talent pools to meet the challenges brought by the changing wave of technology trends was moderated by Vinod Mahanta, Sr. Editor, ET. Nishant Rao (Global COO, Freshdesk, ex-MD Linkedin India) weighed in with his layered approach, first three of which are visible parts and the last one is hidden:
- Classical learning : Lecture driven either in-class or elearning over web/mobile
- Experiential : By doing things, role-playing in a contrived environment or in real-world
- Environment : Manager, mentor, buddy program
- Ego : Self-driven learning.
Ashutosh Vaidya, Chief Delivery & Operations Officer at Dell Services took a business approach boasting 4-times revenue generated per employee compared with other IT services organizations. He emphasized customer-driven approach to training. While Nishant opined unstructured training to spur creativity, ambiguity (which has made Freshdesk get 70k customers, 1/2B revenue with the efforts of 600 employees, Hariraj Vijayakumar, Global Head, Learning and Development, Cognizant opined methods with neuroscience underpinnings. Adults learn better, when the training is better; though they feel that they learned more, when taught consecutively, something referred to as massing effect. It’s an evolution for training materials too. CTS took 2 years to get it right. They started with just splitting the original material in contrived chunks. Slowly, the material evolved to be more effective. I have felt that I can connect things better and retain more, when learning over a period of time. The panel then discussed about lateral hiring vs training own personnel. It’s a delicate balance to tread. Alok was of the view that we should get outside professionals at all levels, whereas the standard practice is several organizations, notably large services companies has been to get a large number of freshers (Unrelated to this concept, Hari mentioned that 20k freshers get inducted into CTS every month). Next we (yes, it was an interactive, small group) discussed about failure. Nishant having spent 20 years in the US talked about a societal change needed in India, where excellence is revered, but failure scorned at. There is a need to take constructive feedback sportingly in the company culture. During first 3 months at Mckinsey, Alok got so much feedback about his dress, presence etc, that he thought everything is wrong with himself! There needs to be an emphasis on learning agility among individuals. In the end, Simplilearn’s CEO Krishna Kumar summarized the panel discussion.
I am on a week long vacation in Kuala Lumpur, but after getting to know about Growth Hacking Malaysia event on 2 Dec, I took a break from sight seeing to see startups in action.
I was in Kampung Baru doing jalan-jalan (stroll) of this modern village. I took LRT to Universiti and tried to book a app-hail a taxi using EasyTaxi with no success. Tried it with regular MyTeksi, failed; but finally succeeded with Executive Class on MyTeksi. The app is sleek showing me minute-by-minute, as the driver approaches me. An hour later, I’d meet the Managing Director of rival taxi service!
The organizer, Anna Rehermann introduced Easytaxi Regional Managing Director, Joon Chan. He started interactively by asking us what Growth Hacking meant. He elaborated them with examples. Growth hacking means getting users through various Channels – Adwords, poster, Facebook etc. You need to measure efficacy of them by say, Market research – call n ask user of the week. Depending on ROI from them, you put marketing money.
EasyTaxi began its Malaysia operations in May, 2013. In the beginning, you ask your friends. He took 20 friends to TGIF, got them to install the app and try it out.
Important point here is to go on till you exhaust channel. Pick all the cherries.
Easytaxi got sales done through its rival’s drivers! It’s true. MyTeksi did 10 times more transactions per day than EasyTaxi. So, he invited 1000’s of MyTeksi drivers for a nice buffet dinner and handed 4000 handouts to each with unique code to measure referral. The drivers handed them to their passengers after the trip. Discount and commission was his cost for this campaign, but gave a large no of new clients. They continued this till MyTeksi modified their driver agreement.
Another nice campaign was using 4k Hellokitty toys. 40 drivers everyday would hand it to those who ask it using hashtag #easykitty. First day, they had 500 requests, next day it was 4k, and after this it skyrocketed to 16k. As soon as an office girl put it on desk. it went viral. They got 18k users with 16k investment. They conquered building after building. An example: Just HP Tower emptied a quarter of its supplies.
It’s important to do campaign again. Make this a Weekly process. They experimented with Power user program, as other channels like FB became costlier. EasyTaxi has a Data science team for voucher. While they use EDM (Electronic Digital Marketing) channels, they tried novel ideas. Instead of using mailchimp, he used his personal email, WhatsApp with Malay, Chinese, Indian girl persona. In Vietnam, app and mobile internet doesn’t work, as people mostly call. Do, he used Predictive dialing effectively. EasyTaxi continues to execute underdog strategy. Keep in touch with the company on Facebook page, EasyTaxiMy and @myEasyTaxi.
After this, we had 3 startup presentations, who got nuggets of advice from the expert panel comprising: Warren Tan (CEO, VLT) @warrentan, Andrew Tan (Director, VLT) Linkedin profile, Zafrul Noordin (Founder @ Code Ar.my) Linkedin profile, Daniel Cerventus (Founder @ NextUpAsia) Linkedin profile, @cerventus. The first one was Hijab2Go.
Tangi Vern, Linkedin profile presented his 2 week old startup’s journey. They have competition like fashionmalay. They have followed the following path:
But, Activation has been poor. While they are able to get a lot of users. He wanted help on that. The experts suggested to put stall at Putrajaya targeting Malay auntie in Govt agency, who have a lot of time!
Put photo booth in campus and get conversation going. They asked him to figure out if it was just a marketplace or a brand as well. Also, do growth hacking with social media influencers like Miss Nina (??). [Note: If any of you discerning reader could enlighten me with these, please drop a comment of email me. Being really new in KL and in Malaysia, I am not aware of these.]
The second pitch was for a tutor software and marketplace by Sam Xiaong. He did not use a deck and enthusiastically explained his idea. Tutors incl music tutor and students find it hard to keep track of lesson missed, dues left. So, FindMytutor.com.my will provide a tool for the same. He is also looking for Copywriter, social media intern, designer, developer, so reach out to him.
The third pitch was Metofu – food for those who want to lose weight. He explained how he gets food from caterers and does lunch delivery. In the beginning, he was doing weekly, but the cost was high for customer, so he pivoted. His pitch was found ot be confusing by the experts. They asked him to develop nutrition food content in Malay. Have Facebook group of trainers.
At the end of 3 hours, we were wiser and most are looking forward to next month’s meeting.
ELK stands for ElasticSearch, Logstash and Kibana. I had become acquainted with this during MongoDB Day – Bangalore on 19 May 2014 by Susheel Zaveri’s excellent talk. So, I was overjoyed, when the Elasticsearch Meetup Bangalore’s First Meetup coincided with my trip on 27 Sep 2014. Elasticsearch has got an open, RESTful API that makes it easy to build applications on top of it. It can process both structured and unstructured data, so you can derive insights from log files to Tweets to plain old CSV files, all in near real-time. Best of all, you can ingest data from all these disparate sources easily into Logstash, then search and analyze across all of these types of data with Elasticsearch, visualizing the results using Kibana. This stack makes these insights available to anyone in an organization through Kibana’s dashboards, which are share-able and don’t require programming know-how to use effectively.
These features – plus many more – make the ELK stack so flexible that it meets the big data challenges of a wide variety of verticals. A major financial company uses the ELK stack to do anomaly detection and root out credit card fraud. Another one performs analytics and sentiment analysis across social media data. Yet another one detects hacking on their networks, and yet another for full-text search across e-commerce sites with billions of entries.
The meetup was held at SpringPeople Software Pvt Ltd, Sector 7, HSR Layout, Bengaluru, Karnataka. It had 2 speakers: Suyog Rao, Vedang Manerikar. It was free of cost, but required registration in a Google Form. Suyog Rao (@suyograo) started with an introduction to ELK. He started describing ElasticSearch as a schema-free, REST and JSON document store. The salient points of his talk were:
- The popularity of ElasticSearch can be gauged from the total number of downloads, which stands at 10M in last 2 years.
- An Elastic Search cluster can contain multiple Indices(databases), which in turn contain multiple Types(tables). These types hold multiple Documents (rows), and each document has Properties(columns). [Terms in bracket are relational counterpart]
- It uses replication for high availability and performance. For horizontal scalability, it uses sharding.
- It supports:
- Unstructured as well as Faceted, structured search
- Enrichment and sorting
- Pagination and Aggregation
He covered Logstash and Kibana next.
- Logstash is a ruby app, which runs on JVM.
- It allows one to collect, parse, enrich and store logs and events.
- Kibana allows one to have beautiful visualization on top of Elasticsearch index with zero code.
- The new version makes use D3 library.
He showed a quick demo. Actually covered a lot of stuff in short time.
Vedang Manerikar (@vedang) works with Helpshift, a mobile CRM company based out of Pune and San Francisco. [It’s a company, which has unique hiring practices. Refer my earlier blogpost on Building Silicon Valley culture in India]
The customer-facing side of Helpshift product is a simple chat feature within the app using the Helpshift mobile SDK. The business-facing side is a complex agent dashboard that helps the agent in processing as many issues as quickly as possible. This business-facing side is built on top of Elasticsearch. He shared the following nuggets of wisdom with us:
- Elasticsearch does not have a book on it, although it will soon be solved. There are good references and videos, but nothing structured like a book yet.
- Don’t use Elasticsearch as a primary database. The data should first go into mysql, MongoDB or other transactional datastore.
- Though ES allows one to have a mixed mode node with both meta data and data, it is best to separate master and data nodes.
- For multi-tenant index like Helpshift’s usecase, an index per customer is not a good idea, but something based on the index size.
- He said helpful steps about bulk loading like controlling replica count etc, but I did not catch it fully.
- Rolling upgrade of ES is fraught with risks, so it is better to spin up new cluster and decommission old one. [This was contested by Suyog and Drew]
- Benchmarking is hugely important and should be done at staging and development phase to prevent aches during production. He mentioned about a tool called Tsung, which helped them benchmark percolators. Percolators allowed live notifications of new issues.
- During runtime, a lot of debugging can be done using cat API’s, so make use of them.
- Tune JVM parameters, like allocate more memory for young generation.
- ES uses Lucene under the hood, so some troubleshooting might require understanding its working as well
- RTFM – Basically read manual carefully. Pay special attention to the unit, whether a particular number refers to ms or seconds.
- Advanced ES users make use of filters to make complex views.
- There were many others, but I guess we have to wait for the presentation to arrive.
Mongo Dilli (meetup url) held its meetup at Jabong on Aug 22, 2014. We started around 6:15 after initial introduction of participants. At least a quarter of them were using MongoDB in production, while few had just started looking at it. About half of them had not tried MongoDB yet, but were extremely interested in it.
The first talk was by the hosts at Jabong, Supreet Sethi and Apoorva Moghey. They had audaciously run MongoDB on Raspberry Pi running ARM processor. Since MongoDB runs on small Endian machines till MongoDB Inc fixes SERVER-1625, they had to use download a fork (github url) of MongoDB and compile it.
After this, I started with my talk on Product Catalog: Retail Reference Architecture with MongoDB. After all, I was at Jabong, India’s leading e-tailer! On a serious note, the schema design in MongoDB due to its document structure is different compared with relational ER modeling, so I chose a sample domain to illustrate general points. I did spend quite few minutes on answering general and introductory questions on MongoDB, nosql; because 50% of audience was new to MongoDB and a few entirely fresh to nosql.
After this Anuvrat Prashar from product review portal, Zopper presented his journey of Python and MongoDB. It was really a pleasure to listen to the nerdy talk. Interestingly, he had ssh’ed to his box from his colleague’s over the internet, as his machine did not have a connector to the projector. His presentation was HTML5 and transitions were taking time after action, but things worked fine. We learnt a big deal about Python MongoDB driver and a few wrappers on it. The crawling produces semi-structured data, which is easily digestible by MongoDB. It would be a nightmare to do the same on a relational database.
The most important part was the drawing of raffles to announce 3 winners. The prizes were sponsored by Jabong. We had nice snacks and a great time networking with enthusiasts and users of MongoDB afterwards.
Check out MongoDB World videos and presentations. Feel free to check out the keynote sessions, as well as most popular customer and internal sessions at MongoDB World.
Watch Most Popular Sessions
- Mythbusting: Understanding How We Measure the Performance of MongoDB – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mythbusting-understanding-how-we-measure-performance-mongodb
- Retail Reference Architecture: Flexible, Searchable, Low-Latency ProductCatalog – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/retail-reference-architecture-flexible-searchable-low-latency-product-catalog
- Replication Internals: The Life of a Write – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/replication-internals-life-write-0
Hear from Customers at MongoDB World
- An Agile Supply Chain at The Gap – http://www.mongodb.com/presentations/agile-supply-chain-gap
- Big Dating at eHarmony – http://www.mongodb.com/presentations/big-dating-eharmony
- A Translational Medicine Platform at Sanofi – http://www.mongodb.com/presentations/translational-medicine-platform-sanofi
- Using NoSQL and Enterprise Shared Services (ESS) to Achieve a More Efficient and Agile IT Environment at the VA – http://www.mongodb.com/presentations/using-nosql-and-enterprise-shared-services-ess-achieve-more-efficient-and-agile-it
Watch the Keynote Videos:
- Eliot Horowitz, CTO, MongoDB – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mongodb-world-2014-keynote-eliot-horowitz
- Max Schireson, CEO, MongoDB – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mongodb-world-2014-keynote-max-schireson
- Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mongodb-world-2014-keynote-werner-vogels
- MongoDB Roadmap, Eliot Horowitz, CTO, MongoDB – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mongodb-world-2014-roadmap-eliot-horowitz
- Charity Majors, Production Engineer, Facebook – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mongodb-world-2014-keynote-charity-majors
- Mike Olson, Founder, Cloudera – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mongodb-world-2014-keynote-mike-olson
- Dr. Angel Luis Diaz, Vice President, IBM – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mongodb-world-2014-keynote-angel-luis-diaz
- Kenny Gorman, Rackspace – https://www.mongodb.com/presentations/mongodb-world-2014-keynote-kenny-gorman
SAIF held a meeting for entrepreneurs at its office terrace on the theme of mobile marketing. There were a lot of folks from SAIF investee companies like PayTM, PropTiger etc. After initial snacks and networking, Deepak Abbot (@deepakabbot), Product Marketing Head from PayTM provided valuable insights regarding mobile marketing.
PayTM has been marketing for 1.5 years. It grew 4x. It is a desktop web company to start with. Now, 60% orders come on mobile. They have seen 6m app installs till March 2014. Windows is 2nd biggest interestingly. Have to spent money, not upgraded. 4% revenue.
They started with a target 10m in 2 yrs.
Acquire, retain. Loyalty, monetize, analytics are key to mobile marketing.
First 3 months is your best chance. Use the following 5 methods for it.
- App Store optimization – keywords in title, description. New google play policy on April 1. App icon. Category – secondary. Non-competitive categories like Education. More no of installs on iOS. Active users, uninstall, inbound links. Less than 1000 a day can rank. Ranking doesn’t change too fast on Play. If uninstall rate is 40%, it is taken -vely.
- Reviews and ratings – Ask review. Android allows review reply – use that. Windows app Store has these feature now as well.
- App Store submission – In addition to submitting to standard stores, like Apple AppStore, Google Play Store, list your application at 50 other stores like amazon, getjar as well.
- PR, Social Media – 75k IAS centric app
- Referral – Uber gave free money to use for rides
Engagement and retention
Active install. Gaming 10 times a month. Paytm 4 times a month. DTH recharge is done monthly. Don’t send irrelevant notification. Use it selectively.
- Audience segmentation – tool like Urban Airship
- Targeted offer (Commerce App)
- Virtual gratification – Quizup. Titles. Crown around photograph.
- T+X, T+Y strategy: 7th day user is not coming, send offer on 10th day
- Social plugins – Google plus. Over the air install. Tinder
- Cross promotions: don’t monetize from day 1
- Games and freemium instead of paid apps. Be clear about Biz Model
- Don’t create pricing barrier
- Advertising – Go native if possible
- In-App purchases – make it fun, 1% is minimum benchmark
Appslar, Flurry, google analytics, localytics,for mobile. How many organic, reference. Cohorts like how many came today segment. Transacting vs how often, how much money. ARPU. LTV. How many are opening on day 1. PayTM benchmark is 40%, but keep it at 10%.
- App usage
- User feedback
Configure certain standard stuff on day 1. Schema.org (Semantic web for lesser mortals) should be enabled on day 1.
Demo’ed apps at developer event. Get app to blogger a month before is a good trick to gain some traction. The audience was engaged and resonated with
Mumbai MongoDB Meetup group started late last year and had it’s first meetup on Feb 8th, Saturday. The speaker, Anand George, a MongoDB and Node.JS professional gave an excellent introduction. A MEAN (MongoDB, Express.JS, AngularJS, Node.JS) user for past 2 years, he showed a presentation and then went on to show CRUD in front of audience in Mongo Shell. The audience had prior experience in relational databases, like postgres, nosql like neo4j as well big data technologies like Hadoop. There were folks from Ugam Solutions (analytics), IBM (SI and product), Wipro (SI), Open Solutions (now a part of Fiserv), Exa India etc etc. Later we were joined by Gaurav, VP, Engineering, ScaleArc (the sponsor of the event), who asked generic questions on nosql. We even touched upon git.
MongoDB held its 1st set of events, 10 months after opening its offices in heart of Cybercity, Gurgaon.
An Afternoon in New Delhi
The event started with a welcome note by Rajnish Verma, Director Sales, MongoDB India.
I went next with a talk on Schema Design in Document NoSQL World discussing about Blog System.
Before tea break, Anil N from Techgene covered Pelica Migrator and Ashish Mittal, Daffodil Software showed ERP system, namely Applane. Latter went on to win MongoDB innovation award that evening!
Matias covered new features of MongoDB 2.6, released on April 8.
Nikhil Nayab, Cignex showed scaling using sharding using effective shard key selection emphasizing on benchmarking to collect empirical evidence rather than any other method.
Matias came back to demonstrate MongoDB Management Service (MMS).
Abhishek Tajpaul, from Intelligroup described his experiences during building of social media analytics.
Next up was Jabong’s usecase of MongoDB, before the innovation awards were announced.
An Afternoon in Bangalore
Next stop was Bangalore, where other Matias, Abhishek, Anil N., Uday Kumar (different speaker from Cignex) and I repeated our talks (Well, audience was different ;-) ). Susheel Zaveri, [24/7] talked with a lot of love for MongoDB about storing user behavior logs in MongoDB and its integration with ElasticSearch for beautiful charts for insights!
Rediff News Publishing’s use of MongoDB was described by Subbu.
After this, Livingtree won the innovation award! We had a gala night afterwards with audience.