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.
Category Archives: eCommerce
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
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.
AdChemy is helping retailers upload their entire inventory of millions of products to Google Shopping
Google Product ads got launched in India as well!
Amazon had forayed into India as online product comparison avatar, Junglee. Online shops had listed the product prices over there. Now, it has started showing offline shops for mobile and TV products in the following cities: Bangalore, Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Gurgaon. It just lists store addresses and phone number, but doesn’t show the availability or price.
It is an interesting route for world’s biggest marketplace Amazon and a different model as well. Amazon USA, UK etc have 2 models:
- An inventory-based model, where they sell, what they have in their warehouses.
- Additionally, it has a marketplace model, where they allow sellers to list their products in the marketplace and the website visitors can buy on the platform.
The latter is very successful in emerging markets esp BRICS (Brzil, Russia, India, China) as well as Korea, Indonesia etc.
The 3rd model, wherein a location-based price comparison sites show prices from offline stores near you is interesting one in country like India. As a first cut, Junglee Nerby aims to drive web users to make a call to the stores and drive footfalls. I can not find any monetization built into the product as yet.
Comparison of services
|Junglee by Amazon||Feb 2012 (site launch). May 2013 Nearby Launch||2 categories, mobile and TV||Bangalore, Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Gurgaon||Handful||Coming from Amazon|
|PriceBaba||2012||Electronic Items||Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Gurgaon, Noida||400||Stores are listed post personal visit by verification team|
|Wicfy||2011||Multiple||Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata||Lots||Patented iso-pricing technology and interesting retailer-crowdsourcing model|
500 Startups recently funded Pricebaba.Another player is Pune-based Wicfy, which takes crowd-sourcing model to find cheapest price for a product and had raised money from Eco System Ventures. Naaptol have an Android app listing prices of product from stores, which never expanded beyond Mumbai. MySmartPrice also lists products from e-retailers. A yet-to-be launched portal, IndiaOrders will launch with 60 stores of Mumbai showing their wares for online buying. It takes slightly different route of enabling a buyer to get the products delivered to their homes. Interesting twist here is that a buyer can go to the store for queries, refunds, exchanges as well. It is an interesting segment with increasing middle class of India, but getting constantly updated price from retailers is a challenge. IPO-bound Justdial had a portal called Quick Quotes in works, which they had announced in Feb, 2012. That got coverage from Medianama in Sep and other portals as well. But, that page has been taken off Justdial website since.
Nexus Venture Partners (NVP) is an early and growth stage VC fund looking at Indian start-ups going after global market esp. US as well as US companies looking to enter India. PeepalSys follows Y-Combinator model into talent recruitment space. So, when both of these put together an extremely relevant topic of bringing Silicon Valley culture into Indian companies with a panel of extremely successful technology leaders from NVP portfolio companies, it attracted a packed house in Sumant Mangalkar auditorium, MCCIA, ICC Towers, Pune.
NVP managing director Jishnu Bhattacharjee (Linkedin profile, @b_jishnu) introduced the topic to us. He clarified that we should bring good habits of Silicon Valley culture into Indian companies and also supplement it with our own elements. Silicon Valley has proven to be a successful model for innovation with a culture fostering flexible hours, meritocracy, and rewards using stock option. NVP had made its first investment in a Pune company back in 2000 in Sigma, which worked out of Pune IT Park, Aundh. More recently, they have invested in Druva, started by ex-Veritas (later acquired by Symantec), which provides backup solutions. He introduced the panelists to us, which I will sprinkle as I describe each talk. It was followed by a presentation from all 5 panelists of 3-minutes each, before Q&A panel discussion started between Jishnu, audience on one side and the panelists on the other side.
Abinash Tripathy from HelpShift recruits SpecialOps guy
Helpshift makes it easy to create that exceptional customer support experience in native mobile apps, transforming customers into the most passionate sales team. Abinash Tripathy (@abinashtripathy)is the founder and CEO. He led another company called Infinity Beta, a thinktank of startup ideas like Paisa.Com. He recalled that they began talking about company culture even before they began working on product, wow! He illustrated the culture of city with a picture of Pune landmarks, festival, food etc. Culture is value system of a group of individuals, in this case startup employees. He contrasted an army vs special operations team. Whereas an army has the following characteristics: a large number of individuals, hierarchy, obedience, defined roles, and uses mandated tools; the special ops team has high-potential soldiers, only a handful of them, who would use innovative tools, will generally possess high IQ and make their own decisions towards a mission. Building such a culture starts with recruiting high-potential employees. Helpshift values attitude rather than skills. They have inverted the traditional recruitment model by making it inbound. So, instead of HR or external recruitment team reaching out to many engineers, the company pages and its work act as a magnet for the kind of talent, they want. It actually scares engineers with faint heart. This way instead of spending 2 valuable days just filtering out numerous resumes, Abinash and BG are able to focus on high probable. Paisa.com did not have a careers page. Instead it was extremely well architect-ed, so an inquisitive and interested soul would examine it and find it in some HTML tag an email for this purpose. And, that would be just start of a 3-months long recruitment cycle. Everyone was surprised including the host Jishnu, when he mentioned that. He then went on to describe kinds of questions and tasks in the interview process. They look for people, who can learn new skills, they have never used before, quickly come up to speed and accomplish a fairly non-trivial task with it. Prior experience (existing skills) don’t matter to them. One such example is: Using Arduino to build a Build Process Signal, innovative, very, very innovative. So, the candidate learns its device driver and integrates continuous integration system like Jenkins with it. Please
read this comment made by AB in his blog AB’s (the blog is now private) answer on Quora for “How did Helpshift hire talented developers” for unadulterated version.
If one were to walk into Helpshift’s office, it’d look like a playground with foosball, video-games, mini-gym within the office. Some objects, which all of them possessed included:
- Amazon Kindle: All Helpshifters are avid readers. In this digital age, when many professionals I know have moved on just snacking on Twitter, blogs for keeping up with new trends, learning new professional and life skills, it is refreshing to know that company encourages such habits among employees.
- Emacs: With a plethora IDEs and WYSIWG editors, plain text editors like VI( M) and emacs rule geeks like Helpshifters. I remember meeting a Symbiosis Design student working at InfinityBeta bemoaning this fact , that he wasn’t allowed Dreamweaver or something, rather had to use emacs!
- Clojure: Geeks at Helpshift love functional language running atop JVM.
- Raspberry Pi: DIY kit for making your own computer.
- Bitcoin: World’s alternative currency
- Special interest outside of work: Be it Maths, Guitar, robotics or Mahabharata, you have got to be of high calibre in one of your hobbies, that you pursue outside of work.
- Continuous learning and technology eco-system involvement: [Self observation] You’d find Helpshifters at Coursera, local Emacs group etc.
Their role models included Steve jobs, Richard Stallman and 7 more, which audience could barely identify. You will find such quotes like: Real artists ship.
A software engineer at Helpshift is expected to be self-didactic, whose definition none from audience was able to specify. In jest, I say that AB inverted panel discussion by making audiences answer, while he put forth questions! I’d say the audience including me were lousy by his high standards. Coming back to the culture, at Helpshift, the software developers also act as customer support in addition to product development. This way they are aware how their code performs in the field. Recruiting and appreciating employees is quite important in such cases. Otherwise, as noted in The Five Languages of Appreciation:
- Lack of praise and recognition leads to low job satisfaction
- Lower job satisfaction leads to higher turnover
- Higher turnover has a negative impact on customer satisfaction.
Jonah from Indix builds a team of ants for heavy data lifting
Jonah Stephen Jeremiah (Linkedin profile) said the mission of Indix is to store a vast amount of data and make sense of it, derive interesting inferences from it. They have over billion product prices database and a market intelligence system on top of it. They are 35-member team and have an office ready to accommodate 35 more. In parallel with the metaphor of special ops, Indix has ants, who do heavy lifting well beyond their capacities. Indix fosters transparency right from office setup having no opaque walls for managers, even meeting rooms. He did not describe his recruitment funnel from start, but somebody in advance stage spends a full day in the office before (s) he joins.
Gaurav from ScaleArc impresses candidates by its work
Gaurav took the talks further, but the panel started digressing from Silicon Valley culture to company work and their recruitment efforts (We, audience also helped this change of course, but the discussions were stimulating nonetheless, so no big regret from my side). He started by describing how external circumstances like family and society view startups in India. He described how his dad consoled him on his startup job with words: You will get a a job in big company soon! Many marriageable aged boys and girls would take up an MNC jobs to boost their attractiveness to in-laws and potential partners. <Self observation> Many fresh graduates themselves seem to take a startup job as last resort after having been rejected by MNC, as a stepping stone to MNC. They screw up the startup and don’t give their 100% to their current employer. Instead prepare for interviews or MBA’s. On the other side, many MNC engineers will tell startups that they need higher salaries, because they are compromising on the brand of their company by coming to your startup </Self Observation>. The way ScaleArc would approach recruitment would be making founder accessible to the potential candidate, describing the great work they are doing, which the candidate should be able to fathom being technically adept herself/himself. Then, they would talk about the kind of clients using it already – likes of Flipkart, Microsoft, Kixeye (Zynga’s competitor), which would put any arguments to rest.
Ankit Pruthi from Unicommerce looks for ethical hacker
Unicommerce looks for ethical hackers, who is an equivalent of 100 programmers. With a team of 4 developers, they are managing a large scale SAAS order fulfillment system, being used by 1000 concurrent users, for 40 warehouses to ship 50K products everyday across India (Snapdeal, Jabong), SouthEast Asia (Lazada), even Pakistan and Canada. Ankit, the youngest panellist at 26 years of age talked about the custom scripting language they have created to help customers come up to speed quickly on their product.
Atul Phadnis of WhatsOn India builds a cross-functional team without silos
WhatsOn was ably presented by Atul Phadnis as a company, who are further along in their startup journey than rest of panelists. That POV (point of view) gave a glimpse of what you’d do, when you go beyond 30-70’s in employee strength. He was visibly proud of having hired best talents from large companies, two in recent past from Airtel and another one, I don’t remember. He spoke of the high energy atmosphere within the company, which was observed by potential recruits to be a reason for the same. I really liked the fact that he democratically chose an office inside or very near mall in Worli, which many companies are shy of doing lest their employees get distracted. He spoke of a road-show in bay area, where WhatsOn showcased their technical prowess to equally competent silicon Valley crowd and got nod for good work. He also talked about expanding his company to South East (Indonesia) and Middle East (Jordan) Asia and integrating them into WhatsOn culture, very mature POV coming from him.
Q & A
It became more interactive towards latter half by design. I’d leave that for a new blog post in future.
This post covers the inside mechanics of game development, as I understood from a lecture of Roberto Dillon at Techfest 2013 in IIT, Mumbai last Saturday.
Game designers explain their approach in a subjective manner. Hence, there is a need for pragmatic view of the same to break down a game at different level of complexities. The post starts by describing the classic M.D.A. framework and goes on to describe new frameworks, namely A.G.E. and the 6-11 framework. A few games including Rovio’s Angry Birds will be used as examples to make us understand the concepts.
Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics Framework
Hunicke R., LeBanc M. and Zubek R. proposed this methodology in 2004 at National Conference on Artificial Intelligence.
- Mechanics: the game rules i.e. basic, atomic actions that players can do to play the game
- Dynamics: Runtime
- Aesthetics: Emotional, Visual
Eight kinds of Fun based on:
- Sensation (e.g. pleasures)
- Fantasy (e.g. role playing)
- Narrative (e.g. Storytelling, game as drama)
- Challenge (e.g. problem solving, obstacle course)
- Fellowship (e.g. social framework)
- Discovery (e.g. uncharted territory)
- Expression (e.g. self discovery)
- Submission (e.g. Game as pastime)
6 basic emotions and 11 instincts
Emotions: Fear, Anger, Pride, Sadness, Excitement, joy
Instincts: Survival, Revenge, curiosity, Self identification, Aggressiveness, Competition, Protection, Greed, Collecting, Communication, Color Appreciation
Analyzing the game
- Play the game
- Determine the main aesthetics and how they develop into the player’s experience by using the „6-11 Framework“
- Draw the „On the way to Fun“ diagram
- Relate instincts to game dynamics
- Explore how dynamics are obtained (i.e. analyze mechanics)
- Not sure? Go back to Step 1! 😉
Justdial is India’s leading local search engine. It has quietly forayed into Food Home Delivery business by tying up with some restaurants. It is entering crowded market with national players like JustEat, Foodpanda, bookurtable and a few local players like Titbit, TastyKhana, DeliveryChef, FoodKaMood (now a part of Titbit). Another player in restaurant menu business is Zomato, but they don’t do home delivery. I had written my 3 features wishlist for them earlier.
Justdial Restaurants Page is just a static page with links to Justdial’s main site. While Restaurants Vertical on the homepage is a shortcut to Restaurant search. They have a tie-up with bookurtable for table reservation at restaurants. Interestingly, bookurtable has quietly introduced Food home Delivery themselves, so let us see how long the partnership with Justdial lasts, as they are now direct competitors. [Update: Looks like the tie-up is no longer in place, as I could not find a restaurant with bookurtable link on Justdial’s site.]
Here is some praise for restaurant search of Justdial:
Ok after some real-life search for quality restaurant, Justdial wins! Rest (Burp, Zomato etc.) is really pathetic…Wdyt? #food
— Baskar Ganapathy (@BaskarG) January 18, 2013
How it works
You Search For A Restaurant
You will find an Order Food icon prominently below SMS/Email button. There is old Menu link at the left.
Area of Delivery and Time Selection
You are presented with text menu for such restaurants, unlike scanned copy for other restaurants. When clicking on plus icon next to your desired dish, you are presented with the following screen.
It shows areas, where the restaurant delivers. When you start typing, a different set of areas appear.
If the restaurant delivers to the area selected, Proceed button is activated. Else, an error message is thrown.
You can select addons, if available and even add customizations.
You can login with your Justdial credentials or as a guest. There is a verification code on mobile, which you need to enter.
Thereafter, order summary is neatly show and you need to confirm the order. Once you receive the food, you pay the delivery boy. Restaurant then pays Justdial their commission.
All in all, this is a really significant move by Justdial in the local search space. Probably, this is the first time, Justdial is moving from a lead-based model to transactions. The interface is fresh and convenient. The old Menu icon at the left bottom on the search listing page, as shown in the first screen should be different, as that icon is now associated with jpeg images of menu of restaurants, which Justdial used to show. This will help them in doing SEO for restaurants on food items. They will need to add options like online payment, loyalty program and increase restaurant coverage with their vast presence to differentiate from the competitors. Other players like Getit have integration with Bookurtable for table booking, not for home delivery.