In conversation with Virender Bisht, Chief Technology Officer, MobiKwik
Please elaborate on your personal journey to where you are today?
I landed my first job with TCS-Mumbai directly after finishing college (NIT Kurukshetra) in 2000. After 6 years in various e-commerce & sales force automation projects with TCS/GE in India, US & Europe, I decided to come back to Delhi-NCR. Around the same time, Tribal Fusion – an Ad Network company based out of US, was setting up its India engineering team. I liked interacting with them and decided to join. My Dad was particularly furious as I was leaving a 50,000 + employee company to join a startup with just 5 people!
In hindsight, joining Tribal Fusion was a good move as I got exposure to the startup culture. Subsequently, I joined studyplaces.com which got acquired by Educomp solutions in 2010. My last stint was with MakeMyTrip where I led their payments vertical and Mobile Development. MakeMyTrip is an incredible and inspiring story for Indian start-ups. The company has a great culture that thrives on meritocracy, data based decisions and empowerment. On receiving the MobiKwik offer, I felt that I was going back to the past – joining an early stage company with starry eyes and a belief that this certainly was a good decision.
Looking back, I have always enjoyed working with small teams and particularly start-ups as it gives an opportunity to explore your potential and make an impact. Plus I really crave for the challenges associated with working for a start-up!
What is the technology stack used at MobiKwik and how did you decide on it? Is there any technology that you’re personally betting on, to help you scale up?
MobiKwik technology stack is typical of a mobile startup.
- We have a Java based API service that powers our Apps and Web based UI interfaces.
- Native Apps – Android, iOS, Windows
- Web front for Desktop and Mobile Site
We also share our APIs with our partners who either resell our APIs or build solutions on these. The technology stack has sort of grown organically with one central theme in all our architectural discussions – Scalability and Interoperability. We want our APIs to scale horizontally and be consumable across a variety of client platforms.
My idea of scalability is grounded in cloud based API platforms and architecture that takes advantage of this model.
According to you, what are some of the biggest developments in the online mobile payments market? And what will drive the adoption rate of mobile payment sites in India?
Mobile payments are already happening – most of the on-line businesses are reporting 50% (approximately) of their business coming from mobile apps/sites. Often these transactions are driven by consumers who do not have broadband. Cheaper smart-phones with a ubiquitous 3G data are driving people online.
It is in this backdrop, that we should see the case of mobile payments company like MobiKwik. We are on our way to build a mobile wallet for a billion Indians – one they can use with convenience and trust at various brands online and offline!
How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company? How else does IT help your company stand apart from its rivals?
We use SAAS based web and mobile analytics solutions to analyze our user behavior and drive improvements. We also have business intelligence systems to understand user segments.
Can you please describe what a typical day @ Office is like?
There is nothing like a typical day at work! Every day is different. With smart engineers around – the job becomes much simpler. I have to ensure that people are working on the right problems – so often it comes down to prioritizing work. I also spend time with young engineers and nudge them to think big. I particularly love spending time with customer operations team members – they give me a pulse of our customers.
What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?
Functional skills are table-stakes and we won’t hire if you cannot supplement the combined knowledge that already exists within our team. Beyond functional skills, I look for what drives an individual. At this stage, we are looking for people who are self-driven and can work in a dynamic environment.
How do you personally keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world? Any piece of advice for the techies out there?
I like to read a lot and do test drives wherever I can. If there is a particular technology that I like, I would discuss that with a team member and encourage them to integrate that in a small POC. We then discuss pros and cons over coffee!
For young techies, I would like to advise them to learn at least two programming languages. Different programming languages tend to complement each other with their strength areas. If you are a Java guy, I would advise php. If dev-ops is something that excites you, go learn python!
Some more Matter for your Grey Cells
- “Lacuna in the market was the inspiration behind Intellipaat”, says Diwakar Chittora, Founder & CEO, Intellipaat
- “Our product focus and experience helps us set precedents for everyone in the Mobile CRM field”, says Baishampayan Ghose, Co-founder, Helpshift Inc
- “We have always been using LAMP technologies and find them reliable and agile”, says Shalesh Visen Singh, CTO, DogSpot
- “There is a need to create an intelligent platform which can filter only relevant matches”, says Sarvjeet Ahuja, CTO, hirist.com & iimjobs.com
- “We are not very stuck on the technology part, use tools which fit best for the job on hand”, says Jimish Jobanputra, Co-founder & CTO, DesiDime.com