Interview with Kovid Kapoor, Co-Founder at Holidify

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[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have additional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

 

Holidify is a destination discovery platform that assists the travellers in deciding their next travel destination. They have built a smart recommendation engine that gives relevant results to the users based on their location and preferences. The unique thing about this travel start-up is that it doesn’t provide you the usual travel options which you can get on any other website, it gives you an exciting range of options of lesser-known travel destinations and helps in breaking the monotony when it comes to domestic travel. It also provides essential information about the destination like top things to do, places to visit, how to reach, local cuisine, etc.  

The company which was started by two IIT Bombay alumni, Kovid Kapoor and Rohit Shroff, in the year 2014 has, since then, seen a tremendous growth and the company website (holidify.com) gets more than 5 lac hits every month. They have also launched the Holidify app in June 2015 which is currently the highest rated travel app in India and has more than 10,000 downloads. This Delhi based start-up has recently raised $100 K from an angel round of funding which it wants to use for better technology and content expansion.

We caught up with Kovid to know more about this destination discovery start-up.

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Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.

I graduated from IIT Bombay in 2012 with a B.Tech. in Computer Science and joined Opera Solutions as an Analytics Specialist. I consulted multiple US based healthcare providers on multiple analytical projects, from forecasting patient volumes, optimizing staffing resources and building a system for preventing missed charges in insurance claims. I worked with varied teams across software, analytics and consulting, which was a great learning experience for a first job.

When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

Me and Rohit (my Co-Founder at Holidify) have always been intrigued by startups, and we used to keep discussing various ideas during our undergrad years. In our final semester, we were working on an app-based taxi-hailing venture and reached the final stages of Eureka!, the B-plan competition of E-Cell. Due to various constraints, we were not able to execute it at that time, but were kicking ourselves in hindsight when Ola and later Uber became huge on that idea. That’s when we decided that the next time we come upon an idea that we really like, we would take the plunge and start our own company.

What were the early days at Holidify like?

In contrast with most startup these days, we had extremely humble beginning. We were totally bootstrapped for a long, long time. I was working alone on development in my spare time after work for over a year – and anyone can tell you that working alone on something for so long requires a lot of commitment and focus. Rohit had quit his job, and was leading all the non-tech work from content to product design to fundraising. We were both working from my house for almost 2 years and at one point we had 10 interns working from my house!

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Can you please describe what a typical day at office is like?

Our work culture is very flexible but dedicated. Unfortunately, at a lot of startups, being “flexible” and “cool” has come to be associated with being lazy and complacent, but for us what it really means is that you have the flexibility to finish your work according to the style that suits you best. All of us are super foodies – so our office is probably the most well-stocked with snacks and food. ☺

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Can you tell us about the technology stack used at Holidify?

All of us prefer Java as the preferred programming language. We use Springs/Hibernate framework along with MySQL for backend, with a lot of caching done using Redis. In my opinion, choosing the right design pattern which helps you scale the programming process is more important than a specific technology.

Is there any technology that you’re personally betting on to help you scale up?

Establishing the right development practises and always keeping scalability in mind even from the initial stage is important to scale up very quickly. Developers always need to stay aware of the scalability issues of their code.

How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company?

We have set up processes to regularly track the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for our business – from customer acquisition and improving engagement to deciding what is working for the product. As both I and Rohit have a good background in data analytics, it is natural for us to be extremely focused on numbers driving most of our decisions.

How else does technology help your company stand apart from its rivals?

We have developed an extensive content base for over 1,000 travel options across India, with comprehensive meta-data tagged for each holiday option. This lets us build different algorithms on top of this data to help our users find the holiday option that is best suited for their next trip.

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What has been the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced while running Holidify?

We focus a lot on getting the correct objective content for everything listed on our website, and we crawl and evaluate multiple sources of information to figure this out. Doing this on a regular basis without much manual processing was really challenging.

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What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?

The main attribute that we gauge is whether the person is hungry to learn and hard-working. If someone has the desire to learn and is willing to put the effort, I am confident that with the right guidance he’ll be able to learn and be a great fit to our team.

How do you keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world?

I have a lot of friends who work in different companies across the globe – Google, Uber, Microsoft etc. I have realized that networking with people and chatting with them is the best way to keep up with your knowledge. I also spend some time learning new technologies from time to time, from MOOC websites like Coursera.

What gets you excited about coming to work every day?

Creating a great product that our users love, and improving that experience over time is what keeps us all highly motivated.

What sets Holidify engineering culture apart?

We’re a very small, well-knit team of engineers who work together on everything related to product development – from brainstorming on product feature ideas, marketing campaigns and analysing user behaviour. We’re very proud of the transparency we have with our employees on all sides – even the status of our traffic, revenues and fundraising.

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Any piece of advice for the techies out there?

Don’t focus too much on one particular technology or a framework – there is always a new “better/cooler” technology that is out there. If you have your fundamentals right, you will be able to learn anything new in no time. That being said, always be updated with the latest trends in technology and understand what is being used in the industry.

 

[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have additional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

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