Interview with Parag Sarda, Co-Founder at EventsHigh

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Even when the whole world is spending a major portion of their time online, offline events/activities are equally essential for a person’s recreational needs. Just go back in time a few years and there wasn’t any specific platform to discover about the events happening around you, and at the same time it wasn’t easy for the organizers to advertise about such events. But today, all it takes to connect to the whole world is a click of your mouse. Internet has enabled us to get just any kind of information in a hyper-easy manner. But with so much of content available online, it sometimes becomes difficult to find just the right event/activity that you might be interested in. So what comes to the rescue in such a situation is EventsHigh.

EventsHigh is an event discovery platform that helps the users find just the right event/activity based upon their location, interest and availability. This tech based startup operates in the form of their mobile and web based app which is currently functional for Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore. They cover more than 20 categories of events including music, technology, comedy, literature, etc.

The company which was founded by Nikesh Garera and Arvind Batra is currently serving to thousands of organizers and gets around 250,000 unique users monthly and 700,000 page views. Yes there are many other event discovery platforms out there but what separates EventsHigh from the rest of the platforms is their unique map and list based UI with recommendations and many other personalized features. They cover more events than all other competitors.Coverage matters a lot because when you looking for things to do, you need to make sure you are seeing all possible options and choose from it on the basis of interest, location and free time.

Here is a small interview with the co-founder of the company, Parag Sarda.

Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.

I did my masters from IISc in Bangalore. After finishing my masters, I joined Microsoft Hyderabad as an SDE in WinFS project and worked for two years there. After that I joined Google India in Bangalore and worked there for six years, working on projects like Goog411 for India, voice search, page speed service and Google cloud. I’ve also received the OC award for Voice Search, which is the second best award after founders award. As Google was going through restructuring and with Kosmix acquisition WalmartLabs was a very lucrative option at that time, so I decided to join it. I was in WalmartLabs for two years and worked on building big data system there. That is where I met my co-founders Arvind Batra and Nikesh Garera. Both of them left WalmartLabs in June 2014 to work on EventsHigh and I joined them in November 2014.

When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

It was not a moment but a long term desire to do something for the Indian market and the realisation over time that you have a very limited impact when you work for big companies. At the same time startup ecosystem in Bangalore was growing big and strong. When two of my close friends started something, it was obvious for me to go and ask, can I join ?

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What were the early days at EventsHigh like?

It was a roller coaster ride — as we iterated our product, built hacks to get traction, some of them would give us 2-3x jump in traffic and most of the others would fail. We learned a lot as we iterated over time. Our core belief to help people find leisure in offline activities and things to do and our desire to have large scale impact were the two things that were constant and we questioned, iterated and verified everything around it.

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

I guess it’s too early for us to have a typical or a routine day at office. Actually we need to make sure that we do not fall into stereotyping too early. That said, there are few things that has helped us a lot in the past and we continue to do so. We follow OKR process (introduced by Intel and followed at Google) very seriously. We spend good amount time to make sure everyone has clear goals and there is a transparency to the maximum possible extent within the organization. At the same time, we do have a lot of fun and a very friendly environment at the office.

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

Since all three of us have strong technical backgrounds, we knew that technology will be our strength and we need to use it to our advantage.

We collect all events information in central database by providing easy to use tools to organizers and by collecting events data through online crawlers. We have various automated pipelines which run on events database to curate it, filter out junk events and extract out categories and entity names from the event description. We have built an API over these event databases which allow us to query events for category, date or locality. We have our native android and iOS app as well as a responsive website to surface this data to the users. Most of our codebase is written in Java. Our native iOS app is in swift-2.

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

Technology is the very core to our company. We have automated pipeline for event collection and event curation which can be easily scaled to any number of cities or geographies in a day or less. Since most of our event pipelines are automated, we need very less human operations to get and curate data for any city.

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

We use Google analytics in all our apps and on our website. We track all user interactions at aggregate level and take it very seriously. From the very beginning, we have focused on implementing, measuring and iterating the cycle. We implement a feature, then we measure how is it working and then we iterate over it to have better implementation. This cycle is ongoing and used for everything we do at EventsHIgh.

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

 — In little more than a year from our website being live, we are already ranked #1 in Google for queries like “events in bangalore”, “parties in bangalore”, “cycling events in bangalore”, “startup in bangalore” and many more.

 — We have built the automated event curation pipeline which will help us to scale to other cities and geographies very easily.

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

 Our biggest technical challenge has been in the design and visual aspect of the product. We struggle to convey that message very crisply and concisely.

What gets you excited about coming to work every day?

We touch tens of thousands of users’ life everyday. There are tons of event organisers which are solely dependent on us. This is huge obligation. Whenever we fail, so many people are affected and we have our phone ringing all the time. This impact on real people’s life gets us excited every day.

What sets EventsHigh engineering culture apart?

We believe in transparency, clear responsibility, ownership and accountability. We do not have any managerial position at EH and we do not plan to have one anywhere in the near term. We empower our team to take big challenges and help them achieve it.

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Which EventsHigh value resonates best with you?

 — No ego, be Humble and have gratitude

 — It’s Okay to fail, have fun and respect others

Any piece of advice for the techies out there?

 — Build something that you’ll be always proud of and which impacts billions of people.

 

 

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