The sharing economy is really growing huge and so is evident from the success of many startups based on the same concept, be it Airbnb, Uber or Oyo. Sharing Economy or Collaborative Consumption is an idea where people rent out things that they are not using. Well, you might think that this is no different from sharing goods amongst your neighborhood or participating in a car pool. But what is different here is technology. Technology has made it happen on a much larger scale, making sharing of assets easier and cheaper than ever before. Making use of the same concept to enable people borrow stuff within their neighborhood is a Delhi based startup, Baatna.
Baatna is a startup that enables peer-to-peer sharing using their android app. It lets people borrow stuff instantly by posting their need/requirement on the app and get it fulfilled from other users on the app within their locality. They are trying to create an online community where peer-to-peer sharing is possible, easily and quickly. The point of differentiation for this startup is that they are not using an inventory based model, rather, they are just providing the platform where users can broadcast their requests and borrow stuff seamlessly from the fellow Baatna users.
We recently had a conversation with one of the co-founders of the company, Apoorv Arora.
Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.
I graduated from NSIT and joined Commvault Systems, Hyd in 2013. Their security software Simpana has many sub-domains & technologies to work upon – Android, iOS, Java GUI -Desktop Application, Java Web Services, C# Web Services; this gave me the opportunity to learn the complete stack.
I joined Zomato in January, 2015 as an Android Engineer, and it has drastically changed the way I work. Spending 12-15 hours 6 days a week, building, improving, and continuously evolving the product, I learnt great techniques not only in Mobile Application Development, but also the ways in which technology & design can help a business scale. At Zomato, being a techie, you don’t just interact with the tech team and product managers, you are also answerable to the Sales, Operations, Marketing and the CEO (Deepi) himself.
Zomato taught me that if you work really hard, you will sooner or later get what you really want to. Baatna was being ideated by my college batchmate Poras and the idea really interested me. I had some strong views about how we should go about building this idea and finally decided to take up the challenge.
When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
When I was in Commvault, in spite of all the tech experience, implementation of ideas that walked across my head, never seemed very easy to me. When I joined Zomato, it being an entrepreneurial venture itself, opened up a world where every individual was getting the opportunity, freedom and guidance to implement great innovative ideas. But Zomato being in existence for the past 6 years, had already found a direction and other problem statements which were kickstarting at that point of time seemed more challenging to me. That’s when I came across Baatna, where the idea was fresh, had never been done in India before and also, has strong social impact.
What were the early days at Baatna like?
For the first time I experienced a log of hardship juggling between two jobs. A day job, and a night one, for almost a span of 3 months. My co-founder was my flatmate and we would be burning the midnight oil every night, trying to figure out the best way possible to overcome the problem statements of peer-to-peer sharing in India. Everyday, we had a new challenge in our hand, be it choosing the right tech stack, the right way of product validation, hiring or being economical while making sure we aren’t running out of cash for survival.
Can you please describe what a typical day at office is like?
Initially, it used to be just the 4 founders working together, managing our individual roles. Now that I have a team of 8 techies, I have to simultaneously manage multiple projects, and also meanwhile make sure that my individual efficiency doesn’t get affected. We have figured out many solutions to ensure that we follow the best practices for time management, project management and communication in the team, while keeping the entertainment factor alive. We have code marathons, rewards for team members finding the most number of bugs on every launch, badminton sessions and Hauz Khas social nights happening almost every month.
Can you tell us about the technology stack used at Baatna?
Our tech stack has 4 layers –
Data Access Layer – Provides simple access to the data stored on persistent storage of the relational database. We do this using MySQL & Hibernate.
Security Layer – Provides Authentication and Authorisation to access the data. We have used authorisation headers, data-encryption, versioning and communication over https to ensure only the correct request reaches the data services layer.
Services Layer – A uniform-interface layer which completely follows the architecture style of REST (Representational State Transfer). In order to implement JAX-RS API, we have used the Jersey RESTful Web Services framework.
Presentation Layer – This is where the magic happens at the client’s end. We have built a native Android application using Android SDK in Android Studio.
Is there any technology that you’re personally betting on to help you scale up?
We are a consumer driven community, so scale plays an important role in our organisation.
News Feed is by far the most populated and mostly-viewed section in our community. By providing a social login to the application, followed by caching (Memcache & Reddis) and clustering (an advanced k-means algorithm) of the data generated by all users, we ensure every user gets to see what they would really like to see, real fast.
Using distributed computing and parallel processing for sending out push notifications and messages, we ensure that they reach out to the end user without fail and at the earliest.
How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company?
Due to a small number of users currently, we are able to manage with Google Analytics to get the data we need for intelligent marketing and business decisions. We also let Answers by Fabric provide us useful insights and instant visibility to keep a constant pulse on user’s behaviour.
How else does technology help your company stand apart from its rivals?
We are using the state-of-the-art technology. Most start ups, at an early stage, opt for economic alternatives to paid technologies, which eventually creates problem for them at the later stage. We are trying to make sure that we use the best options available in the market for any sort of service.
Amazon Web Services for hosting, load-balancing, and scaling our application servers; Separate Database Servers with automatic replication of data so that we never lose the data and Native Mobile Application using the Android SDK toolkit.
But, the vital component is the Design methodology that stands out. We make sure, that the UI and the UX are top-notch, as Saagar is the most detail oriented UX professional that I have come across.
What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?
Hunger to bring about a change in the existing system, hustle hard wherever they get stuck, common-sense, the ability to crack down big problems into fractions and solve them subsequently and ambitious enough to see the bigger picture.
How do you keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world?
We keep a check on how other startups are doing and subsequently learn from them. Sites like Hacker News, Techmeme, TechCrunch, etc. help a lot in bringing in any new product, startup or invention to our attention.
What gets you excited about coming to work every day?
Work isn’t work when something is this close to your heart. Baatna is my baby project and I am always excited about Baatna. The fact that something we visualised a few months ago, is now a reality, gives me a thrill to get up and just rush to the office.
What sets Baatna engineering culture apart?
We make sure that when we make someone a part of the team, we carefully analyse their choices, their goals and their areas of interest, so that people enjoy while learning and are motivated enough to achieve what they came for.
Which Baatna value resonates best with you?
The social influence that we are trying to convey to our users.
Any piece of advice for techies out there?
Be sure of the fact that you want to be a techie. Never do it just for the money. Enjoy the thrill every problem brings along and learn the concepts, not the language.
P.S. Come join Baatna