We have seen an e-commerce boom in the last 5 years and this wave doesn’t seem to be coming to a halt anytime soon. The e-commerce industry has reached to a stage where almost anything can be purchased online. A category which has shown a lot of development lately is of furniture and home décor which is a $25 billion industry in India. There have been a few new entrants recently but a company which has been there for quite some time now, experiencing all these developments up close and surviving the troughs and crests of the time wave is Mebelkart.
Mebelkart is an online store selling furniture and home décor products across India through their website, mebelkart.com, and an augmented reality app, Funterior. The app lets the users evaluate the look and feel of furniture in their homes through a smartphone. This Bangalore based company was co-founded by the trio of Ranjeet Vimal (CTO), Rahul Agrawal (CEO) and Nikhil Saraf (COO) in the year 2011 when they began with an initial capital of Rs 30 lac, an amount which primarily came from their savings. Last year in the month of August Askme.com and Astro Malaysia invested $20 million in Mebelkart. The company which is now selling around 50,000+ furniture and home décor products has experienced a tremendous growth in the last 1 year and is all set to change the way people buy furniture.
Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.
After completing my studies in Computer Science from IIT-Bombay in 2009, I Joined Arcot Systems/CA technologies, a cloud based online payment security system where I was responsible for implementing 3-D secure for more than 100 banks worldwide including ICICI, Citi, Standard Chartered and many others. I also, worked closely with credit card issuers MasterCard, Visa and Amex. After this I worked for Piscean media where I was solely responsible for the entire backend server side.
Simultaneously, I founded DreamStarts.in, a job portal for Indian startups, basically a social venture. Currently it serves around 350 Indian startups, featuring more than 500 jobs and 10,000 applicants and was covered in Economic Times and Outlook Business magazine. Apart from this business and technology has always interested me, hence I’ve helped publishers/magazines in building digital shops. During college days, I was the author for Geekonnet, a tech blog, where I used to write about Indian startups. I was also Mumbai’s best tech blogger for the year 2008-09.
I take pride in being a SEO/SMM expert and had provided consultancy for few early stage Indian startups earlier. Currently I handle the technologies at MebelKart where I write codes for 80% of my time.
When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
It all started when I was a student at IIT-Bombay. I had a tech blog Geekonnet and I used to publish entrepreneur’s interviews on that blog. During that time I interacted with many startups, interviewed many entrepreneurs & learnt a lot from them. It was only then that I realized my real calling of becoming an entrepreneur and had a few failed attempts of startup while in IITB. 🙂
What were the early days at MebelKart like?
I would say “It was exciting”. We were the early player in this domain and the market was not as mature as it is today. My co-founder (Nikhil) and I used to visit vendors during the day time to interact with them and educate them on selling and the advantages of selling items like furniture online, and at night we used to write codes. Initially, we personally delivered around 150 orders. We used to interact with our initial customers and take feedback and improvement suggestions from him/her. It was nothing less than a roller coaster ride and we three enjoyed that ride.
Can you please describe what a typical day at office is like?
The greatest part of my work at MebelKart is that there really isn’t such thing as a typical day. At different stages of the company and product development, I’ve handled coding, project management, product designing, R&D, business development and even delivery. Now since we are in the high growth mode, the priority is growing the team, so a great deal of my time is dedicated to recruiting, which hopefully won’t be a permanent situation.
Help me out and email me your resume if you’re good! email@example.com.
Can you tell us about the technology stack used at MebelKart?
It all depends on what kind of product you are building. We are very open with tech stack. We use multiple things, php, java, node.js, Angular, mySQL, mongo db, elasticsearch, redis, 3d-Unity and a lot of other things depending on what we are building.
Is there any technology that you’re personally betting on to help you scale up?
Personally, I find a great scope in and hence, focusing a lot on Virtual & Augmented Reality. Infact, at MebelKart we are working on a virtual reality device which will be launched soon. We had already launched our augmented reality app funterior in 2014.
How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company?
MebelKart is entirely driven by design & Data. We use analytics tools like Omniture and GA to track each and every information in order to analyze that and gather intelligence. On the basis of these data we design features, our marketing champaigns, web strategies, growth, etc.
How else does technology help your company stand apart from its rivals?
At MebelKart, our mantra has been “High on Automation”. We have and still use products which helps us in smoothening of our in-house operations, marketing & customer support. Innovation around technology & early adoption of tools gives us an edge over our competition.
What has been the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced while running MebelKart?
Getting the right people, who understand the technology well, can keep pace with the ever changing technology demands and can align the role of technology with our vision was tough.
What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?
I look for 2 things-
1) Enthusiasm, and
2) Learning capability.
And obviously he/she should be a good coder.
How do you keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world?
I keep myself updated on recent happenings by reading different tech blogs. I also discuss a lot about technology with my friends.
What gets you excited about coming to work every day?
Definitely it’s the new challenges, new ideas, and good people to interact with.
What sets MebelKart engineering culture apart?
We strictly follow 3 things-
2) Ownership, and
At MebelKart’s technology department everyone is an individual entrepreneur. They are independent to build any product which aligns with company’s vision.
Which MebelKart value resonates best with you?
Using technology to disrupt one of India’s largest consumer market.
Any piece of advice for the techies out there?
Always have a clear vision of the product you are building. First solve the problem and then write the code. We techies are close to God so we can do anything.