Interview with Anand Jain, Co-Founder at CleverTap

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The mobile apps market has been on a growth track since the last few years and is expected to reach $70 billion in annual revenue by the year 2017. In the past five years, companies have spent a considerable amount of time, money and attention in developing mobile apps that can help them engage and connect with their customers. And as the companies worldwide keep counting big on apps, the need for app analytics platform and tools is only eminent. CleverTap is one such startup that is catering to this need of companies across many industries.

CleverTap is an app analytics platform that lets the user do a lot more than just analytics. It is a platform that lets a user perform analytics at incredible speeds, provides ready answers and also helps in engaging with the customers via push notifications, in-app messages, emails or web notifications. The app provides detailed analytics on what the user does in the app and assists in providing a more personalized app experience with an improved user loyalty. The company was co-founded in the year 2013 by Sunil Thomas, Anand Jain and Suresh Kondamudi, and has been doing really well to reach the Silicon Valley startup 100 list last year.

Here is an interview with Anand Jain, the co-founder of CleverTap.

Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.

I am currently the Co-Founder of CleverTap. Previously, I was the founding CTO of burrp.com, India’s largest local reviews and recommendations platform out of Mumbai, India. 

burrp.com was acquired in 2009 by the publicly traded yellow pages company, Infomedia 18 Ltd (now merged with Network 18). Prior to burrp.com, I was based out of the US – in Seattle and San Francisco, when I worked with Motorola, AT&T and Brience.

With more than two decades of experience in architecting and building software, I am a management professional with significant experience in leading engineering, design, quality and IT teams.

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When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

I’ve been an off and on entrepreneur right from my school/college days. During those days I used to repair electronic goods, and assemble PCs. After I moved back from the US, I founded a startup called burrp.com in 2006, which got acquired by Network18. After spending four years at Network18, I founded CleverTap in July 2013 with the goal of making mobile app engagement relevant, contextual and personal.

What were the early days at CleverTap like?

During the early days of CleverTap, it was just we, the three founders, coding away – trying to build the ver.1 of the concept. We used to work out from the conference room of a friend’s office without any distractions. We were lucky to get some high profile customers early on, who not only validated the need for a product like ours, but also gave confidence in the direction we were taking.

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

As a startup, we’ve been lucky to get a quick early growth. So the typical day at work is very hectic. The day begins with a team stand-up to discuss progress on the ongoing tasks. Our product development is agile, and we do about 4-5 releases in production on any given day. The rest of the time is spent on product, design and tech discussions.

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

We’re primarily a Java shop. Having said that, we’ve invented our own data store that can process hundreds of millions data points in less than a second – on commodity hardware. That gives us some unique advantages. We’re able to process all the incoming customer data in real-time. Apart from Java, we also use MongoDB and we’re hosted on AWS.

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

Since our own core offering is analytics and user engagement, we’re using our own product to track customer analytics like retention, usage of product, satisfaction, etc. We measure the time it takes for our customers to go live, and send their first campaign.

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

I believe, we’ve got the best tech team out there. We’re really proud of what we’ve built in the short period of time since we started up. We stand apart from our rivals in a few ways –

  1. Next generation technology that gives my customers an edge over their competitors.
  2. Our speed of responding to customer needs and requests.
  3. Our outstanding customer success team – which on an average responds back to customers in less than 5 minutes.  

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

Our biggest tech challenge was to write the mobile app push notification stack. We underestimated the number of campaigns, and the number of users our customers will reach out to on a daily basis. We had to throw away version one of our code, and rewrite it from the scratch to make it scalable. Today, we send more than 80 million push notifications per day.   

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

Passion and teamwork are the two attributes that I make no compromises about.

Is the candidate passionate about solving the same problems as the rest of the team?

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

I follow the happenings in tech very closely via tech blogs, and twitter accounts of some technologists and leaders in the tech space.

What gets you excited about coming to work every day?

Making our customers happy, and helping them achieve their business goals is what truly excites me. Most enterprise products have a clunky interface, are slow and don’t work as expected. We’ve made a clean product that just works as expected, and is extremely fast. This simple fact gives joy to our customers, and that in turn motivates me to come to work every day.

What sets CleverTap engineering culture apart?

The engineering team is goal driven, doesn’t make compromises and is passionate about building software the right way. There is a team camaraderie that I haven’t seen anywhere else in my two decades of experience.    

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Which CleverTap value resonates best with you?

We’re all committed to building a truly world class product that delights customers.

Any piece of advice for the techies out there?

Do understand how the products you build get used in the real world, that’ll make you more empathetic towards your users, and will help you make better products.  

 

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