Interview with Sahil Tewari, Head – Product Engineering at Wishberry

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India has been a global hotbed for startups and is expected to remain the same for years to come. We have witnessed an explosion of startups in the last couple of years and in 2015 alone there has been a funding of around $150 million from investors worldwide to many hyperlocal startups in India. In spite of that, funding remains a major issue for a majority of startups. In such a situation crowdfunding can actually be a really good solution, and letting you leverage crowdfunding for your startup idea is an online portal called Wishberry.

Wishberry is a Mumbai based crowdfunding platform which was founded by two ex McKinsey employees Priyanka Agarwal and Anshulika Dubey. It is a platform that allows creative entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to friends, family and everyone else out there who can contribute funds for their project. It is an ‘All or Nothing’ platform where the creators get 60 days to get 100% of their target funding, and if they fail to reach that amount all of the money is returned to the funders. Wishberry charges a non-refundable fee of 2500 for their service and a commission of 10% on the funds raised through them.

We recently got the opportunity to interview Sahil Tewari on behalf of the Digifire readers. Let’s see what he has to say.

Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.

I started off with code and development early on in highschool – trying my hands on UI/UX, shell scripting, server management, php and pearl. This resulted in me developing an online tool that lets users create 3d modulations of guitars, called GuitarShop. After working on that I was a part of a development agency for 3 years, freelanced with Amazon for a while and then decided to focus on a product centric environment, which is where Wishberry came into picture.

When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

Since the beginning I wanted to develop something that truly created an impact, and I always wanted to come up with solutions for problems. I realized that being in a startup driven environment lets you do that with a lot more ease in comparison to large corporations where other aspects cloud the primary value system that they begin with.

What were the early days at Wishberry like?

I joined Wishberry in June last year and the first couple of months were all about discussions with the founders on the new vision for the company’s technology and how they can be translated into the product. We’ve been working on setting up an in-house team for technology. At the same time, I’ve been working on revamping the product and coming up with features that would be unique to Wishberry.

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

So usually my day begins at around 10.30 am where I come in and start right off with code, I prefer working on code towards 2 thirds of the day. The rest is left for discussions and making sure we stay on track as per our plan for the new product launch.

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

Until now we have been using a LAMP stack with a WordPress themed front end hosted on AWS. But, we are currently creating a stack that consists of an angularJS frontend and JSON API to interact with the php backend. The reason we’ve made such a dramatic architectural change is to make the system more modular and sustain high traffic and constant engagement. This also allows us to create distinct frontend and backend modules.

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

A lot of Wishberrry’s interaction is dependent on the UI/UX features available to the campaigners and backers, allowing real time engagement. This makes me confident of using angularJS for the ease of implementation and giving the users the smoothest flow within the product.

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

We have used analytics in a big way to gather insights from the current version of Wishberry, allowing us to focus on cross engagement between backers and campaigners. We’re also using it to simplify the process of creating, managing and getting the campaigns funded eventually. We have used analytics to understand what features could be killed and what features could be of benefit.

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

Our primary goal with this version is to create a culture of cross engagement between backers and creators, this would basically translate in backers knowing how their funds are being used, asking questions to the campaigners, getting regularly notified about any activity that takes place within the campaign itself, and a bunch of other features that we would roll out soon.

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

Wishberry has been running very well since the past couple of years and we’ve developed a very large database. Therefore, the biggest challenge for me was to match the new architecture to the old database structure, since a lot of the database access will be a combination of MySql and NoSql.

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

I would look out for candidates that not only have a specialization in particular technologies used in our stack but also have an inclination to learn other languages. I would also look for passion towards development and being part of the product life cycle. One of the most important things, I think, is to come up with solutions, and have a sense of responsibility and ownership towards the task at hand.

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

I am a part of a bunch of tech groups and have subscribed to various channels and blogs that help me get news about the latest happenings. I’m an avid reader and if there is a new technology or framework that seems interesting, I make sure to try my hand at it and make a basic development module on it. I’m also connected to quite a few forums and discussion platforms that let me know about how well or badly a technology is doing and what improvements could be made.

What gets you excited about coming to work every day?

I think the most exciting thing about Wishberry is that we are actually making people’s’ projects and dreams come true as well as making sure that everyone has a shot. I think that transcends any monetary gains and can actually make a long term difference in people’s lives.

What sets Wishberry engineering culture apart?

We are a very enthusiastic bunch of people and I don’t mean just the people associated with technology, we make sure that every idea is welcomed and is brainstormed over. We allow complete ownership of what you are doing and make sure that creative freedom of each individual is respected.

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Which Wishberry value resonates best with you?

A value that resonates with me the most is Focus. The fact that we are focused towards disrupting the way things are done and are making sure every day that all those who deserve it get equally awesome opportunities.

Any piece of advice for the techies out there?

Make sure you are passionate about whatever technology you use or develop on. Focus on making sure that every piece of code is as efficient as it could get is extremely important since it directly translates into your user’s experience of the product. Don’t take any shortcuts – spend time and figure out the best solution.

 

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