The web is crowded with a number of online shopping websites which offer pretty much the same kind of clothing options. But when you are looking for something unique, trendy and fashionable even this extravagant set of websites don’t suffice for the need. What comes to rescue is a classic, modish and expertly curated online boutique shopping destination, Violet Street.
Violet Street is an online shopping website which offers the experience of exploring and buying from the collections of local boutiques from across the country. The company which was founded by Ankur Gupta and Nayan Kumar in the early 2014 has already become a leading online shopping destination for the modern women looking for the hottest and latest in fashion. Violet Street partners directly with the niche boutique designers, manufacturers and official retailers, thus bringing to you the most exclusive and trendiest of collections from leading labels and some of the best-kept secret boutiques.
Here is an interview with the man behind this fashion startup, Ankur Gupta.
Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.
I joined Microsoft soon after I finished my college where I was a part of Windows8 team. I worked building core libraries for Windows App developers for 2 years. Thereafter, I joined Bing team and worked on official Microsoft Bing Apps like sports, weather etc. for a year. In 2013 I quit my job to travel across India and then started VioletStreet in early 2014.
When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
More than entrepreneurial bug it was ‘do what makes you happy’ bug. Working culture of MNCs is something I never liked. So many brilliant engineers, tied up with processes to think & work in one direction. Similar to a circus’ lion. After attending several startup weekends & meetups, I decided on the path of entreprenuership.
What were the early days at VioletStreet like?
In 2 words, ‘100% occupied’. Me and my co-founder worked 18-20 hours a day continously for 20 days to roll out an MVP. After 10-15 days of focus group feedback cycle, we went back to 18-hour work cycle for next 2 months to roll out our beta product, with 8 new partners. We were using AWS free tier services and were paying only for outsourced fashion expertise.
Can you please describe what a typical day at office is like?
My usual day at office comprises of –
Getting updates on slack channels on KPIs for each section of business;
Basic testing of website and app;
Solving people problems in operations;
Making single effort to reduce loadtime; and
Emails, Partnership calls etc.
Can you tell us about the technology stack used at VioletStreet?
We are using Ruby on Rails and nginx server hosted on auto scaled AWS. For efficieny and better segmentation, we are using Cloudfront, SES, SQS, S3, lambda etc. In frontend, we are using simple jquery and twitter bootstrap.
Is there any technology that you’re personally betting on to help you scale up?
Contextual language text translator is the technology that I’m looking forward to. Presently, we need context, with strings we used for it, to get translated into another language, which is kind of a manual job. With contextual language translator, VioletStreet will be accessible in any language which results in more business.
How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company?
We are using BI for 2 major funnels, Engangement & Sales. We use ptengine heatmaps and mixpanel advanced analytics for the same.
How else does technology help your company stand apart from its rivals?
Our virtual 3-d measurement tool sets us apart from the competitors. Moreover, 90% of our operations are automated via in house technology, be it vendor management, order management or delivery partners management.
What has been the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced while running VioletStreet?
No challenges so far. But yet, only challenge (and opportunity) too, I see is building and integrating virtual fitting room, where user will upload her image and she can see how a particular garment looks on her from all the angels. There has been gaga about this since 10 years but no good solution as of now.
What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?
‘Quick learner having problem solving skills with maximum efficiency and minimum error’. I believe if one has this trait, not only he can be good technical guy but would be great in any field or scenario. Moreover, person with this skill can learn any language pretty easily.
How do you keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world?
I keep reading about startups and have subscribed to multiple technology newsletters.
What gets you excited about coming to work every day?
To solve problems, not only in tech but in other sectors of the company and making people more efficient via processes or conduct is something that keeps me excited everyday.
What sets VioletStreet engineering culture apart?
Freethinking culture is what sets us apart. Anyone can suggest and implement his feature for A/B testing; if either of two, engagement or sales, improve, the code gets added to the production server and person gets rewarded.
Which VioletStreet value resonates best with you?
VioletStreet exclusive offering resonates well with everyone in the team. How I see is that each team member has an exclusive talent of managing multiple things together and yet feel refreshed at the end of the day. This is not common in MNCs culture.
Any piece of advice for techies out there?
Focus on algorithms and not on languages. Languages will come and go. Logic will prevail.