Interview with Prashant Mahajan, Co-Founder at Baggout

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One thing that we all love to do is to shop. And in today’s busy world, online shopping provides the convenience of buying stuff from the comfort of our homes and also helps in saving time and money. But along with all the pros of online shopping there comes a big discomfort as well. This is the difficulty of selecting a product from an ever increasing list of portals selling the same product and searching through a number of websites to find a product at the best price. This situation has given birth to Baggout.

Baggout is a portal that is making online shopping a much smoother and hassle free experience for its users. It does so by collaborating with over 500+ online stores and providing the option of browsing through the products from all these retailers on a single platform. The Delhi-based company was founded in the year 2012 by IIT Roorkee Alumnus, Deepak Jain, and his school friend, Prashant Mahajan who was serving as a technical architect at Scholastic. The users can even apply any coupons that might be applicable on the retailer’s website.

Here is a small interview with Prashant Mahajan, the Co-Founder of the company.

Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.

I started working for an IT Services company in Noida India. After 3 years of working there, I moved to Boston, where I started working for a Human Resource Technology company. During my stay in Boston – I built a Big Database from the scratch and was doing pretty good there, however India being my homeland, was always the country where I wanted to be. Thus me and Deepak started Baggout (shopaholic at that time) in the last quarter of 2012. I quit my job in US and moved back to India permanently for Baggout in Feb 2013.

When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

While in Boston, a good friend of mine used to live at Harvard University campus. We, along with a couple of other students from Harvard, started a company in the campus. The company didn’t work and I failed miserably in my first attempt, however, I knew that this is what I am going to do. This was early 2010.

What were the early days at Baggout like?

Initial days were pretty awesome – we had a lot of discussions about a number of ideas. Every aspect of business was wide open to explore. Another good thing about our early days was that we got a lot of encouragement from everyone, which kept us going forward. We didn’t taste any success for the entire first year, but together we were always very happy with all the ups and downs that we saw. The funniest thing with our first working place was that there wasn’t any washroom there – so we used to go to a nearby hospital whenever there was a need and the best place for discussions were community parks :D. It made us appreciate and realize how many free resources are provided to us without asking or complaining.

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

Our day starts with planning the work ahead and then the execution starts for the full day. All the meetings, if need, start and end in the mornings, so that the rest of the day can be tangibly productive.

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

We are using SOA, with mostly Java as the backend with Lucene, Redis, MongoDB, MySQL, Spring, Hibernate, etc. as DBs or frameworks. We are using REST based web services for our backend. Frontend being in Backbone and Underscore or Android for our App.

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

Scala and R are the ones that we may use to develop the next few features.

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

We track practically everything that the user does – based on this understanding our team has written a lot of rules. We have written a few systems that run the data-rejection processes and then data acceptance process on the resultset. There are about 1000 rules that our basic data has to go through to appear on the final screen.

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

Honestly, I don’t know – we don’t think of the rivals while deciding a new algorithm. I think what matters is that our technology seems to respond pretty good for our customers, for example, we get ~10000 requests per minute to our servers and our systems responds in 56 milliseconds per request with less than 12% CPU usage, thus customers seem to be happy.

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

Making the product information nearly realtime was a big challenge. It took us a lot of thinking and a lot of smart coding and functional analysis to be able to consume one product from a retailer-> Scale its image-> Categorize it-> Analyze and understand it-> bring it to the top of the screen in less then 5 minutes, when we have 12 Million products and over 40 Million nodes in our system.

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

“Never Say Die” – attitude. Skills can be developed but attitude can’t be trained.

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

Mostly I talk to my friends and find out what they are doing in their respective companies. I am not a big fan of theoretical understanding of anything, least of all technology. It’s the practical usecase of the technology that helps me in understanding the usage and feasibility of it.

What gets you excited about coming to work every day?

My team – when I see them working on real customer problems, the amount of satisfaction that I get is immense and this keeps me excited always.

What sets Baggout engineering culture apart?

It’s a very open culture, yet organized and so much to learn. Everyday we come across a new challenge and it’s the notion of “what next” that keeps us kicking.

Which Baggout value resonates best with you?

Something we really believe in is that ‘Tech is for people and not the other way round’.

Any piece of advice for the techies out there?

Always keep in mind that any technological solution has to help the people around you in a positive way.

 

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