A challenge that each of us has to encounter, when planning a holiday, on a budget is that, we only come across high-end hotels making us stretch on our budgets or leading us to cut the trip short. Even if we do find a budget accommodation, then we are doubtful about what kind of services we would actually get. The challenge faced by the demand side or the property owners is that, their property remains oblivious to budget travellers and distribution is not streamlined across online sales channels, hence, leading to lower revenues and higher operational cost. As the travel industry is now more reliant on technology, there are several ventures which are centred around this pain point of travellers and property owners. One such emerging venture is RedDoorz, which is making budget accommodation available for travellers at a great price, standardizing the offerings across the network of properties and delivering a consistent stay experience.
RedDoorz is a Singapore-based budget hotels brand aggregator. The company which was founded by former MakeMyTrip executives Amit Saberwal and Kunwar Asheesh Saxena allows accommodation owners to showcase their offerings through a hyper-responsive platform which enables them to reach out to a larger audience, increase their occupancy levels and also earn a brand name. RedDoorz was founded in July 2015 and is already the fastest growing budget stays brand in South East Asia. The company strives to deliver a consistent experience with quality service to all its guests by adhering to stringent quality check points. They have also received funding from some big names including 500 Startups.
We caught up with Kunwar Asheesh Saxena, the Co-founder & CTO of the company, to know a little more about this accommodation startup.
Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.
I started my professional journey with IT&T and soon after joining, I was deputed to EDS Gulf States as technology consultant. I got engaged with EDS techies from across the globe and this was my first international exposure and foundation of my technology strategist mindset. Post that, I kept on working with cross cultural teams across the globe as technical architect and consultant mostly in travel domain in various companies. Nearly after a decade of rich experience I landed in MakeMyTrip and lead the Hotels technology vertical along with various other roles in technology leadership. Post MMT I joined Knimbus and setup their product development and engineering department from scratch. Finally one day I got a call from Amit and we set up RedDoorz together.
When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
MakeMyTrip has a culture to produce entrepreneurs, slowly and silently during my 5 years of journey, I was infected by this bug too. I left MMT and joined Knimbus to fulfil my entrepreneurial journey, stayed there for a year and finally ended up founding RedDoorz along with Amit. It was my privilege that Amit chose me as a tech co-founder, however, he could have done this with any techie ☺
What were the early days at RedDoorz like?
It was like any other start up, full of rollercoaster rides, one day you are on top of the world and other day you are at the bottom and in deep thinking about solutions to come up against hurdles. But we always had deep confidence in our experience in the hotel domain, in each other and in the team, so we never, even for a bit, came in doubt on the very idea of RedDoorz.
Can you please describe what a typical day at office is like?
So technically we are 24X7 in office, always connected with the system, but we never fall in the trap of always solving things which fall in the urgent and important quadrant, we give plenty of time to plan strategic direction of technology in alignment of business roadmap. So we start morning with analysis of the past day system logs and alerts, I strongly believe 15 minutes logs analysis daily provides massive information about the health of the system and early warnings, every developer checks the logs in the morning religiously and fixes issues. We believe is preventing fire, rather spend time in fire fighting later. Post that we huddle in person or on skype , discuss daily goals, then everybody is on their own tasks and finally in the evening we again huddle and discuss tech issues and status. In between we do at least three team meetings in a week which are strategic in nature, be it feasibility of new technology, discussion of tech architecture or any other strategic point.
Can you tell us about the technology stack used at RedDoorz?
The world has changed a lot in the last two decades. I remember the early days when I used to code in Cobol 77 on main frames, and the journey migrating to early JAVA days, and today everything is cloud. At RedDoorz we follow the open source technologies on cloud. We are on RubyonRails on Heroku cloud, front end in Angular JS, DB on RDS, caching system is Memcached on cloud and ElasticSearch for enterprise search.
Is there any technology that you’re personally betting on to help you scale up?
As of now we are placed good for scaling, but we keep on doing POCs and experiments for better technologies, which could help us in performance improvements. We have few technologies on our radar like react.js, Django, MongoDB etc.
How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company?
We are using two main sources for intelligence generation, Google Analytics and system logs. GA data is straightforward, marketing and product teams are on top of that, second level information comes from logs which we are storing in internal system called MidOffice which is accessible via various reports system throws. In later months we are planning to move to BigData solutions as the system grows.
How else does technology help your company stand apart from its rivals?
Our tech stack and teams both are leaner and faster. We manage to react quickly to the market demands, and are very agile in releasing the solutions.
What has been the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced while running RedDoorz?
Like any other successful startup, the main challenge is releasing deliveries on a faster pace, keeping system intact and on high performance. The releasing rate of new features is so high that the team gets very less time to optimize the system, but we are able to strike the balance impressively.
What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?
From my own experience I can tell that the technology service consulting and startups are two different worlds. The techies should find out what excites them, startup is like a marriage between technology and business, you have to solve daily problems and move ahead strategically too. So one needs to wear the company hat, get engaged with the company vision, and take ownership of his own piece of code. Along with that, one should be ready for multi tasking (in actual terms it is exactly like processors’ intelligent time-slicing), be ambitious and must have the desire to be the best in his respective technology area.
How do you keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world?
We are a part of a strong techie network, engaged in forums, reading technology blogs regularly and POCs are part of our tech culture.
What gets you excited about coming to work every day?
We are solving at least one good problem daily, be it business or tech. This boosts our confidence and keeps us excited for the next day. Everyday is a new day for us with loads of opportunities.
What sets RedDoorz engineering culture apart?
We have a commitment strategy to build the best product in the market, we believe in smaller but regular wins, as a rule we spend less time in fire fighting and good amount of time is strategic designs maintaining speedy deliveries, and we do all this by maintaining Fun at Work ☺
Which RedDoorz value resonates best with you?
We started RedDoorz to solve one big problem in hotel domain, to provide budget travellers standardized services at a competitive price. Solving customers’ and property owners’ problems and provide win-win situation to both is in our heart. This fundamental value keeps me awake, thinking and trying to build solutions around.
Any piece of advice for the techies out there?
As I mentioned above, find yourself in the right story and once you know you are placed right, try to be the best in your technology domain. Make sure you love to work in the story you are in, keep doing experiments with your tech stack, be connected to the technology network and keep solving real life problems.