Sunday, 24 July 2011

Why I chose working with a startup and why I loved my work here…

This post is written by Atul Goyal, a student of IIIT, Delhi an intern at Mobikwik.

I’m so excited in writing my first blog but hey, considering that it’s my first blog post ever, I’d like to see comments/suggestions from you! :)

Most of us (atleast those who follow Techcrunch, YC news (aka HN), etc.) have been hearing about the startup buzz-word becoming so popular in recent years.
Now, it has been more than 2 months since I joined Mobikwik team as an intern and the internship is almost over, so, I thought I would share my first hand experience of working with a startup so far.

So, here we go,….

Allow me to start with a brief intro about the startup Mobikwik – which is creating a new platform for mobile services users in India. Mobikwik aims to be the one stop destination for mobile services (voice/data/apps) in India and it includes India’s only “anytime anywhere mobile recharge”, and mobile application store (closed beta launching very soon) to facilitate Indian developers and users with a market platform for mobile apps, plus more interesting stuff on the way.

For me, it all started the day when I saw a mail in my inbox regarding an internship position at a startup from our placement cell officer. With all the excitement of possibility of working in a startup (Did I mention yet that I’m a die hard startup culture fan <3), I prepared my CV and replied back. 3-4 Days and I got a mail from Upasana Ma’am (Founder of Zaakpay) asking me to get ready for a phone interview!!! The interview mostly was to know about my technical knowledge and skills (may be more, but I was too excited to think about anything else other than I’m, possibly, going to work in a startup!) Guess the interview went well enough that by the end of the interview, I was kind of confident that I’ll make it, and yes to my luck, I was (almost!) selected.

Though I had joined Zaakpay as an intern, but on the first day itself, we – Bipin (Founder CEO of Mobikwik), Upasana (Founder of Zaakpay, who took my interview)  and me – had a small discussion about my opinion/views on both Zaakpay and Mobikwik (seriously, it was still my interview going on!!), where I conveyed my thoughts and a few things about Mobikwik/Zaakpay (actually Zaakpay and Mobikwik have many things in common, and are very close to each other). During the discussion itself, I realized that Mobikwik suits my intersts better and moreover, the work here is hopefully going to be more challenging and interesting. So, they allowed me to choose either of Zaakpay and Mobikwik whichever I wanted to intern with, and with toss of a coin (ok jk :P ) , I chose Mobikwik.

Two months were long enough to allow me to get my hands dirty on lots of things but mainly what I have worked on, is:

  • developed a mobile version (lightweight version suitable for mobile devices) of the Mobikwik website from scratch, my work included design as well as development of the same. The size of all the pages of mobile website combined (including all the css,js,etc files) is way less than 1/10 the size of just home page of Mobikwik main website as of now! ) I hope the experience of mobile user of Mobikwik will be seamless and smooth. This is planned to be made live with the application store closed beta launch.
  • Since most of our backend is in java (Struts, jsp), and seniors at Mobikwik were planning to use “JForum” for Mobikwik forum, so I had a lil hard time convincing them that phpbb3 is the way to go! I explored it more and more, and started customizing it, adding sections and experimenting with UI. As with mobile website, we hope to have forum launched as well around the closed beta launch of the app store.
  • Now, one of the most important part i.e., the security (from app developer’s perspective) of the apps distributed to users via Mobikwik. Since piracy, as we all know, is already a big problem everywhere and no less in India, so, we’ve planned to give developers even more control over the apps developed by them, than even Android official marketplace provides. Developers can be more assured that their apps won’t be pirated by users and in the worst case if piracy happens for an app they’ve control to disable all the pirated apps right from their dashboard! This security part involved lots of research, experimentation, and discussions among the CEO, the tech-lead and myself. I’ve been working on Android and Blackberry solutions for containing piracy.

Though there are countless reasons because of which I loved working with this team but most important of those are, Firstly the team members are so cool people that right from the first day I was almost like I’ve been knowing these guys since long long time! Before I joined as intern, there were just 4 persons in total in the team! yes, that’s true just 4- the founder, tech lead, VP Operations, VP Business Development, and then me the intern!  working in a small team was just an awesome experience in itself, and actually that IMHO is the best part of working in a startup. Later one more person was hired for marketing operations.

The best thing I liked working in a startup is the flexibility and freedom present here. It was never like I was given some hard specifications under which I had to work, I could chose to do things my own way, could come up with something which I wanted to do, but of-course with proper justification in our frequent group meetings. There were always choices available to do and most importantly all of which were as interesting as I could imagine! Got so many new and interesting things to learn and experiment on. Not just that, with the team, I attended so many awesome startup events which, for me, were eye-opener as far as the activeness of Indian entrepreneurs and startups community was concerned. Really, lots of interesting stuff going on, out there!

Being from a li’l research background, and now having done internship in a startup has changed a lot in life, and it definitely made me think deeper on what I want to do in life and to set the priorities accordingly. There are still some clouds of confusions, but hopefully everything will be clear like a bright sunny day soon.

Ok, back to finishing the internship work, the date of closed-beta launch of application store is also approaching fast! Excited! :)

As I said, Feedback on this post is most welcome :)


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Have a mobile app to sell? Get on Board!

Mobikwik is going through an exciting period in its quest to become India’s number one non-carrier destination for mobile services. It is something along the lines of the presentation that Bipin made at Mobile Camp in May 2011. For those of you who missed it, here’s the ppt on slideshare -

Regardless to say, its a daunting exercise and it has taken us some serious product development to get here. However, there is still some time left (in weeks) before we launch a closed Beta.  At this stage, we are inviting mobile app developers who have a mobile app to sell for any of these platforms – Java/Android/Blackberry to be part of our closed Beta.

What are the benefits of being part of our closed Beta ?

1) Participate in the most exciting and independent new initiative in mobile app space in India. Your feedback will be critical to making it the best app store product ever!

2) Your apps will get early and wide exposure to Mobikwik’s highly engaged customer base . ( and to google*)

3) Your apps will be part of our first marketing kit for the mobikwik app store.

4) Zero registration fees to start selling via mobikwik app store.

Sounds Exciting? Just email to bipin AT mobikwik DOT com and get on board.

* Ping us to know more about this.

May 2011

Friday, 13 May 2011

Mobikwik Recharge API now on the programmable web!

Mobikwik.com is the first and only online recharge service provider to openly publish a free mobile Recharge API*. The quality of our API has now been endorsed by the programmable web, the largest API directory on the web. Mobikwik API is now officially published by the programmable web. It is one of the rare API’s published by PW for any Indian website.

We have all along maintained that Mobikwik API is the simplest solution to set up your own mobile recharge website or widget. With documentation running into < 5 pages, the RESTful API with XML formatted responses can help you complete integration in a matter of days.

The link to Mobikwik API is simple : http://blog.mobikwik.com/api

*Note that in order to prevent spam and prevent unauthorized use cases, we explicitly provide permission to API users. If you’ve integrated the API, you need to send us a API approval request at supportATmobikwikDOTcom

March 2011

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Holi Kab Hai? Kab Hai Holi? (When is Holi? When is it?)

Holi – the festival of colors. The day Gabbar Singh came face to face with Basanti, Jai, Veeru and Thakur in Sholay. The day Amitabh romanced Rekha with “Rang Barse” in front of his wife. The day intoxication gets desi-fied with bhaang kulfis. The day you can throw water balloons on anyone. The day red, orange, pink, yellow are the faces of everyone you meet.

It so happens that in 2011, Holi is also the day you can call your friends and families without worrying about how much it will cost. Because mobikwik.com is offering 10% straight discount* on all mobile recharges on 19th March**. Yes, across all operators and across all denominations.

* 10% discount coupon on total value recharged on 19th March, 2011 will be emailed to your registered mobikwik email address on 20th March, 2011. Know more about Mobikwik Discount Coupons.

** In 2011, most people are celebrating small holi on 19th March and big Holi on 20th March.