Last week, the Shoptalk and Groceryshop management team (Anil, Simran, Zia and Caroline) embarked on an 8,000 mile journey to Pune to spend the week with our rapidly expanding engineering team. Pune is one of India’s fastest growing tech hubs, and an incredibly livable and green city. It’s not every day that you can say you’ve been to India during the monsoon season, and the trek to Pune was no small feat.
Time definitely flies when you’re having fun–almost two years ago, we co-founded a new tech company in Pune called Personatech that allows us to bring retail industry professionals together in entirely new ways at our events. We believe that a digital platform is paramount to bringing the right people together, at the right time, for the right conversations and interactions. The team in Pune is at the heart of everything we do at Shoptalk and Groceryshop–and soon to be launched Retail Club.
Led by Nishant Ram, our Pune team has been charged with designing and building the software that powers Shoptalk and Groceryshop. The dreamers, thinkers and changemakers on the business side work directly with our Pune-based engineers to execute our outside-the-box vision for how technology can revolutionize in-person events. Our engineers are the unsung heroes that make everything come to life.
Outside of eating incredible amounts of butter chicken and garlic naan, here’s how the four of us spent the week with our engineering team, and some of what we worked on during our time in Pune:
- Creating a database model to truly personalize the on-site experience. All of our tech-enabled programs and experiences rely on a carefully defined database model that allows us to manage everything you need to facilitate face-to-face interactions for retail professionals. So, we continued an already year-long conversation to refine the data model with our Pune team on this trip.
- Developing our own registration system. There are a hundred off-the-shelf registration and ticketing systems for events–so why are we building our own? Because none were designed to create the seamless and personalized experience that we want to deliver from the get-go. The beta version goes live this fall for Shoptalk 2020.
- Designing our own mobile app. We’ve traditionally used the same event apps as everyone else–but that’s just not good enough. The one-size-fits-all functionality doesn’t allow for a personalized mobile experience that streamlines the onsite experience and addresses attendees’ pain points during the event. Our app developers are working to provide groundbreaking options that enable attendees to easily navigate the growing number of experiences at our events.
- Continuing to optimize our Hosted Retailers & Brands Program and Tabletalks. Last year, our Hosted Program generated more than 10,000 curated one-on-one meetings at Shoptalk and Groceryshop, making us accomplished retail matchmakers. We’re building complex workflows and algorithms that create incredibly personalized, meaningful and relevant connections as part of this program. These capabilities are also being deployed for Tabletalks where we match groups of attendees from retailers and brands with peers to discuss the most pressing topics in their businesses.
- Educating our engineering team to ensure we build technology with the retail industry in mind. While in Pune, we presented an overview of the retail industry to the engineering team to provide them with context for our events. We–and they–believe it’s important for the tech team to have an understanding of the industry we cover in order to propose requirements and solutions that best meet the needs of all our stakeholders–from attendees and speakers to sponsors and exhibitors.
- Building out new Pune office space. In addition to building technology, we’re also building a new office space in Pune. With space for about 40 people, these state-of-the-art facilities look like they’re right out of NYC or Silicon Valley. Until then, we took over the Conrad in Pune–our home away from home!
- Supporting the community. Finally, with our deeply engaged team in Pune, we feel it’s important to get involved with the local community. We spent one morning visiting the Matoshri English Medium School, a lottery-based K-10 English-language school serving the local community. With painted motivational quotes throughout the hallways (“Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy,” “United we stand, divided we fall,” and our personal favorite, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry”), the school takes in hundreds of students. Our management team is currently supporting a number of students’ educational costs at the school and extensively expanding our support of the program.
Until next time…and we’re accepting applications if you’re interested in joining our dynamic Pune team!