First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Nikhil Gupta: So far, everything & everyone is fine. Survival is Human tendency, so we all are adapting to new norms.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Hipster.
Nikhil Gupta: At Hipster, I am our Co-founder and CEO and here is a mini-story about how it all started at Hipster. I being from Computer Science and programmer background, while I was working on Epicurio and Barterli products, a few of his friends approached me for tech help. I helped them in the weekends for building product, but soon requests were more than what could have been a sidekick, so I along with my co-founder and Bok Thye Boon decided to start Hipster as a full-time company.
One quote I remind myself every day – In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. — Theodore Roosevelt
One greatest success of Hipster is the quality work and having the background of startup products. With such knowledge, Hipster managed to successfully create products with many clients, and 90% of their customers become recurring and have worked with Hipster for years. An example is one of their client’s products – Tueetor app, which Hipster revamped and redeveloped got awarded as Asia Smart app in Hong Kong WTIA in 2019.
Both Nikhil and Bok shared a vision for Hipster is to launch and build some of the coolest products on their own in the future and help their partners to launch theirs as well! Business challenges are just opportunities in disguise. Let’s take them down together with Hipster.
How does Hipster innovate?
Nikhil Gupta: We are self-learners, every month, we try a few things which we never did before. During lockdown due to Corona Virus, We innovated the software for our customers – Education using Live Stream. Virtual Event management software. We started integrating readily available SDK like zoom and Webex, and soon we built our own live streaming using Amazon Web Services components. We changed the entire software from physical event to a virtual event within a week. In Software business, we think from user’s point of view, and we believe innovation is as important as reusing what is already available. We have been adopting new technologies for our existing products and evaluating.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Nikhil Gupta: Our main customers come from Event Management and education industry since pandemic affected those two industries badly, we tried to innovate and find new ways to adapt to this new norm. First few months were tough, but we continued what we do best – Finding the path to survival. We digitalized all aspects and adapted live streaming in our customer’s products and their operations. Many of our customers went online and digitalized operations.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Nikhil Gupta: We did not lay off anyone since we never overhired, People resisting to change were encouraged to follow suit and work pragmatically based on transformations required within the team and on different levels – mental and technical aspects. Change management is a sensitive topic. People know they need it, but it also takes effort before results are visible. It was tough to work from home and collaborating with everyone in different timezones.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Nikhil Gupta: It was allowed to go out for exercise in Singapore. I have my own ways on long cycling before/during/after alone. If I need expert advice, its best to spend time alone in an activity that I love.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Nikhil Gupta: Our model is software planning development for business where we emphasize more on planning that development. Our planning includes many aspects like increasing revenue, increasing productivity, reducing manpower, scalability and expansion of business, automation in operations etc. We plan based on that parameters rather than simply developing a solution – which makes us stand out. Moreover, before we started our service business, we had started a few product startups before we started services that also makes us think from a company’s point of view and we put ourselves in their shoes.
Your final thoughts?
Nikhil Gupta: We try new things and take risks- learn, evolve and try new. We value failure as much as success.