Nikhil's Blog


Final Post

posted 10 Mar 2016, 09:20 by Nikhil Venkatesh

It's been an incredible journey through these 4 months. There were a lot of ups and downs. But the major thing was that we stuck together and we are still sticking together. This is crucial to any startup and future minor endeavors. It's important to remain as a unit and face all the challenges together whatever it might be. Keep your company vision and mission in mind at all times and work towards achieving that. 

To list down our most difficult times:
  1. External Factors: ACRA and Domain Registration which usually take almost no time took us forever to sort out.
  2. Mismatched timelines: It's important to remember that you're at the end of the day just students and as students you are definitely going to have different timelines and deadlines. These are factors that you will realize after it's too late.
  3. Like one of the other groups quoted at the presentation - whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. So instead of trying to mitigate these problems from the beginning try to improvise if you face any problems. The skill is in dealing with a problem.
  4. Motivation Levels: Ensure that you trust your team enough for them to motivate you themselves because I am 100% sure team members will fall in and out love of the idea at different times. 
Anyway, these are issues I'm sure the other teams faced as well and these are things everyone has to watch out for. 

Be aware that this isn't the end to our journey. We will be launching by the Summer of this year. So keep a wary eye for us. Because the TripBuddy Storm is coming soon to NTU!


e-commerce Talk at Innovation Centre

posted 8 Mar 2016, 21:40 by Nikhil Venkatesh

I attended the talk hosted by NTU Entrepreneurship society at the Innovation Center yesterday and learnt a few interesting points. The speakers were Dany Bolduc - Lecturer, Entrepreneur and Executive, Daniel Thong - Country Manager at ServisHero and Isaac Timothy Tay - Co-Founder at HonestBee. The speakers gave some interesting insights in the world of e-commerce. Some of the important lessons learnt were to always stay close to the business aspect of a startup. It's very important to increase revenues as much as possible. At the same time, in an e-commerce setup it's vital to dominate a local market first before expanding to other places. The core strength in the expansion comes from the domination in the local market. Isaac gave some insights into the lessons he learnt while being part of HonestBee. One of the most important lessons or factors he had to consider was the Net Promoter Score which is a measure of Customer Feedback. He couldn't stress enough on the vitality of customer feedback.

I learnt a lot through the session and hope to use their learnings in my venture. Until next time!

Showcase

posted 8 Mar 2016, 21:28 by Nikhil Venkatesh

So we've been preparing for the Business Showcase presentation the past couple of days and have come up with something to present. The major issue we've faced so far has been with the ACRA site being down. It's been almost a month since we applied for Private Limited Company on their site and we can't launch without registering as a company. The reason being that our entire privacy policy and terms of service depend on the company being registered. Even though Ben asked members from ACRA to help us out, we haven't had any luck.

However, that being said, I can't say that we haven't achieved anything over the past 4 months. We conducted extensive market research by organizing our offline trips in the beginning month. We even managed to make a slight profit on one of the trips where we piloted collecting the money in advance. 

The next steps for us would be launch after settle every issue. Hopefully all goes well in the coming months for TripBuddy!    

Beta Site

posted 10 Feb 2016, 06:31 by Nikhil Venkatesh   [ updated 13 Feb 2016, 22:12 ]

Our pre-launch site is now live at www.tripbuddy.xyz. This will be used as a testing platform to conduct all necessary tests before deploying in a week and a half. The spirit is coming back to the TripBuddy team after a slow start to the semester. We're having weekly skype meetings on Mondays to discuss our week's efforts.

Ernest is working on the marketing materials including videos and email templates. Ben and Bobby are setting up the company.

From the tech side, the big news is the pre-launch of the site. We're eagerly awaiting the launch of the platform.

Speaker Series

posted 31 Jan 2016, 22:19 by Nikhil Venkatesh

In the process, I've attended the first MiE speaker series session hosted by NTU Share, Debate Society and MiE. The speakers were Robert Baskerville, Executive Director from JP Morgan Chase, Melvin Tan, CEO of the equal assets group, Yash Shah, from the Synpulse Management Consulting, Jon Tse, Head of Digital Zookal, and Wee Kee Chia from Synpulse Management Consulting as well. The talk was mainly focused on the role of technology in today's service industry.

There were a lot of interesting insights into the role of technology and adopting to any advancements. One interesting point was about Nokia and how they stuck to the Symbian OS and never migrated to the newly growing OS' which backfired on them.

Will keep you updated on any more developments. 

The New Semester Begins

posted 31 Jan 2016, 22:06 by Nikhil Venkatesh

We've got a lot of work this semester. As for the dev side, I've managed to get my hands on the beta version of stripe Singapore and that is going to be used as our payment engine. Suyash has spent a lot of time making the website's front end as mobile friendly as possible, so it's cross compatible. This would help our future migrations to dedicated mobile platforms including android and ios apps. We've updated the dependencies to get rid of all possible deprecations. Now the major task left is to deploy and test. We've updated the launch date to 20 days from now. The coming soon site is now live at www.tripbuddy.sg

Ernest is working on the marketing materials to be used. He is also trying to get OGEM to collaborate with us in order to boost our initial intake.

We've hit a few barriers during the dev  phase. Everyone had become busy with STARS registration during the add/drop period. Our product was "okay" for deployment but a little buggy. But if we were going to do this right, we needed to get a fully functional ready product out to the customers rather than try and meet the timeline. Hence, we pushed the deadline to a few days later which we hope doesn't cost us too much compared against customer satisfaction. 

The Alpha Product

posted 25 Dec 2015, 05:48 by Nikhil Venkatesh

The past two and a half weeks have just been code, code and code. In order to get the site up and running we've had to put in a lot of effort from the tech side. We have our alpha product up and running now and it is going through a series of test runs. We've made our own team members(who were not part of the tech team), test it out, and give suggestions to us. Ernest gave us some valuable inputs for redesigning the site. Overall we're quite happy with the look and feel of the current product. There are a few bugs that have to be weeded out before deployment. I will update once we have a prototype up and running on the world wide web.

On another note, we're making ready the legal documents for registering our company. We have a few catches there, as three of our members are international students including me, making only Ben and Ernest suitable for applying. Overall, things are going quite smoothly at TripBuddySG now. We hope to launch before the start of sem, thus inviting the new-coming exchange folks onto the platform.

Will keep you guys updated from the dev side when we have more progress. Till then, see you!

Deal with the Code

posted 9 Dec 2015, 00:22 by Nikhil Venkatesh

Now that I'm done with exams it is time to resume operations. The tech development is underway. We're exploring our options and planning it all out carefully. The agenda for this month is mainly going to be us (Suyash, Bobby and I) dealing with code and the bugs that our code brings. It's going to take some time, but tech development is quite interesting and we hope to finish this as soon as possible. Our target date is 1 Jan, but quite a significant amount of testing is also required and hence, we estimate it'll be completely ready by the beginning of next sem. We also have a contingency plan in place in case of any mishaps. 

The YSE application has been submitted along with the 3 page business idea description and the BMC. The result of the application will be known by mid of Jan. So we're waiting for those results as well. 

That's pretty much what happened since the last post. Most of us were busy with exams and couldn't do much. Alright, time to get back to work. 

Initial Steps Forward

posted 9 Nov 2015, 01:06 by Nikhil Venkatesh

A lot has happened since the business plan presentation. We attended the Young Social Entrepreneurs talk in NTC. The idea of a social enterprise is something that we intended to do from the very beginning and this was the perfect opportunity for us. Hence, we attended the one hour talk. The YSE programme offers us several benefits in addition to the 20000 dollars that we stand to win. What struck me most was the international exposure it gives us and also mentor-ship provided. We decided to take part in the competition for the benefits it offered.

We have also completed our two offline trips over the past weekend. The offline trips were used to test the nature of exchange students and their responses to different approaches for the trip. We found that they find it better to pay ahead of time and then enjoy the trip than to pay it off later.

For the tech development, we came up with the detailed timeline from now till the end of December as to what to do at each step. Things should hopefully go well. Till next time!

businessPlan = true;

posted 25 Oct 2015, 22:01 by Nikhil Venkatesh

So this past Saturday we were done with our business plan and our presentation. All things went good and student feedback and prof feedback were put up. All the presentations were quite good and I had several opinions on them which are now listed in the feedback page.

The prof commented on several parts of our plan and gave some interesting suggestions. As for the website, he liked the current design and suggested adding a limited refund policy for badly reviewed TripCreators. It was an interesting proposition and something we will definitely consider including in our service flow.

From the tech side, the tech team will meet up, plan how we're going to go about development and implement development starting right from this week. Hopefully, the tech side can stay on time with the ops plan and develop our entire platform as soon as possible.

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