Homegrown innovation key to digital boom | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 14, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, May 14, 2019

Homegrown innovation key to digital boom

Flipkart’s former CTO Ravi Garikipati says

Solving local problems using homegrown innovations will be key to pulling off major business successes in the digital industry, said a top e-ecommerce expert in the region.

“Companies will have to focus on localising innovations. Only then they can go beyond their expectations,” said Ravi Garikipati, the immediate past chief technology officer of India’s e-commerce unicorn Flipkart.

He says companies need to have deeper understanding of their customer base and in this case the keys would be localising innovation.

“Copying past services will not help companies grow and get enough business,” Garikipati told The Daily Star in an interview in Dhaka recently.

Garikipati, a technologist and entrepreneur with extensive experience of starting innovative companies in Silicon Valley and India, recently joined one of Bangladesh’s fastest growing technology startup, Shohoz.

He recently visited Dhaka to join an interactive session with local technology entrepreneurs and IT professionals, where he was introduced as the board director of Shohoz.

Garikipati said Bangladesh was moving forward to create a digital ecosystem and the digital business has started flourishing.

Bangladesh has a lot of potential and the investor community is also looking at it as a very important market, he said.

While at Flipkart, Garikipati shaped and executed the technology vision of the company, scaling up e-commerce across India. He also founded and led Flipkart’s fin-tech vertical with a mission to drive financial inclusion through data and technology.

Walmart has recently acquired 77 percent share of Bengaluru-based Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce unicorn with a current valuation of $22 billion.

Garikipati has vast experience of working with the information communication technology industry for the last three decades and had worked at IBM and Oracle for more than a decade.

He says adoption of and understanding the digital ecosystem would be much stronger in the coming days and a lot of investment would be required. And this will help both the public and private sectors.

“The penetration of 4G and smartphone with reliable internet is also necessary.” He also touched upon data privacy.

“Data privacy and policy needs to become stronger and consumer-friendly and certain transparency needs to be ensured.”

“Companies will have to take the responsibility to protect users’ data from vulnerabilities such as hacking. That’s why companies are investing a lot of time and efforts in protecting users’ data.”

About joining Shohoz, Garikipati says Bangladesh was currently enjoying demographic dividend and the youth were very entrepreneurial.

The government of Bangladesh understands the importance of digital business and steps it took in this regard has led to more and more public and private sector entities engaging in collaborations.

“I see the entire Bangladesh is waking up.”

Garikipati says a significant portion of Bangladesh’s population was connected to the internet and using smartphones. “This is a very powerful strength of the market.”

He says the government should be proactive instead of being reactive and regulators should not regulate the industry with a blind eye.

About the potential of Shohoz’s ride-sharing business, Garikipati says definitely the ride-hailing service has a bright future.

On the potential of food delivery business, he says the city was very populous and there was immense traffic congestion. In the busy city life, people do not have enough time to spend in kitchens.

“So, there is scope for this type of business to thrive in Bangladesh, like it happened in India.”

Garikipati suggested young entrepreneurs focus on the digital ecosystem to get business success.

“The service level needs to be at much higher level and with the right ecosystem they need to create a strong service delivery channel.”

He solicited partnerships between digital business entrepreneurs and broadband companies to pull off a business success.

According to Garikipati, access to capital was not a problem to make a digital business venture successful and young people have the drive to come up with very unique problem-solving solutions.

“Some of the young entrepreneurs have that aspiration and other stuffs, but they need more mentorship and experience to make their idea a successful business case.”

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