I had the pleasure to discover a really good podcast with one of our customers, I hope you will like it.
In today’s podcast, we are really honored to introduce you to our guest who is from UAE and building technology & product for one of the fastest growing travel websites, which is UAE’s first full-service travel e-commerce website. And he is Albert Dias. Albert is currently playing his role as Co-founder & CTO at Musafir.com.
Musafir.com is an Internet-based travel agency, based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates and Mumbai, India. Musafir was the UAE’s first full-service travel e-commerce website, launched in 2007 which is also considered as one of the fastest growing travel websites in India. Musafir.com dedicated to providing an inspiring and premium travel experience.
Albert is an e-commerce specialist, he is an expert in scaling technology and building great products with a focus on delivering seamless user experiences. Albert has managed the whole life-cycle of innovation from Ideation to Implementation to Commercialization; he built and managed Product and engineering teams in various cutting-edge technologies at Musafir.com. Prior to co-founding Musafir, Albert delivered rich online user experiences for Proximity and before that Albert was Technical Strategist at Wunderman Mena.
Albert has done his BSc Computer Engineering, from the American University of Sharjah.
While talking to Albert we had many interesting learnings, here are some of Albert’s wisdom of thoughts:
Albert shared one of the most important learnings of his career in a beautiful small quote as “Impossible was not an option”
For leading technology at startup and especially in its early day you have to be an all-rounder in everything, it just cannot be only about engineering. In fact, in early days of Musafir, Albert described himself in many roles as an Engineer / Manager / Chaiwala ? / Accountant / Office boy and everything where ever he can be needed or can add value.
In the early days of the startup, it’s more about how you can push things forward and keep pushing it fast and with persistence.
In startup a resource person cannot keep himself/herself in one specific role, he has to play roles as per the need for the business.
Role of a CTO: In the early days of a startup, a CTO has to roll up their sleeves and start building the product, and this is not an option this is mandatory. But he should not always get stuck in that kind of role, as the startup grows he should start doing a lot of delegation and he should empower his team in a way where he just acts as an enabler and the team should take care of all the routine activities.
Albert currently engages more on empowering people to do their best, to enable people to do their best, to help team understand what the mission/vision of the company, to make them understand what are the challenges business is facing right now and how it can be resolved with the help of technology, to guide the team and push team to deliver more what they can do best.
In the later stages of the company or when the company is in the growth stage, the role of a CTO becomes more like a visionary to take the company’s technical capability to the next level.
The responsibilities and role of a CTO keep continuously change as the company grows, so a CTO needs to keep upgrade his understanding and knowledge along with the stages of a company. The expectation from a CTO of an early stage company is totally different than the expectation from a growth stage company.
Albert’s currently dedicates his 70% to 75% time in meetings, where he spent his time with all the stakeholders which help in growth of the company in various capacities, also to understand what other people are doing in their units, are they in the right direction, also to understand do they need any help to speed up their work, what lined up next to them and what things they need to be dropped. One of the most important parts of these meetings is to understand, are people working in the direction of the right roadmap. The remaining 30% of the time Albert spent in general management, engagement with various business stakeholders. Also as a co-founder of the company he also needs to spend his time in designing future business strategies, understanding currently financial and accounting and many other important areas which are crucial for the growth of the company.
Currently internet businesses all around the globe facing challenges where they need to decide and differentiate whether they want to be a service provider or an intelligence provider. Currently, most of the internet travel companies are more of a service provider but that focus should need to shift towards becoming an intelligence provider. Here the term intelligence provider means the company should not only provide options and multiple choices to the customer but need to tell them what should be best for them or give them suggestion which they really need at the particular point of time. The intelligent services should act be more of a good travel agent who already knows you and giving you suggestions on where to go and what to do. And that level of personalization needs to bring in current travel and e-commerce industry.
Currently, Musafir.com is based on Microsoft technology stack and using lots of other advanced technologies to deliver the best optimized, personalized and awesome experience to the end users.
To keep updated with the latest technology, Albert tries to keep him updated with all the latest happenings in the industry and in technology space. Also to keep entire teams updated towards the latest and greatest technology Musafir runs two initiative where one is called Innovation Week, where everyone across the various teams shares their challenges and solutions and also share what the latest going on in tech space. Teams also hustle up and build some prototype of new technology with 24 hrs time frame. There is another initiative where the team shared innovative ways which they applied in their day to day routine work to solve the problems. Here we celebrate the success of people who are able to deliver.
Musafir.com is also setting up its new technology centre in Pune India and this new centre will be completely engineering focused. This is Musafir.com’s third tech centre globally, following one in Mumbai and UAE each. The Pune centre will complement the technology and product teams that are already operating out of the other two centres.
Hiring is one of the hardest things but Albert shared a few important lessons which he applies while hiring:
Hire people to whom you yourself like to work for.
People who can understand and clear thinking about the problem.
The last important thing is skills. Prefer people who are more skilled, rather than more experienced.