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Building a customer-centric organisation: Kavin Bharati Mittal, Founder & CEO

Building a customer-centric organisation: The hike in the Unicorn world

Kavin Bharati Mittal, Founder & CEO, Hike Messenger in conversation with Syna Dehnugara, Features Editor, CNBC TV 18

The latest entrant in the coveted club of Unicorns, Hike was founded in 2012. Most interestingly, the first set of customers were from Germany and Middle-East. Kavin explained to us, at that time Hike had a 128-bit encryption, a not-so-common feature those days, and Germans being a stickler for security absolutely lapped up the idea. It became consumer-centric in a completely different part of the world.

To be able to build a sound product for India, one has to gather a deep understanding of consumer behaviour. As Kavin says, that is exactly where Hike scores very high and is able to hold its own even globally. The Indian consumers’ needs are very specific and has to be catered to in accordance. He gave an example. Smartphones in India are a shared device and even children have access to elders’ phones. Hike understands this peculiar trait, and has built chat features which can keep conversations hidden.  

Despite all the media coverage coupled with very high expectations, Kavin is never under stress. He is most excited about how the business can accelerate and double or even treble the number of active users. The Unicorn continues to raise the bar and create differentiation in messaging. There’s much talk about AI and Machine Learning, and Hike is not to be left behind. It has a repository of 10 k stickers and prompts the user based on past usage and various other parameters, made possible through AI and Machine Learning technologies.

Kavin says, very soon apps will become like any another phonebook contact and unless there is clear distinction, dormancy will set in. The avowed growth in number of users would also depend how fast the market expands in the next few years. Typically the target audience is within the age group of 15 – 24. The next 2 – 3 years will be spent in building a phenomenal product. The value chain components are: Suppliers, distributors and consumers. The path to monetization could entail the time-tested model of vertical integration, where Hike controls both the supplier and distribution network to optimise on scale, but right now the focus is on the consumer and build an incredible product. 

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