The Taxi Wars

The spat that’s making the headlines

The last few weeks have seen a very interesting debate between Ola and Uber, with Meru pitching in against Uber as well. Both debates, of Uber and the country’s law and that of it being a foreign company are pertinent to address. Having said that, the whole Make in India concept has helped MNCs come to India and do whatever they like, with the hope that as an MNC, they’ll perhaps be forgiven if need be.

The debate at hand mostly boils down to laws which holds local and foreign companies on the same balance. Both Ola and Meru outlined how Uber broke laws right from their entry into the Indian market, which ranges from the well-known avoidance of the 2-factor authentication to claims of Uber continuing to use Diesel vehicles in Delhi when the competition including Ola complied 100% with the Diesel ban and using only CNG vehicles.  The most recent spat is Uber’s petition in the high court challenging the authority of the state government to frame the rules under the Motor Vehicles Act. While everybody complied, Uber might have gotten away with this one as well.

Flaunting the law of the land is bad news for customers and the market as a whole because at the end of the day it is the general public- customers, drivers, their families, who stand to get affected. Kingfisher Airlines rings a bell?

Do all laws make sense? No, not at all. As a co-founder Hipcask, I know how frustrating and convoluted some laws can be. But unless it is through some miracle or a due legislative process, I cannot fathom getting around the rule. Is it important to follow rules even it comes at a price? Yes, because one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

It’s good to see Ola overcome the legal hurdles and operate within the framework set by the Government, which may not always make sense, or be the easiest or the most efficient way to grow. And that’s something I know first-hand; as a fellow entrepreneur and one who has built everything ground-up in this country, understand Ola’s agitation too, on the disadvantages wrong practices can bring to the business ecosystem overall.

At the end of the day, the law of the land has to be followed, whether you are a multibillion dollar company or a brand new start-up!  Businesses have a moral responsibility to work with and around the Govt. to evolve their industry. By not following the law of the land, an irresponsible business is saying that they do not need the Government at all!

It is in fact, desirable that local governments give special preference to local players, and on the other hand, be unforgiving to MNCs who flout. This is exactly what China has done over the past few decades and the results are houselhold names like Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent and many more! An open market shouldn’t be misconceived as a welcome note to take the law of the land for a ride.

On a separate note, in a rather bizarre incident with Uber recently, I had to resort to using the SOS button on the app. I did not get any response from Uber or the Police even after 4-5 attempts of using the SOS button. 


We Are Hiring!

Things are heating up at the Hipcask HQ. We’re all hands on deck prepping for a revamp of the app and everyday there is something new happening. Often enough we’re out of breath trying to juggle so many things; it is about time we got more people on board.

So if wines, spirits for that matter, and food fascinate you Hipcask is the place to be. We are a mobile app and a consumer platform which allows people to discover, learn and explore all things which are wines and spirits related. The app itself is a digital sommelier which helps people navigate the seemingly difficult territory of fine wines as well as premium beers and whiskies.

We’re a young team which works as hard as we party and we are in search of like-minded, fun-loving and hard-working people.

iOS Wizard
Love developing robust iPhone/iPad applications? Hipcask is hiring.


  • Must possess 1 to 3 years of experience.
  • Strong knowledge of C , Objective C language, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch Frameworks.
  • An eye for intutive design.
  • Knowledge of web applications and MongoDB is an added plus.

To apply click here.

Senior PHP Developer
We’re in search of someone who has lost his/her heart to the web, someone who can’t keep their hands of backend intricacies and who has an intimate relationship with bugs.


  • 3+ years experience developing Server Side Applications.
  • Strong knowledge of PHP, HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and associated CMS frameworks.
  • Experience designing scalable, fault tolerant database infra with MongoDB.
  • Worked with AWS and posses the ability to build a secure server infra.
  • Have an keen sense of design.
  • Knowledge of versioning systems Git, SVN etc.

To apply click here.

Interns (2 positions)
If you can make best friends with excel sheets, have never ending patience with people and know how to make the most of Google, then you’re our guy!

We are looking to hire two interns to help us with a wide range roles from upcoming projects, content creation to events and research.

Job Description

  • Interacting with wineries, wine shops, importers and distributors.
  • Working on alliances with restaurants and bars.
  • Collating and managing data.
  • Assisting in event planning and execution.
  • Assisting our content team with planning and research.
  • Assist in planning and executing wine videos.
  • Knowledge of Photoshop and WordPress will be helpful but is not a necessity.

To get in touch, email us on

Also, there are some awesome perks including wine, beer and whisky tasting, attending interesting events and an opportunity to work with a cool team towards building an awesome app.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Nandan Nilekani’s talk at TechSparks

TechSparks 2014 had a lot of great talks and things to take away. Nandan Nilekani’s talk was not only excellent but reassuring in certain ways. YourStory’s article covers it well.

Having a co founder with complimenting skills is key and I don’t think I could have had a better co founder than Shiladitya. We bring tons of complimenting skill sets, we do have very similar sensibilities for most things, for example, design aesthetics has been a significant factor.

He spoke about meeting college dropouts from India and that being an indication of changing times of our startup ecosystem. I cannot say I am a college dropout because I never went to college to start with, a decision which worked very well for me and was possible only because of my awesome family. In 11th grade, photography became a very serious hobby and by 12th grade I knew this is what I wanted to do in life. Going to college would have made no sense for me but practical experience by assisting a photographer would be key and that is what my parents pushed me towards, thankfully. This was 11 years back, when most people thought I would be taking passport pictures when I wanted to purse photography.

His talk about building a global brand and thinking big made a lot of sense as well, specially for a brand like Hipcask which is heavily backed by great content, which has a global audience. One of the main reasons for us to rebrand to Hipcask was to approach a global audience and it has been working well for us. I won’t forget what Nandan said, “think big, it takes the same energy as thinking small”. This is something which recently came up with one of our internal discussions where we did think that perhaps we are thinking small and its time to think big, which is what we are doing and has led to a very exciting roadmap for Hipcask.

Building a strong core team and leadership were important points he mentioned as well. Although very early days for us with just a team of 6 right now, its interesting to see how our core team is shaping up. We are in a industry (wines and spirits ) which has seen little or no tech innovation in the consumer space. In a way it’s a good thing and gives us a clean slate to begin. We don’t have any company or product to replicate. India and South East Asia bring unique challenges and our young team is in a super charged mode to move ahead.

Lastly, it was amazing to be at TechSparks and for Hipcask to be selected in the Tech30 list along side some very innovative startups. Do follow YourStory on twitter and I hope they will post the video of Nandan’s talk soon. Apart from all this, he spoke about the roadmap and plan with Aadhaar/UID which is extremely promising.

I am not sitting in office again

Yes, the center picture is VSCOcam while the other two are Instagram
Yes, the center picture is VSCOcam while the other two are Instagram

Okay I might just sit in office again. But for most of the time, I will be standing and working.
I am new to offices. Since I was 18, photography was my life which meant standing most of the times. The only time you would end up sitting would be during edits and whatever might be the case, the majority of the day would never be spent sitting down.
Once Hipcask got an office, things changed. For the first time I was going to an office, and in offices people sit and work. So I did the same and it did not feel so good. Not only was I occasionally straining my neck and back, sitting all day in a chair also makes me feel a little stuck.
Long story short, I went to the first carpenter I could find and got a simple standing table made. It is literally a taller stool with a shelf, where external drives, coffee cups, headphones and even the phone can be kept. Standing and working just feels so much better. Not only physically but mentally I feel more alert. I can even more around more when pumped up kicks is playing, I don’t crave a double shot expresso after lunch!
The only downside is that standing 6-8 hours a day can be exhausting, so I do end up sitting for like 1-2 hours a day in office still. For which I am replacing my chair with a stability ball, but thats another post.
This first cut of the standing table or whatever you would like to call it cost me Rs. 1800, plus I will spend another Rs. 1000 on polishing it or painting it Hipcask maroon. Also making some design tweaks for the second version which shall be ready in a few weeks.

Indian Wine List transforms to Hipcask!

A few years ago, after a lot of wine (of course),  Shiladitya and I decided that we both wanted to make an app. We had to make an app about something we were passionate about and which would also have some relevance in India. After a lot of research (read drinking wine),  we realised how scattered this space was. There was no one platform where one could read about all Indian wines, read content which was produced regularly and get to know about what was going on in this space.

Indian Wine List was our answer to compile information about all Indian wines, along with content which was catered specially to an Indian wine drinker. India consumes 1/5th of the alcohol in the world. For most states, liquor taxes account for a major chunk of the revenue, and still there has not been much innovation in this space.

These are interesting times for wines in India. Quality of domestic wines has improved a lot over the last two years. Some wineries which producing below par wines shut, some merged and some new players entered the market.

This was the time to improve on the app and make a big leap forward. With Hipcask, we not only have Indian wines, but all wines available in Maharashtra, along with curated beers and whiskies. The app does a lot more as well, suggests wines on the basis of dishes and even suggests the right beverage when you are eating out!

This is just the start of Hipcask, we already have a lot more features in the pipeline. Basically, anything about wines, spirits and beers, we will have you covered.