Meet Alok Goyal — Rocket Growth Engineering
Coupang is breaking tradeoffs by providing high-quality selection and convenience at the best price for our customers.
Rocket Growth, a unique service of Coupang, illustrates how Coupang with the help of talented engineers, is building the future of commerce into reality.
We met Alok, the leader of the Rocket Growth organization and learned about career opportunities for engineers and the organization’s culture.
Hi Alok, thank you for agreeing to the interview. Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Alok Goyal, and I am from India. I moved to Seattle around 15 years back when I was working at a leading multinational technology corporation which produces personal computers, software, and consumer electronics. Since then, Seattle has been my new home. I enjoy traveling and love the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Also, I love working with talented people, growing, and scaling organizations to build and grow businesses.
It is interesting to hear that you are from India and lived in Seattle. How did you join Coupang?
I enjoy building new businesses and scaling them to new highs. If I look back, I find myself fortunate working on V1s of many products. For example, after doing my master's in computer science, I had the opportunity to develop the first version of Bluetooth protocols and profiles for devices back in the year 2000. Later, at my previous company, I enjoyed scaling SQL server business and had the opportunity to contribute to the first version of Azure Compute and Storage services. Later, I had the opportunity to build several new commerce services from scratch and scaling the Retail technology.
After working at the leading tech company for 12 years, I decided to join other major cloud providers to learn and contribute while building several new cloud services from scratch. I led organizations focusing on developing cloud platforms and released several services in the resource and cost governance areas to help our enterprise customers. Also, I was passionate about improving developer productivity, therefore also released new services in the source code management and collaboration areas (similar to GitHub).
After working for several big companies globally, I found Coupang a compelling opportunity to lead their Rocket Growth Organization and to contribute to the e-commerce space. Since then, I have loved every day while being here, growing Rocket Growth business to 5X and beyond, tackling new challenges, solving problems, and growing the engineering organization.
Please introduce the Rocket Growth service. What is different from other companies?
The success of any e-commerce product depends on three main pillars. 1) High quality selection, 2) Best price 3) Convenience. Rocket Growth is a unique service that targets these 3 pillars as we provide high quality selection at the best price with the speed of same day delivery to our customers. We do demand & capacity planning, provide enough days of coverage for in-demand items, and customers get the best selection with the best price, and with the convenience of same day delivery.
Then how is the Rocket Growth engineering team structured?
The Rocket Growth engineering organization oversees multiple functions. We have multiple areas within the organization such as:
1) Identifying the best selection and sellers who will add value to the platform – there is an engineering group that focusses on collecting the best products from multiple data sources and then mining the data to come up with potential products that we want to onboard.
2) Self-service onboarding experiences for sellers – There is another team which develops the technology so that our sellers discover our business and onboard with least frictions in a self-service fashion. They know what value-add they would get by onboarding to Rocket Growth. Through data science, we predict the potential GMV that sellers can make, encourage sellers to onboard the service and test the platform.
3) Product registration experiences – there is a team that develops the technology to provide registration experiences. Also, we deal with compliance issues and automate through computer vision and data science approaches such as image resolution, multiple object detection, KC logo, abusive products, and seller certificate detection to meet compliance requirements.
4) Logistics and Transportation – There is a group that has multiple teams within this area. Once the products are registered, sellers send these products to Coupang’s warehouses. The problems such as which warehouse to send the product to, network redundancy, capacity management, out of stock management, customer returns, seller returns, partial returns, inventory management are all part of this larger group.
5) Seller Success – This group handles the earned trust aspects and provides several business insights to our sellers. Things like – inventory health dashboard, to see the status of inventories in different warehouses, business insights into GMV, accurate seller settlements & financials, developing pricing strategies to help sellers determine the best price, are all part of this group.
6) Data Science – It’s a horizontal team spanning multiple areas to support the business. We have computer vision and data scientists who are helping with predictions such as GMV, out of stock forecasting, capacity forecasting and other areas that we are investing deeply in.
I have the vision that every customer whether they are in Korea or outside Korea use to order Rocket Growth service to order products. To get there, we need to ensure that we always provide the best selection at the best price with great convenience.
Could you Introduce Rocket Growth Engineering team’s career opportunities?
The engineering team is full of talented people from Meta, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and other leading companies. As I discussed earlier, we have multiple groups within the Rocket Growth engineering organization. The engineers solve interesting problems on a daily basis. For example, how do we reduce product registration to approval lead times, or how do we allocate a warehouse for a particular seller keeping seller preference, Coupang constraints around capacity, redundancy to minimize cost, or how do we accurately forecast out of stock products so that sellers take actions on time, or how do we help sellers determine the best price for their products so that they increase their sales. Those are all interesting problems that our engineers tackle regularly. Also, to increase the business to 10X, a lot of new interesting problems are emerging, and our engineers are hard at work while enjoying and learning in this space.
What is Rocket Growth Engineering team’s culture?
As a leader of the organization, I navigate people towards the right outcome versus telling people what to do directly. That way, team members flow their creative juices and become passionate about their ideas. I encourage bottom-up culture where anyone can bring any new idea to the table or talk about proposals that make our customers’ lives easier. Our engineers in the team Aim High and Find a Way to solve problems.
If a new engineer joins Coupang, what will they experience?
The organization is working on complex problems that will allow our business to scale. The new hire will not only learn about the business but also will get the opportunity to scale the existing technology. Also, new hires will build services from scratch and work on algorithmic problems such as FC (Fulfillment Centers) allocation, route optimization, accurate inventory calculations across distributed systems. The new hire will learn how to design and develop distributed systems asynchronously that are resilient through time.
We are very flexible in accommodating to our new talent. We train them through mentorship programs where peer mentors are assigned to a new employee. Also, we are in the process of setting up an engineering group in South Korea so that we have a global presence for the engineering organization. The engineers in Korea will get the opportunity to work with the Seattle team. Also, they will get a chance to visit Seattle from time to time.
Do you have any words for the future members of Rocket Growth?
Anyone who is passionate about solving problems. Anyone who has a “can do” attitude and loves to be part of a growing organization. Anyone who can code and wants to learn and show excitement will be a great fit.
Rocket Growth's roadmap includes interesting products and features and opportunities for you to grow the business from scratch. We are looking for engineers to help drive, build, and scale the Rocket Growth system. Apply now.