The next super-app: Pathao connects millions of Bangladeshis to ridesharing and food delivery services

INDUSTRY

Travel-Transportation-Logistics

PRODUCT

MongoDB Atlas

INITIATIVE

Business Agility

CUSTOMER SINCE

2019
INTRODUCTION

New digital economy set to completely reshape Bangladesh

Bangladesh is both one the largest countries by population in the world and one of the most densely populated. Until 2010, it was also one of the least economically developed countries, with GDP per capita slightly over $700. It has also suffered from major infrastructure challenges, for example Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, has famously difficult and blocked roads. The city is consistently ranked in the top ten worst cities in the world for traffic, even topping the list in 2019.

However, a massive economic boom has pushed the country into middle-income territory. Fueling this growth are the country's large base of young people (almost 65% of the country are below the age of 25) and its rapidly increasing internet and smartphone penetration. The World Economic Forum is predicting the new digital economy will completely reshape the country. A nascent technology startup scene is already leading the way with new young companies, building great businesses, tailored to operate within the unique properties of countries like Bangladesh. Often these companies can completely bypass traditional broadband internet or telecoms usage which is helping leap-frog the technology adoption curve that mature economies went through.

Pathao is one such company.

Founded in 2015, Pathao is among the fastest growing and most successful tech start-ups in Asia, having raised more than 40 million dollars in funding, and has dedicated itself to creating solutions to minimize infrastructure problems. The company aims to provide an app-based solution for IT-enabled services to accelerate the establishment of digital Bangladesh. It is the country’s premier super-app with nearly 10 million downloads and customers who can choose from more than a dozen services including food delivery service, grocery purchase, e-comm store, cashless payments, and ride sharing. With well over 100 microservices running to support its complex business, Pathao needs robust, scalable and flexible databases to underpin its operations.
THE CHALLENGE

Overwhelming popularity forces IT rethink

Pathao started as a bike-based courier service in Dhaka before expanding into bike-based ridesharing – a two-wheeled Uber. When it opened up its platform to freelance drivers, business boomed from 2,000 to over 10,000 trips per day within weeks. Unfortunately, the company’s infrastructure was not equipped to handle the increased traffic. Outages during busy hours became increasingly common, leading to poor customer experiences. Pathao needed to rethink its approach to IT, especially as its business model was continuing to evolve.

“When we built our original systems, we were not expecting that volume of traffic and our monolithic platform was ill-equipped to deal with it. We decided to pivot to a microservice architecture and move to a Kubernetes cluster on Google Cloud to enable the deployment of microservices,” explained Shifat Adnan, co-founder and CTO, Pathao. “Our vision was to develop one app that would work across multiple verticals, such as groceries, parcels, games, health, ridesharing and streaming content. That required a different type of database for certain use cases.”

Shifat Adnan, Co-founder, Chief Technology Officer at Pathao

"We decided to pivot to a microservice architecture and move to a Kubernetes cluster on Google Cloud."

Shifat Adnan, Co-founder and CTO, Pathao

THE SOLUTION

The right stack

Pathao's business is expanding and changing quickly. For many of the microservices there is a lot of unpredictability about what data will need to be stored, how much will be stored and how it will need to be accessed. For those critical use cases that require flexibility and scalability Pathao turned to MongoDB.

“We want to use the right technology stack for the right service and the primary consideration is: what is the predictability and certainty of the data model?” added Shifat. “We chose MongoDB so our engineers can run product changes upfront and make quick decisions based on market feedback for services that need this flexibility.”

“We chose MongoDB so our engineers can run product changes upfront and make quick decisions based on market feedback for services that need this flexibility.”

Shifat Adnan, Co-founder and CTO, Pathao

One example is the driver incentives program, where rules relating to constraints, pick up times and incentives change on a regular basis. MongoDB provides the capacity to iterate and respond quickly to changing demands.

After MongoDB proved successful, the team wanted to further improve its developer velocity and ability to provide a great customer experience. So, in 2019 Pathao migrated from self-hosted MongoDB to MongoDB Atlas running on Google Cloud, which offers best-in-class automation and proven practices that guarantee availability, scalability, and compliance with world class data security and privacy standards.

Now more than a dozen microservices run on MongoDB Atlas, including the customer loyalty program, which means that each of the millions of transactions and events processed every week depend on Atlas at some point.

“100 percent of our user base relies on MongoDB because every transaction leaves a footprint on the loyalty program,” continued Shifat. “And for individual microservices, such as the ones for food delivery, every generated event goes first to the Atlas cluster and can then be fed back via multiple pipelines. Maintaining this flexibility is key to our success.”

"100 percent of our user base relies on MongoDB...every generated event goes first to the Atlas cluster and can then be fed back via multiple pipelines. Maintaining this flexibility is key to our success."

Shifat Adnan, Co-founder and CTO, Pathao

THE RESULTS

Services that were previously unimaginable

Pathao now confidently prototypes and deploys new services in a matter of hours on reliable MongoDB Atlas and Google Cloud infrastructure. In addition, the company’s engineers and developers find it a familiar, intuitive environment, and perhaps most importantly, it's making their lives easier.

“We used to set up a lot of the alerts and monitoring manually for our MongoDB instances, which takes time. But MongoDB Atlas offers all that and more out of the box, lifting the burden off our engineering teams,” said Shifat. “Atlas also provides a rich dashboard, which gives us total visibility of operations, metrics, and analytics in real time.”

By migrating to a robust Kubernetes clusters on Google Cloud, Pathao has also greatly reduced the load on the infrastructure team and enjoys guaranteed uptime so Thursday night outages are a thing of the past. The application scales effortlessly to meet changes in demand. As the company sets its sights on international expansion, MongoDB and Google Cloud will continue to play a key role.

“The biggest benefit of MongoDB Atlas is that we simply do not need to worry – the prebuilt alert mechanisms, auto-scaling and built-in monitoring give us peace of mind while the document database approach empowers our users in ways classical databases sometimes cannot,” concluded Shifat. “MongoDB acts as a force multiplier to help us optimize resources and harness potential growth in emerging markets. With millions of Bangladeshis adopting smartphone technology, our app gives them access to services that were previously unimaginable and helps position our country at the forefront of the digital economy.”

"MongoDB acts as a force multiplier to help us optimize resources and harness potential growth in emerging markets."

Shifat Adnan, Co-founder and CTO, Pathao

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