Hello, everyone. My name is Kayoreena and I work in the Engineering Office Team of Mercari Japan. In this article, I would like to report on the opening ceremony of Mercari India held on August 26.
Mercari established a base (Mercari India) in Bengaluru, India in June 2022 and has been recruiting tech human resources, mainly engineers.
The opening ceremony was actually planned from the beginning of June 2022, when the office in India was established, as an opportunity to express Mercari’s enthusiasm for expanding into India. The timing of the ceremony had been discussed for a long time. As Vish Magapu, Site Lead of Mercari India, joined the organization in February of this year, and more employees joined the company, which led to the decision to relocate the office, we decided to hold the ceremony on August 26 after the move to the new location.
Since the establishment of Mercari India, I have been working on branding and general internal and external communication measures in India, so I was engaged in content planning as a member of the team organizing the ceremony. As a representative of the organizing team, I would like to introduce the preparations for the ceremony and how it went on the day.
Creating the design
We decided to create an original logo for the ceremony. Normally, we would not think of creating a logo just for one ceremony. However, because this ceremony was a special one for Mercari India, and because it was to be attended by people from offices in various countries and outside parties, we wanted to have a common concept and create a greater sense of unity and thus created an original logo and design.
“Mercari One” has two meanings. “One” signifies the celebration of the first anniversary of Mercari India, while also meaning that the employees in Japan, India, and the U.S. will be united as one. The logo uses the same colors as those used for the 10th-anniversary celebration of Mercari Group. It also incorporates the meaning of the newly formulated Group mission “Circulate all forms of value to unleash the potential in all people.”
The signage set up during the ceremony was also designed with a fusion of Mercari and Indian touches. The icons, which evoke items bought and sold on Mercari, express the service aspect of Mercari. The cultural aspects of India are represented with rangoli (geometric patterns painted on building entrances, gardens, and more), which is considered a symbol of celebration in India, decorated elephants, the Taj Mahal, and South Indian filtered coffee. In addition, these design elements were set up in a grid pattern to represent the home screen of the Mercari app.
Because Mercari is still not well known in India, we hope that through this kind of design, people will begin to understand our services better and get more familiar with us.
As the ceremony was held over a short period of time (one day), we took particular care with how we structured the program for the day.
The purpose of the ceremony was to officially declare Mercari’s formal entry into the Indian market and to promote us externally. But as the planning progressed, we began to want more and more to make the ceremony special for the employees and have it live on as a good memory. For our employees in India, Mercari is still a new company. For those who have believed in and joined such an unknown company, we wanted to provide a renewed sense of what kind of an organization our company is, and to give them time to truly sense that Mercari is fun.
In addition, numerous members of the Japan office, including management, also adjusted their schedules to help celebrate the India office. We wanted people to enjoy the opportunity to interact with the members who had come all the way from Japan.
For these reasons, we decided to plan an employees-only ceremony in the morning at the office as well as a party in the afternoon at a hotel to which the families of employees were also invited.
Moving to the new office
The office relocation, which was the main trigger for holding this ceremony, was accomplished via the members’ cooperation with a spirit of “All for One” despite some occasionally difficult situations. To provide some background, the old office could only accommodate about 40 chairs and thus needed to be relocated to support the future expansion of the India base.
With companies from around the world establishing development bases in Bengaluru, it was extremely difficult to find a suitable location for the new office and to create an office that would reflect Mercari’s essence. However members of the Workplace Team (a team that promotes various projects ranging from office operations to construction) visited the office and created a design that reflects Mercari’s culture, preparing the office in a short amount of time. The office relocation, which proceeded simultaneously with the ceremony preparations, was successfully completed at the end of July.
Decorations in the new office began about a week before the ceremony. About 200 photos shared by members on Slack taken since the establishment of the Mercari India office were put up on the glass wall of the meeting rooms.
Day of the ceremony
Morning session/Indian-style ceremony with all the members
The day started with the ceremony in the office. A red carpet was rolled out in the hallway leading to the entrance.
The morning session consisted of a classic Indian ceremony. A tika, a sign of blessing worn in Hindu rituals, was placed on the foreheads of participating employee members. This is an Indian custom to pray for happiness, success, and good fortune.
Refreshments were served in the café area as members waited for the official ribbon cutting (office opening).
During the waiting period, a fierce Yaksha deity from Indian mythology also made an appearance to welcome the employee members’ arrival. Yakshas are commonly depicted as nature spirits or guardian deities.
As you may have already noticed, the dress code for the morning session was traditional Indian clothing such as kurtas and saris. The members clad in their colorful outfits were very proud, and I could sense that the atmosphere in the hall was very cheerful. Some members were experiencing wearing traditional Indian clothing for the first time. The ceremony space became even brighter as they experienced the local culture and enjoyed the atmosphere.
When the members had all gathered, the ribbon cutting was held as the first part of the ceremony. The ribbon cutting was conducted by Group Chief Executive Officer Shintaro Yamada, Senior Vice President of Japan Region Naoki Aoyagi, Chief Financial Officer Sayaka Eda, Chief Technology Officer (Mercari Group) Ken Wakasa, and Mercari India Site Lead Vish Magapu.
The next part of the ceremony was a ritual referred to as lamp lighting. Lamp lighting is considered to be a part of prayer and worship through the lighting of sacred lamps, as well as an important ritual for strengthening the sense of unity of families and teams.
Finally, puja prayer rituals, the core of the rites, were performed.
Pujas are performed on important occasions in India. They are especially conducted at new residences or new bases of operations to pray for divine blessings and a happy, safe space before moving in.
Morning session/Past and future of Mercari India and Special All Hands
After the morning session of the ceremony, an Open Door (casual talk session) and panel discussion were held for all employees under the title of Special All Hands for Mercari India.
The first of these was the Open Door with Group Chief Executive Officer Shintaro Yamada and Senior Vice President of Japan Region Naoki Aoyagi. Because this was the first time for Shintaro and Naoki to meet in-person with members of Mercari India, time was allocated for a casual talk session, including a session for self-introductions.
Some companies may provide few opportunities to communicate directly with their management. However, I believe that providing an opportunity to communicate directly with Shintaro and Naoki embodied “Trust and Openness” which is one of Mercari’s cherished concepts. Although Open Door sessions had been planned on a regular basis, this was the first time that an Open Door was held in Mercari India with Japanese employee members participating, and it was a fascinating time.
The second event was a session reflecting on the past and future of Mercari India. Because the organization of Mercari India has expanded rapidly over the past year, there were many things that new members, in particular, did not know, such as how the concept of Mercari India started, how important the project was, and what challenges there have been so far. We took this opportunity to reflect on such matters.
The year-in-review was given by Mohan Ramdas Bhatkar, who promoted the project as head of engineering at the inception of Mercari India.
Mohan’s presentation included anecdotes featuring all the members involved in Mercari, and it was a moment that brought back vivid memories to all present. The presentation, which made the audience realize Mohan’s role as a strong driving force, concluded with a message of thanks to all the team members.
The session on the theme of the future took the form of a panel discussion with Chief Technology Officer (Mercari Group) Ken Wakasa, Mercari India Site Lead Vish Magapu, VP of Product Engineering Carlos Donderis, and Director CXO & LTV Growth Snehal Shinde.
With regard to the perspective of “What will be the future of Mercari’s engineering organization?” that was on everyone’s mind, the audience asked a variety of questions about the development structure, cultural aspects, career opportunities, and other topics. In addition to the questions asked in advance, there were also questions asked directly to the speakers on the day, and the discussion continued well beyond the originally scheduled time.
Facilitating the morning discussion was Smriti Singhal, an HR member from Mercari India. Initially, there was a proposal to assign a professional MC for the morning session, but we asked Smriti to play this important role because she knows more about Mercari’s situation and will be a key member in creating the culture of Mercari India in the future.
It was her impressive facilitation that made the morning session meaningful for everyone, and as the organizers we are all very grateful to her.
After the morning session, all present members had lunch together in the lunch area on the office’s second floor. As the morning program was so exciting and ended later than planned, the following lunch must have tasted that much better.
During lunch, we enjoyed a delicious curry buffet while sharing our impressions of the traditional Indian-style experience, reflections on an inspiring year, and passionately discussing the future of Mercari’s engineering organization.
Afternoon session / A variety of activities set up at the venue for everyone from family members to members of the government
With the memories of the morning still lingering, we moved on to the afternoon session. The venue was moved from the office to a hotel venue, where a party was planned to celebrate the start of the new Mercari India.
Many Mysore petas were prepared at the entrance to welcome people. The Mysore peta is a traditional turban worn in the state of Karnataka, where Bengaluru is located, and has special significance as a symbol of the state’s cultural identity.
The afternoon session was expanded from just employees to also their families, as well as all the companies and government officials who have contributed to the establishment of Mercari India. Therefore, in the afternoon session, several booths were prepared for the enjoyment of all the visitors.
The mini-game area is for both adults and children.
The painting area where visitors could enjoy simple portraits and body painting art.
A photo booth area with a 360-degree GoPro camera was set up for social media and was the most exciting of all the booths.
The “M” logo of Mercari was placed at the entrance, and all participants could write their own handwritten messages.
As the unique booths were filled with excitement, we realized that the venue was filled with nearly 180 visitors! We awaited the start of the program with excitement.
Afternoon session/Authentic Indian party for all
A special stage was set up in the ceremony hall, and Anitha, the MC, started the program. She kept the audience excited from start to finish with her professional way of enlivening the event.
First, a group dance of Dollu Kunitha was performed to welcome all guests. The group presented traditional Indian music performed by men from the North Karnataka community.
In addition, during the ice-breaker time at the beginning, smartphone lights were used to celebrate the landing on the Moon of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) unmanned lunar probe Chandrayaan-3, which was featured in the news a few days before the ceremony.
The opening video celebrated Mercari India’s first year and contained scenes from an off-site event held in July of this year.
After the ice-breaker, the program started with greetings from Mercari’s management.
Group Chief Executive Officer Shintaro shared a story from his own trip to India 12 years ago that led to the current Mercari business model, and also mentioned the contributions of Indian employee members to Mercari to date and their further potential.
Senior Vice President of Japan Region Naoki expressed appreciation for the members who launched Mercari India, the high expectations for Vish who has become the new head of the India office, and the affinity between Mercari’s culture and India.
Chief Financial Officer Sayaka thanked everyone, including the government officials, and mentioned the Japan-India IT human resources exchange to strengthen the digital economy mentioned in the March 2022 Japan-India Summit Joint Statement.
In addition, on behalf of the guests, Consul-General Tsutomu Nakane of the Consulate General of Bengaluru, as well as Director General Toshihiro Mizutani of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Bengaluru extended their congratulations. We thank them very much.
Finally, for the main part of the program, there was a dance performance embodying the culture and diversity of India! Traditional dances from each state were performed by their respective dancers.
At the end, all the dancers from different states came together to perform one collective dance. For the employee members who are from India, watching the dances helped them remember their hometowns. For those not from India, this was a time to experience the fascinating elements and diversity of Indian culture.
The participatory program included a rhythm challenge using sticks.
In this activity, participants were asked to hold sticks of different colors, form groups according to the color of their sticks, and beat out the rhythm. By combining four different rhythms to form a single melody line, participants were able to truly experience Mercari’s value of “All for One.”
In the second half of the participatory program, participants were divided into two teams and tried their hand at mini-games related to India.
The excitement of the audience reached a climax with a Bollywood dance performance at the end! The dancers ultimately came down from the stage and transformed the venue into a dance floor for participation by all.
After the photoshoot in the venue, Mercari India Site Lead Vish Magapu gave closing remarks. Vish thanked all the participants involved in the ceremony.
This marked the end of the entire program. Afterward, the ceremony hall was transformed into a party venue, where a buffet dinner began. Everyone enjoyed a special evening.
After the ceremony
We ended the opening ceremony for Mercari India while sensing many people’s encouraging cheers, further expectations, and enthusiasm.
This ceremony would not have been possible without the cooperation of many people. I would like to take this opportunity to express sincere gratitude to all those who have worked so hard for Mercari India.
The new history of Mercari India has begun with the wonderful memories of this unforgettable ceremony. I hope that the members of Mercari India will now strengthen their presence within the Mercari Group and become a driving force of the business and organization for the next stage of Mercari, which I am sure will be the case. Many Mercari employees in Japan and the U.S. are supporting the growth of Mercari India, and we look forward to working together to move forward.
Of course, there will be times when we will have to face numerous trials and difficulties. When you do, please remember this wonderful ceremony.
If this day was a special moment for you, it is proof that each and every one of you is special and a valued colleague in our Group. We will be delighted if this becomes an unforgettable memory for all members and guests who participated. If the ceremony was not memorable, please contact us and we will think of even more fun plans for next time !! (laughs)
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who participated in this ceremony from the bottom of my heart. We look forward to your continued guidance and support for Mercari India.
Mercari India corporate site https://about.in.mercari.com/
The day’s events have also been published as a press release. The press release also includes the future prospects of Mercari India, as well as comments from Chief Technology Officer (Mercari Group) Ken Wakasa and Mercari India Site Lead Vish, who are on the engineering management team.