What is your startup and what does it do?
IntelligenceNODE is a big data firm helping brands and retailers with pricing and merchandising analytics.
By using sophisticated algorithms and a proprietary online decision support system, we deliver holistic pricing and merchandizing dashboards through a SAAS offering. IntelligenceNODE has created a range of tools that allow retailers & brands to understand the right price and the right product, recognize consumer patterns, and engage proactively with the market, making not only simpler but more rewarding decisions
At whom is your startup aimed?
The product is aimed at any player in the retail universe, ranging from traditional to online brands, retailers, and marketplaces across the world.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
The competitive landscape is predominately US-centric, and most competing firms are also early-stage start-ups at similar sales maturity curves. By providing our clients with a deep product understanding and coverage — which spans over 250 million unique products from 50 thousand brands a — IntelligenceNODE can help merchants be leaders in the constantly changing retail ecosystem, which really sets us apart from the other big data houses in this space. We also offer multi-lingual SAAS portal that helps clients compare competitors across markets, irrespective of the catalogue display language.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
Having played the role of the CFO for two e-commerce companies in the retail space (Exclusively.in & Shersingh.com), I constantly faced the frustration of determining if we were selling the right product at the right price, and attempting to bridge the gap between underpricing and leaving money on the table, or overpricing and losing the customer. Also encouraging was the evolution of retail from omni-channel to consumer relevance driven commerce, due to the evolving millennial shopper and their buying behavior, which offered a unique $32 billion annual market for product retail focused on big data analytics market.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
The only concern was to bridge the gap between rolling out a commercially viable product to the retailers, and the ever changing pace of the retail industry
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
This is the fourth start-up that I have been associated with. After my stint as the head of research and analysis for a hedge fund trading FX using machine-learning algorithms, I co-founded my first startup focused on pricing algorithms for capital markets. After that I took on the role of group CFO of two ecommerce companies, Exclusively.In (luxury multi brand ecommerce portal) and Sher Singh (a sports inspired ecommerce private label).
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
We kicked off in September 2012 and were bootstrapped initially. In May 2014 IntelligenceNODE received its first round of external funding from Orios venture partners + angels. We have exhibited best in class capital efficiency traits since then with sustained 39% month on month growth in revenues for the last six months. We currently are in the process of finalizing our fresh round of investment, with an already agreed term sheet from one of the world’s largest enterprise technology investors. We believe this round of financing should help us hit a $10 million annualized revenue run rate over the next 18 months.
What has been your greatest achievement so far? How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years?
The greatest achievement was the acceptance of the idea/product by the industry and the investor community. Growth so far has been organic, with client recommendations from the peer community. We are already an IBM Global Entrepreneurship Program member, and a SAP Start Up Focus allowing us to use selectively best-inbred technologies from these organizations. We were among the top 50 amongst 750 tech companies selected by Techcrunch, and winner of best start-up in Asia for the solutions category at SiliconIndia 2013.
How long has the business been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
My partner Yasen Dimitrov and I started the business in September 2012, both with rich startup and algorithmic-based pricing strategy backgrounds. Currently the team size is 30 people across all offices, including a unique blend of data science and retail experts.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Big data for retail is nascent from a client’s understanding and learning curve, this means longer conversion lead times for larger clients and that remains a challenge. Also the constant move towards personalization from retailers leads to request for more and more customized analytics which increases cost of mass market expansion.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
The technology product has been scaled to a level where it has the capacity to support over 1000 simultaneous client logins with client onboarding timelines reduced to a few hours. In the coming year, the focus lies in tapping deep into India, South East Asia, Europe, Middle East and US retail markets. We are also looking to venture into newer sectors with sector agnostic technology – financial services, health, and real estate
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
The single most important lesson has been the switch from a services to a product business, and in doing so, building scalable and replicable technology products for hyper growth and disrupting the traditional market. It helps keeping our costs lean and constantly focus on future releases to stay ahead of the game in our quest to provide our clients with immunity to complexity.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Firstly I would say it’s very important to recognize the dynamics impacting businesses today, and create a product that adds value to the client. Secondly it’s important to understand the fast paced and evolutionary nature of the market, and be easily adaptable to it. Hiring is the biggest challenge for any start-up, but entrepreneurs should still be ready to go through the process and find the right team members that add real value rather than learning through an expensive and inefficient iteration cycle.