I made a prediction about 2012 being the year when personalization technologies start to find their stride.
GloMantra, Inc. is a company that specializes in personalization technology and social commerce solutions for e-commerce and online media companies. GloMantra understands the intent of consumers and the context of their need, and uses them to provide personalized and relevant recommendations. Based on its patent-pending personalization technology, the company provides three distinct offerings: personalization solutions for social commerce, which enable a personalized recommendations service for retailers and online media enterprises; a mobile personal assistant, which is a fully integrated solution for mobile device OEMs and carriers to make their smart devices smarter; and myBantu.com, a free consumer application, that acts as a smart personal assistant, giving users relevant recommendations for their daily needs. The company currently has a team of 15 serving a user base of over 10,000.
In the winter of 2007, while on a 27-day trip across the US, GloMantra co-founder and CEO Bhaskar Engati counted on close friend and GloMantra co-founder Bharath Yadla to help him find the best accommodations, tickets to subsequent destinations, good restaurants, car rentals, etc. Upon returning the Bay area, Engati and Yadla seriously considered the idea of having a technology-driven smart personal assistant that could help people – particularly busy professionals — with the kinds of things that Yadla had assisted Engati with during his travels, as well as other tasks. So, they put their extensive experience in AI to work and created the myBantu relevance engine, which can power a smart personal assistant as well as exploit the Web and personal networks. As they started building the relevance engine, they realized that they could only test it with a consumer app, and myBantu.com was released. According to Engati and Yadla, myBantu.com is similar to Siri but has a different approach. While Siri is a predominantly mobile-centric artificial intelligence-based assistant, myBantu uses a combination of artificial intelligence and social networks through friends’ recommendations and opinions.
Thanks to Apple’s acquisition of Siri in April 2010, the personal assistant market was duly validated, and Engati and Yadla saw a much larger opportunity for personal assistant technology in two key business areas: Mobile OEMs and carriers would need a personal assistant to compete with Apple, and retail and online media would need personalization with social commerce. The team spent nearly 10 months on research and development. Then, in September 2009, the limited alpha version of myBantu.com launched. With this validation and the modest revenue earned during a 60-day experimental run, the company launched myBantu-private beta in May 2010. MyBantu-public beta launched in September 2011. Besides Siri, GloMantra competes with Hunch.com (acquired by eBay) and Aardvark.com (acquired by Google).
The personalization solution for social commerce primarily focuses on understanding consumers’ needs and context and engaging them with personalized experiences. It does this by combining personalized recommendations and social intelligence. It is powered by the company’s myBantu relevance engine. The social commerce solutions enable retail and online media enterprises to increase their conversion rates and average order values and speed up a user’s buying decision by offering a personalized user experience. It does this by gaining an understanding of that user’s ecommerce and media needs. It then recommends relevant products and information and helps the user to quickly make decisions by getting reviews from friends and expert sources, rather than presenting the consumer with a load of content that today’s destination sites do.
The mobile personal assistant is fully integrated with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It leverages mobile device functions such as communication, alarms, local contacts, native applications, voice interaction, etc., and makes smart devices truly personalized. Users can ask for what they want by speaking in natural language or via text message. The mobile assistant then makes personalized and actionable recommendations and fulfills the user’s request as well. The mobile personal assistant can easily integrate with the native mobile applications and execute tasks related to them.
MyBantu helps mobile and Internet users with dining, finding a movie, shopping, neighborhood services and social needs, such as personal reminders. It generates personalized and relevant recommendations from multiple sources including the Internet, social networks and trusted expert sources. It also gets opinions directly from friends or other social contacts. It procures online coupons and much more. Essentially, it combines the wisdom of the Web, social networks and experts to make life easier for the user. MyBantu currently has Web, Facebook, iOS and Android apps available for use.
Enganti has 20 years of experience in management, consulting, engineering and organizational leadership. He has worked for startups and Big5 consulting houses. Prior to founding GloMantra, Enganti founded two other startups: Aalayance, Inc. (acquired by HCL Technologies) and Enterprise Component Technologies, Inc. (ECT). He served as managing director of Aalayance, where he was primarily responsible for building the organization from the ground up to a team of more than 150 employees, and for driving the Aalayance acquisition by HCL Technologies.
Engati has a bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology and a master’s in system science and automation from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He gained much of his industry expertise while working first for Telco, a TATA company, and later for Accenture in its Chicago location.
Yadla has over 14 years of experience in product strategy and marketing, professional services and general management in startups. Prior to founding GloMantra, he served as regional manager at Cast Iron Systems, Inc. (acquired by IBM). Yadla managed the professional services for western US region and was responsible for three-fold revenue growth and managing the portfolio of over 100 accounts, including customers like Salesforce, Apple and Boeing. Prior to Cast Iron, he co-founded Aalayance where he drove the professional services and pre-sales of TIBCO Practice. Yadla has a bachelor’s degree from Sri Venkateswara and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
GloMantra estimates that the total addressable for its social commerce solution for retail and online media is $3 billion in the US and India. It estimates that the total addressable market for myBantu – US focused – is more than $1 billion for the small business sector, over $3 billion for the mid-market and over $2 billion for the large enterprise market. Finally, GloMantra estimates that the total addressable market – US only – for its personal assistant for mobile OEM and carriers market is $1.2 billion, specifically for the Gen X and Gen Y segments.
The company’s enterprise solution focuses on partnerships with IT service providers to reach mid-market retail and online media segments. The consumer solution focuses on partnerships with mobile OEM device players to reach a mass user base with a pre-install solution.
The projected pricing for GloMantra’s offerings are an average monthly license fee of $3000/- per domain for mid-market customers. MyBantu, which has a revenue model based on transaction commission, is free to users. Whenever a user likes a recommendation and accepts it through myBantu, a transaction commission is realized from the service provider through the affiliation commission model. The pricing for mobile OEMs is projected to be $0.25 per mobile device installation.
The founders raised $150, 000 of seed funding in Aug, 2008 from contributions made by Engati, Yadla and two founding members. In February 2009, the team secured $1.3 million as Series-A from an IT corporation and angels from the Bay area and Bangalore. An additional $1.5 million was raised as Series-A1 in November 2011 from the existing investors and a couple of new angels. The company intends to raise an additional $4 million in a Series B round in April 2012.
This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2012