Companies need market intelligence if they need to stay ahead and remain competitive in the industry. Many companies depend on analysts for the edge. But what if there is an automated platform that could provide market intelligence to companies. Etta.ai wants to do just that.
Founded by Chaitanya Kumar and Venkateshwar Reddy in Hyderabad in 2018, Etta.ai’s aim is to provide high-quality and cost-effective market intelligence and consulting services to companies of all sizes globally.
“Traditionally, market intelligence has been accessible to only top companies who have dedicated budgets to spend and 90 percent of companies are not able to use them due to barriers such as high costs, inaccessibility of data, and lack of awareness. Etta uses AI and proprietary data modelsand algorithms to provide a similar or better access at low costs, thus democratising access to market intelligence for even startups and SMEs,” Chaitanya Kumar, Co-founder of Etta.ai, tells YourStory.
Chaitanya and Venkat were batchmates while studying at BITS-Pilani and have known each other for the past 15 years. They graduated from BITS in 2009. Since then,the two have worked together in several companies as market research consultants,during which they hit upon the idea of launching a startup.
India has several traditional market research companies and also the Indian units of global companies such as Nielsen, BCG, Deloitte, KPMG, and EY, which have a strong presence. However, most of the work and services from these companies are done for overseas clients in the US and Europe.
“India has good quality talent especially with MBA graduates with good communication and math skills and hence the country has a good opportunity to become the knowledge services capital, treading a similar path of IT/ITES industry in the 90s. While the needs of B2C clients are primarily served by specialist agencies who conduct market surveys, CATI, and mystery shopping services etc, B2B clients’ needs are served in a two-fold manner: through market reports on target markets (also called syndicated reports) and strategy consulting services. So, there is a need for a home-grown market intelligence tech company that offers the solution to global consulting firms,” says Chaitanya.
Etta uses AI and ML algorithms to automate most of the manual work performed by analysts in other companies. The algorithms are programmed on millions of data points across sources, thus improving data accuracy and estimation models. Etta mainly targets the clients who purchase syndicate reports for high prices, by offering an alternative which is low-cost, has high accuracy and provides better data coverage.
The startup won its first client Deloitte during its incubation programme in Seoul, where it was selected by the Korean government body NIPA as a high-impact startup from a global competition in 2019. The startup reached out to their clients through various outbound marketing campaigns and could pique the interest of Deloitte Korea as they had a unique problem. Deloitte Korea was looking for niche market data which was not available anywhere and Etta provided it through the use of AI, thus saving 40 percent of their time and 80 percent of the costs. Their first pay cheque was for $3,000 for the efforts put in and they received encouraging feedback and positive testimonials from the team. The startup continues to work with them even today.
The duo invested close to $100,000 as part of an 18-month R&D effort which started in 2018.
“We are completely bootstrapped till date and haven’t raised any external funding. However, we are looking to raise seed funding and are in discussions with several VCs globally in order to expand our team and operations,” says Chaitanya.
One of the main challenges in building this business is the lack of trained and qualified talent in data science, research, and consultation in India. The market research industry is still in its early stages in India, hence the talent pool is small and access to good resources is difficult. Another major challenge is the lack of funding interest from the Indian VC ecosystem, considering that majority of them do not understand this sector or the market potential it offers.
“We use a pure-play SaaS type subscription model with clients paying on a monthly or annual basis, with different packages for different needs. As a startup from India, it is always challenging to convince global clients that our data quality and services are on par with any other established firm. In some cases, especially, Fortune 500 firms, we need to take extra measures to win deals. For a European headquartered industrial automation MNC, we had a two-month prep for a deal and we also visited Italy to showcase our project outline and explain our capabilities,” says Chaitanya.
The startup also created a Q&A with the clients in Italy for three days and had follow-ups with them for another couple of weeks, before they landed the deal. This was not only one of their most difficult cross-border deals but also the most fulfilling one not only because they won it, but because they were able to deliver the quality of work the startup had promised the client initially.
The way forward
Over the next 18 months the startup will be marketing this platform to its target clientele globally and sign up clients incrementally every month, so that they can achieve a singular target of $1M ARR by the end of this year.
“As a tech startup we have been selected among the Top 20 global startups in the KSGC Grand challenge programme conducted by the South Korean government and also were finalists in multiple events such NASSCOM fintech day, RISE Alpha, Vikingcubator, TIE Investor Connect and Global Startup Competition Top 10 from India,” says Chaitanya.
The startup has clients from different sectors such as automotive, healthcare, electronics, food and beverage industries globally and till date they have served around 100 clients.
Their USP is that among hundreds of companies offering market intelligence services globally, Etta is breaking through the clutter by offering premium quality services in a SaaS style subscription model, backed by AI algorithms and an expert team.
The startup competes with D&B Hoovers, Tap Clicks, and Inside View.
(Edited by Javed Gaihlot)
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