Intel Capital, Nokia, Ascent and Inventus-backed Vizury helps brands in 40 countries around the world, not only make sense of online-offline data but also take personalized marketing actions based on the insights drawn.
Gourav Chindlur, Chetan Kulkarni and Vikram Nayak, buddies from their days at Trilogy, had a vision of doing something in the Internet space. They were intrigued with the way the sector was shaping and all their lunch conversations at Trilogy, an Austin-based software company, were centred on it. And, the fact that Trilogy as an organisation encouraged entrepreneurial spirit, hastened their ideation process.
The trio observed that the Internet was starting to create serious impact in the market. “Our initial business plan we wrote was on data, technology and marketing and what can be done at the intersection of the three,” says Kulkarni. They soon quit their jobs as they were convinced that something good can be built around their idea. “We had not even set up a company. We used to meet in Gourav’s place and work on multiple things and identify what could be done around data, technology and marketing. After much iteration we arrived at a product that forms the basis for our multi-million dollar product,” he recalls. The trio established Vizury, a Big Data marketing firm, in 2008. Today, it works with companies in over 40 countries across industries like travel and hospitality, ecommerce, banking and financial services, automobile and telecom related companies. The company’s USP is that it helps brands make sense of their online-offline data and action their personalised marketing strategies, accordingly.
Vizury has the privilege of being listed on Deloitte APAC Tech Fast500 and has won the FOMA 2015 award for the smart use of data. It currently has around 250 plus employees and more than 600 customers which include both small and large sized companies. It is focussed on the Asia pacific and Latin American markets and derives almost 80 per cent of its revenues from the global market.
Till date, the founders have raise US $27 million in three rounds of funding, the latest being US $16 million from Intel Capital and Ascent Capital
Going forward, the company may eventually tap the capital markets for its future growth.
Understanding the market
“Oracle has built multiple products around the offline marketing space and Google has built products for online advertising. Clearly, the marketing space is evolving very rapidly where there is a challenges of big data analytics for the offline world,” says Kulkarni. There are challenges with respect to customer connection and this is where Vizury steps in with its marketing cloud or marketing hub solution. The company looks at how to use the data and make marketing more efficient and hence, its product portfolio helps marketers create a unified view of users across channels, identify users with precision and target them with highly personalised and pertinent messages at the right time and on the right channel.
Explaining further, Kulkarni says, “There are millions of people who search online for various combinations. And all these users have exhibited specific behaviour, giving some sort of information about themselves.” So the company does three things. One, collect all user data and put it up on one platform, which is where big data comes into play. Two, identify a good user (likely to buy a product) and a bad user (not likely to buy a product). Three, it does not stop with recommendation, like analytics. It has integrated multiple forms of advertising, like mobile advertising, through which it offers accurate marketing system with the help of big data.
“We call ourselves the performance marketing hub. It is the technology that performs and demonstrates value and that helps to differentiate us,” says Kulkarni. On the data and globalisation front, the company believes that data driven marketing is about consumer and consumer behaviour and understanding that is very critical for its success. Data and localisation are a second set of reasons that differentiate it from the rest of the players in the industry.
The company charges a license fee for the platform it provides where all the data gets aggregated. It also has a performance-marketing fee based on the channel consumption. In essence, Vizury makes money only if their clients get ROI on their marketing spends.
Speaking about challenges, Kulkarni says that there are not many global products company out of India and finding the right people to fit the role was tough. This apart, the company deals with a lot of data and the infrastructure and security part of the same was critical. Finally, getting people to adapt to the quick-paced changes in the industry and making an impact on an ongoing basis is something the company has to work on constantly.
Being a trendsetter
Operating in this area where data and technology are shaping the consumer marketing and advertising industries, Kulkarni is seeing many new trends that are helping Vizury capitalise on the growing market. “For instance, there is a lot of personalisation that is happening,” explains Kulkarni. Earlier when you went to a bank ATM the screen was the same for everyone. Now, your last withdrawal amount is shown. Personalisation is very high and data and technology are being used to impact marketing.
Another important factor that plays a role in the company’s growth is credentials. “Earlier consumers used to walk into a store where brands and marketers would engage with them. But now how do you ensure that you use all the data to know about the user and to predict his usage patterns?” asks Kulkarni. He believes that prediction is a critical part of big data marketing.
Real time engagement has also become very crucial. “If you see the way technology is built, every month it would identify the spending pattern and data of users which will help companies come up with a marketing campaign for a specific purpose. Now, it is all about the current hour and minute. How do I get information about consumer behaviour as of the last minute, last day, to be able to engage with them better? The real time engagement of users, utilisation of data in the real time is important.” he elaborates.
To capitalise on this growing market the company offers one-to-one marketing.
Speaking the same language
For Vizury, marketing during its early days involved taking advantage of any opportunity that came by without compromising on the quality of their product. “Though we did not have a marketing budget, because of the work we did we started getting multiple referral clients,” recalls Kulkarni. Now, the message and medium has changed as the company is global. At present, his biggest concern is that every employee should communicate the same message about the company. “Communication to the external world comes later. We are trying to ensure that everyone speaks the same language,” states he.
The market in which the company operates is a growing market with an estimated budget of more than US $100 billion in online advertising and Big Data analytics space.. “We are the intersection of both these markets; data analytics and big data on one side and marketing and advertising on the other,” says Kulkarni. And the company has seen good traction in the market so far. “More importantly, our clients like our ability to offer value for technology. Many companies stop with a set of analytics systems. We take the data and apply it on advertising channels out there and demonstrate the impact,” he says. The quality of people the company hires also creates a lot of value for the advertiser. With its team and strategy in place, the company is aiming to become the primary player in the marketing hub space over the next few years and believes the development in the market and new product launches will drive its growth. “Our aspiration is to become a US $500 million company,” says Kulkarni, on a concluding note.
Snapshot – Vizury
Founders: Gourav Chindlur, Chetan Kulkarni and Vikram Nayak
Year of Incorporation: 2008
Funding: Series C funds to the tune of US $16 million from Intel Capital, Nokia, Ascent and Inventus; US $9-million Series B, US $2 million Series-A
Company Profile: The company specializes in big data-based marketing; it enables a client to take user-specific marketing action, based on data.