Just a nudge

Consumer Tech

Nudgespot is building a product to help e-commerce companies, ‘nudge’ their customers to take a particular action. Raveen Sastry, the founder, who has worked at Babyoye and Myntra, believes he has the right features to become the ‘go to’ product for personalized communication by e-commerce firms

RAVEEN SASTRY, FOUNDER, NUDGESPOT

Unlike in a physical interaction, when a customer’s preferences and aspirations can be understood through a casual conversation, in the virtual world, customers may enter and exit your portal without a trace. While business may continue as usual, in the long run, missing out on opportunities to understand and communicate with a customer can cost the organisation dearly.

Raveen Sastry, who worked at Babyoye.com, Hoopos.com and Myntra, found that due to portals being accessed from multiple devices, tracking and interacting with customers was a big challenge – especially in the niche portals focused on baby products. “Such portals need to know their customers intimately, especially details such as the age of the baby, the kind of products they prefer,” points out Sastry. Although there were communication tools, there was nothing that unified the platforms or allowed profiling of customers accessing from different channels. “The requirements of general e-commerce sites may be met by the available tools, but certain portals such as niche e-commerce, travel and healthcare will need a higher level of personalised interaction,” he adds.


The requirements of general e-commerce sites may be met by the available tools, but certain portals such as specialized e-commerce, travel and healthcare need a high level of personalised interaction.


These categories need tools that can deeply analyse user behaviour, identify the channel through which the customer entered, understand their preferences and empower the organisation to create different kinds of focused communication that will encourage the visitors to return.

Identifying this need, Sastry quit his job and started Bengaluru-based Nudgestop with four others in May 2014 to develop just such a product. The beta was released in November 2014 and it went live in February 2015. The product helps recent signups navigate; proactively helping those with specific requests. It also plays a role in cross-selling and up-selling, and even helping a customer find a particular product.

At a market level, Sastry estimates that the market for such high value e-commerce sites is large, touching US $20 billion globally, and he aspires to make Nudgespot the tool of choice to enable personalized communication and interaction.

Gaining reach

The company, initially self-funded, has received $650,000 in a seed round led by Kae Capital and angel investors in March 2015. Initially, the company adopted cold calling to approach customers during the beta stage. Subsequently, the success of the product has enabled it to expand its customer base. It now has 50 active customers and has been growing at eight per cent week-on-week. The funding also helped it expand to the U.S. where it has found great demand for its product. “U.S. is a more evolved market for high-touch e-businesses and we are getting a lot of enquiries from there,” says Sastry. One of the co-founders has shifted base to the U.S. to service this market.

Nudgespot’s product is available for bootstrapped ventures and larger ventures. A SaaS-based product, it can be integrated with the client’s system with help provided online during the installation phase. Currently, the product unifies communication received from different channels on one platform, providing a complete picture of the customers’ behaviour. Analytic features are also integrated with the tool.

However, Sastry admits it is still early days. Based on feedback, the company is working on several enhancements.  The product will facilitate two-way communication between customers and portals, facilitating conversation instead of just push communication. The company also intends to sharpen its mobile strategy, enabling a similar experience on mobile devices.

Asking the right questions

Sastry stresses that right from the idea stage, it is important for entrepreneurs to evaluate what critical need they intend to address and who the target customers are. “Though this seems very obvious, the question ‘is this really a problem and for whom?’ should not be forgotten. It is the toughest part, because the idea can be exciting for the entrepreneur but not for the market,” he explains.

The second important factor for startups is to choose their employees wisely. Nudgespot itself has a small team – apart from the four co-founders, they have around five members in engineering, marketing and usability.

One of the greatest challenges the company faced was in finding a usability expert. “Maybe we didn’t look hard enough, but we didn’t find UX (user experience) talent very easily in India. When we found a suitable candidate in the US, we immediately hired him,” says Sastry.

Currently, the bulk of Nudgespot customers are from the U.S., Europe and India. Sastry believes there is great potential in Southeast Asia, especially Japan. But the company will first stabilise its existing markets and let the product evolve before it enters new markets. “But that day is not far off,” he says with confidence.


Snapshot 

Venture: Nudgespot

Founder: Raveen Sastry

Year of founding: May 2014

Investors: Kae Capital and angel investors

Focus: Personalized communication tool for e-commerce portals

Meera Srikant has been working with publishers and publications since 1993, writing and editing articles, features and stories across topics. She also blogs and writes poems, novels and short stories during leisure. Writing for The Smart CEO since 2010, she is also a classical dancer.

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