It took three years, two months and one day to reach the first billion tweets on Twitter. As I write this, according to Twitter’s official blog, it takes just a week for users to post a billion tweets. That’s not all. Over 800 million active users on Facebook interact with over 900 million objects – Facebook Pages, events and community pages – and on an average, 250 million photos are uploaded every day. And we’re not even counting users and activity on LinkedIn, Youtube (and hits on Kolaveri!) and numerous blogs around the world. In short, the point is, companies and brands have to follow these users onto social media, listen to them and plan marketing campaigns accordingly. However, the real challenge lies in sifting through the loads of data collected, making sense of that data and then, planning out a marketing campaign. It is for this problem – of analysing ‘big data’ from social media – that Santanu Bhattacharya, chief executive officer, Salorix, believes he has a solution for.
“Salorix is positioned at the intersection of three mega industry trends: big data, social media and marketing automation.”
“In 2009, we realised that there were three mega trends that would lay the platform for the next generation of analytics platforms,” says Bhattacharya. These trends were ‘big data’ from social media (in the form of multi-terabyte databases, mixed data formats of text, video, image and numbers), real time analytics (analysis of this data) and marketing automation (automate campaigns as much as possible based on analysis). “The emergence of these trends and the belief that the next big boom in the technology world is around the corner pushed me to start Salorix,” he shares.
Bhattacharya is not new to the world of web analytics. Prior to starting Salorix, he was Senior Director at America Online (AOL), leading their analytics centre in India and prior to that was a management consultant at A.T. Kearney, where he advised various companies including the likes of BMW, Gillette and Pepsi.
Founder: Santanu Bhattacharya
City: Santa Clara, California, and Bangalore, India
Investors: Inventus Capital Partners, Nexus Venture Partners
Amount: US $3.5 million
“Some of our customers have worked with me for the past 10 years in different capacities and I am now leveraging these relationships to offer a win-win proposition for both,” he says.
Initially, the company was self-funded and operations were bootstrapped. In 2011, Salorix received US $3.5 million in Series A funding from California-based venture firms, Inventus Capital Partners and Nexus Venture Partners. According to Bhattacharya, this funding will be used to build product development teams in India and the U.S., and for growing the operations, sales and marketing groups.
Salorix is amongst the few organisations today that address social media campaign management in an integrated manner. Typically, brands, while planning their campaigns, face two key problems: social media is multi-channel (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news etc.) and each channel has its own separate idiosyncrasy. In order to make these channels work as marketing platforms, one needs expertise in scalable, real-time systems, as well as a good understanding of how brands work. The Salorix Social Marketing Platform is an integrated solution to deliver listening, campaign planning and execution, analytics and optimisation through a single user-interface supporting these multiple channels. Its listening technology is tuned to the vertical market resulting in better insights and targeted campaigns for the brand. Apart from understanding audience aggregation and channel effectiveness, it also helps brand marketers execute, track, and measure their campaigns and activities across the board.
According to Bhattacharya, a quarter of the market consists of advanced customers who can take full advantage of the system that Salorix offers and independently run their social media campaigns. For the rest, Salorix offers operational support, helping clients with executing campaigns. Salorix has a team that consists of three categories of people – experts in ‘big data’ lead architecting and build the foundation of the system, the analytics team is charged with creating the analysis aspects of the platform and the operations team provides leadership in executing campaigns.
“Retention in our India centre is not a major problem, but the unavailability of talent is certainly a challenge,” says Bhattacharya, when asked about furthering the team’s strength. Bhattacharya considers technology one of Salorix’s strongest fortes. The technology team, which is crucial for Salorix’s success, is led by Dr. Madhu Therani, a pioneer in Natural Language Processing, machine learning and personalisation systems.
The company works with brands and publishers across multiple market segments including retail, consumer packaged goods, media, technology, healthcare and insurance. These include HP/Palm, United Online, Interactive One and Blue Shield of California. For now, most of its customers are in the U.S. and the company has just started exploring relationships with some Indian brands. In addition to working with brands, Salorix also services digital marketing agencies such as WPP’s Mediacom, OMD and Universal McCann.
“The immediate growth plan includes expansion in the U.S., U.K. and India markets, followed by a foray into the rest of the Europe and south-east asia,” says Bhattacharya. In the near term, the company plans to scale up organically and will raise further rounds of funding as required.
“While research and technology is part of the picture, we are known for providing customers with one of the most personalised solutions in the industry and this is going to be one of our core strategies (for serving customers), going forward,” says Bhattacharya, on a concluding note.
Concept in Brief
Salorix offers a social media campaign management platform that will help brands and agencies manage their digital campaigns better. Santanu Bhattacharya, CEO, Salorix, believes that the company’s ability to analyse big data (using sophisticated technology) combined with its consultative sales approach (of offering operational support and personalised solutions to clients) will help it win in this space. As discussed in this story, there is no question about the market potential in this segment. The key to Salorix’s growth will lie in executing well and ensuring that the technology algorithm works to its advantage.