When consumers go shopping today to a store, they get personal attention to their needs. They are provided with choices that suit them and the assistance they can rely on to make a choice. Indian startup MineWhat aims to provide a similar experience and assistance for online shops, with their ecommerce analytics app which goes live later this month (January 2014). Ahead of the full public release of MineWhat, YourStory interacted with Janakiram Ganesan, CEO and Co-Founder, Pavan Kumar, CTO and Co-Founder, and Ebenezer Giftalin, Consumer Evangelist, of MineWhat, about how they plan to change the online shopping experience.
What is the idea behind MineWhat? What does it do for e-commerce stores?
Picture this, you walk into a retail showroom and right away you are faced with an enormous array of choices, but the store uses their observation of your shopping behavior to keep you engaged and to push you along to a purchase. The MineWhat analytics app recreates this for eCommerce stores, we give out actionable insights on the product-shopper interactions on every SKU, Brand and Category in their stores, and help them convert more of their visitors into buyers.
Where does MineWhat come from? What are its antecedents?
As far as antecedents go, Google Analytics is the big one and that applies pretty much for most of the current day analytics startups. Analytics today (those that eCommerce firms use) largely fit into these sections: Click stream analysis, event analysis, user analysis and shopper analysis. While these are certainly useful, they leave out something core to eCommerce firms: products. That’s where we fit in. MineWhat analyses product-shopper interactions and overlays the insights gained on top of each SKU, Brand, and Category, so that eCommerce marketers, decision-makers, merchandisers and others have a clear line to the actions they need to take.
How are you different from your competitors?
We don’t have competition in the traditional sense, and can work alongside other analytics tools while providing unique value. Companies that share the same general space include Adobe Omniture, Google Analytics, Mixpanel and Kissmetrics. But there are key differences between them and MineWhat.
Most clickstream analytics tools are very good at giving a bird’s eye view of the proceedings. MineWhat focusses on exactly what’s going on, down to the SKU level. Say you want to see which locations generate the most traffic to your store. Clickstream analysis (like Google Analytics) will offer you a distribution of your traffic from each location. On MineWhat, the top products from the top-ranked locations are pulled up too, so you have a clear line to the action you need to take.
While a focus on user actions is definitely useful for regular websites, it wouldn’t make much sense for ecommerce stores unless there’s a strong connect to product understanding, and MineWhat does just that. The app is essentially shopper analytics overlaid on top of products or product groups.
For more detailed information on how MineWhat compares to specific competitors, please referhttps://minewhat.com/why
How and in what circumstances did you startup?
Both of us (Janakiram Ganesan and Pavan Kumar) have always wanted to do something by ourselves away from the typical corporate grind. The intention behind MineWhat came out of the eCommerce boom around 2010 – 2011. We had friends who had started up with eCommerce firms of their own and our observations and conversations with people in the industry led us to the conclusion that we should do something to add value to the eCommerce industry, instead of starting another eCommerce firm.
MineWhat in its initial avatar was a product discovery service. While we did have enough traction (and got the Intel App4India award for this), we quickly realised the Indian ecosystem wasn’t quite mature yet for it. We had to go global. That, and the fact that Arkansas is the retail hub, made us look for specific opportunities there and join The Ark Incubator in Fayetville.
By the end of 2012, we had picked up pilot customers, and at the start of 2013 raised 250K USD. We then refined the product further with feedback, and in August 2013 had a limited public release. We have had 50 odd signups since then, and the fully public product release is slated for late January.
Tell us about your core team.
Janakiram Ganesan (Ram), CEO & Co-founder, handles strategy and business development and ensures that the product makes sense for customers, along with programming as necessary.
Pavan Kumar (Pavan), CTO & Co-founder, handles all things tech at MineWhat: Programming, project execution, scalability and data management.
Ebenezer Giftalin (Eby), Consumer Evangelist, works along with Ram on the marketing and business development, and handles content and content-based marketing efforts.
What are your challenges and how are you tackling them?
Visibility is a bit of a challenge. We’re working on ranking high on organic search results. Things are looking good on that front and that should help with the visibility. We might also come up with some freebies based on the app to offset that problem.
Most analytics solutions, us included, have a bit of a cold start problem. That is, we cannot give out any insights right off the bat and customers usually have to wait for a while until we collect sufficient data. This makes it harder to convince and retain people after the free trial period. To work around this, we’ve set up a Google analytics plugin so that eCommerce stores can see insights shortly after installation.
What is the most enjoyable aspect for you in coming out with MineWhat?
Doing our bit to ensure that analytics doesn’t have to be just for analysts, that it can be easy to set-up, easy to use, easy to interpret and will lead to action.
How big is your market?
We intend to go after the US market first and then also cater parallely to the domestic market after a little while.
The product is aimed primarily at medium-sized eCommerce firms. Data from Internet Retailer and other sources indicate that there are over 100K mid-sized eCommerce firms in the US and they generate revenue to the order of 46 Billion USD every year. The yearly spend on tools is around 8%, so the target market size will be around 3.6 Billion USD every year.
How do you plan to scale?
We will soon start with full on customer acquisition both via direct sales and inbound marketing (as soon as we go live). We are working with a kickass team of sales consultants in the US, so they can get the legwork done and get customers in the door. We’ve always believed that the market is the most honest mentor you can find, so future optimization and actions will be influenced by market situations.