Small town, big dreams and building the ‘Google for technology enterprises’
Aspirations, that’s what small cities are made of.
Hailing from the small town of Rourkela, Anup Sahoo decided he wanted to start something of his own during the first year of his engineering course. “Odisha and the areas around form the hub of core businesses like manufacturing and mining, not software. And I felt the need to get out to witness more gaining better perspectives and experiences,” he says.
His aspirations become obvious when Anup talks about the power of software: “There is something empowering about software. It enables businesses, smoothens the processes and gives lives to industries.”
He is trying to build something that he calls the ‘Google for enterprise technology information’. Through his B2B platform Ideapoke, he aspires to organise the world’s technology information, while providing technology solutions for companies.
How does it work?
Similar to Google, the platform is a search engine which crawls through the web and mines data from university blogs, scientific papers, USPTOs (United States Patent and Trademark Office) and Europe PTOs, to name a few.
When a corporate signs up, they post a suggested problem and the platform at the back-end suggests solution matching the requirements.
Started in 2012 by Anup and and Sanjay Sahoo, the platform went live in April 2014. In a little more than a year, this ‘open innovation’ platform has already closed about a million listings from 76,000 companies and more than 1,900 universities.
Currently, the platform focusses on verticals like consumer Internet of Things (IoT) encapsulating wearables, sensors and chemicals for FMCG, while other verticals like packaging, manufacturing, personal care and food and beverages are catching up.
Out of the Fortune 1000, more than 20 companies are already registered on the platform, with seven of them being recurring patrons.
Apart from the search engine, there are three other verticals on the platform- Trigger Generator, Technology Landscaping and Enterprise Connect.
Trigger Generators aggregates newer ideas and innovations happening across the world on the platform while Technology Landscaping creates reports displaying information on what’s happening, with a roundup of a certain field like manufacturing or packaging.
On the other hand, Enterprise Connect was one of the previous revenue generators for Ideapoke. The software brings vendors and employees together on one platform to pitch ideas for an innovation. Possessing a review tool, the employer can review the ideas and think of ways to align them with the vision of the enterprise.
The revenue model for the platform is divided between searches and transaction closed. For search, the package includes six and 32 queries annually with an average ticket size of USD 10,000 for each query solved.
There are also solution providers on the platform that can register for free. However, moving forward, there will be premium membership introduced. The second source of revenue for the firm would be collaborations. If a certain problem-seeker wants to collaborate with a solution provider, a part of the commission will go to Ideapoke.
Started with more than USD 5,00,000 as seed capital, the platform is looking to engage more corporates taking the count to 50 by the end of 2016. Moreover, with around 60 queries solved till now, the platform is gunning to solve around 180 queries and account revenue of almost USD one million by the end of the next year.
On the product front, the firm plans to provide information on the latest trends coming up and searched for, followed by pre-defined templates for posting problems. This will not only speed up the process of posting queries but also provide insights to individuals on what’s trending in the world of technology.
On posting a certain query, users will be able to shortlist from a list of suggested partners working on the problem, suggested immediately after a query is posted.
Anup says, “The bigger vision is to create an ecosystem for innovation and get more stakeholders on to the platform to make open innovation collaboration a reality.” On asking Anup, why he chose India he concludes by saying,
“While I was at 3M, I was always thinking on what’s fostering in their culture which makes them one of the top innovative companies of the world. That’s what I wanted to bring to India. Something, which catalyses the innovation culture and addresses the gap in the ecosystem.”
Today, Ideapoke is a team of 14 members split between offices in San Jose and Bengaluru.