This story is sponsored by Tissot.
What happens when two close friends with a technology background get talking? Most usually launch into a litany of complaints about life, traffic and other irritants such as pesky marketing calls. Then there are those who see an opportunity in these complaints, and take a chance to follow their entrepreneurial dreams together.
The story of Anil Kumar and Girish Vishwanath, friends and colleagues for the last 20 years, is something like this. Their startup Planetworx, which just won the Tissot Signature Innovators Club Award for July 2017, solves a long-time marketing conundrum – when to cold-call a consumer to advertise something in real time, without being viewed as one of those annoying marketing calls and messages that get on everyone’s nerves.
Offering context to reach the consumer
Location based intelligence is set to transform the marketing landscape in India because of the enhanced personalization benefits that brands and marketers can deliver to customers using this technology. Customers will no longer be inundated with irrelevant and out of context messaging which is intrusive but rather feel more confident in knowing that marketers are able to decipher their interest.
A majority of retailers even today use e-mail and messaging to reach out to their target audience. Planetworx, which started in 2016, aims to change this approach with a tech intervention that will gather relevant insights about consumers, which in turn can be used by retailers to send tailor-made campaigns, offers and deals in real-time to proximity audiences.
Anil says, “We started on this journey as consumers ourselves, having been inundated with annoying messages that were often out of context and irrelevant. As career marketers with tech backgrounds, we came together to think of a tech intervention to solve the marketing problem of better targeting, something that has been the bane of brands and advertisers. We figured that by offering real-time context, in terms of the right-time, right-place and right-channel, we would be able to solve this problem for both consumer and marketers. That is how the idea came about.”
With stints at major firms including IBM, Infosys, Reliance, and Cisco, the duo has combined experience in business development, marketing, and stitching alliances along with crucial business connects to sale, all of which came in handy when they began Planetworx.
Solving an evergreen problem
Today, the startup aims to be the single-source of offline consumer location intelligence offering a real-time, last-mile and multi-channel solution. Called Trapyz, it helps brands map consumer journeys in the real world, optimise digital ad spends with contextual targeting, thereby leading to better in-store conversions.
Girish explains, “The solution provides indoor location intelligence as a core API service that can be leveraged to build various location based services. Trapyz, the act of connecting the dots, people and experiences gives real-time location-context intelligence. Trapyz Locate is an accurate indoor-detection, positioning and way-finding solution, while Trapyz Connect is a proximity targeting solution that helps inform customers about real-time contextual notifications, offers and personalised deals.”
The road till now
Like in any typical startup journey, even Planetworx has been through a roller-coaster ride. Says Anil, “The first challenge was to give shape to the idea. Once we had a rough business plan, we had to find reliable talented resources who shared the same vision. The next challenge was to find clients who would be willing to let us test this technology, and also use it for their businesses subsequently. The most heartening moments are when we meet people who clearly see the potential of the idea and how it can change the state of digital marketing in a very big way.”
Their business model is primarily SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) where they provide micro-location data as an API call and cloud-hosted analytics dashboard for visualisation. The customers get a LocationID™ for every unique device from the Trapyz platform that they pay on a per call basis. The core technology provides location intelligence that can be leveraged to build various location based services. The subscription to the cloud-hosted console and pricing is based on the level of intelligence and insights in terms of data visualisation required by the enterprise.
What is even better is that the solution is a ready to use service and requires no setup whatsoever.
“Trapyz has been beta deployed at one of the largest retail mall chains in India that operates across seven cities. It is also helping retail operations at the largest international airport in India. And, as we speak, we are also engaged in a pilot at a leading retail chain overseas. We work with the client to leverage location data and build relevant use-cases as customisation. As in the case of the large international airport, we have built a navigation use case for their requirement,” says Girish.
Anil believes that Planetworx will become the largest aggregator of contextual location data. “We plan to cover the top 5 cities in India by mid-2018 and at least 10 international venues with high footfall density by end 2018. We see ourselves set to scale to 30 million location data points a month based on our projections and being able to give marketers insights to create more engaging experiences for their customers,” he says.
“Winning this gives us great leverage and validation of our idea, and also strengthens our conviction and resolve to forge ahead. Of course a big party is in the works,” he signs off.