Nimesh Mehta spent years researching the benefits of a Google-like search architecture for enterprises before launching Rockmetric, which simplifies access to insights, personalises the intuition layer, and offers enterprise-grade scale.
At a glance:
Founder: Nimesh Mehta
Founded in: 2015
Where it is located: Mumbai
The problem they solve: Automates analyses and insights with a “natural language search” interface for business leaders.
Michael Dell, the Chairman and CEO of Dell, recently said: “AI is a rocket ship fuelled by data.” This statement could not have come at a more appropriate time as the world is indeed being transformed by software and digital transformation.
Businesses have realised they need AI at every level of the game to drive outcomes. They need it to run their data centres and networks efficiently; they need it to draw data from several applications and present information that is actionable to business teams. Several startups have been focusing on this data journey. Some are going after contact centres and customer service while others are building AI to understand business outcomes on a day-to-day basis. Mumbai-based Rockmetric wants to help businesses use insights faster.
Founded by Nimesh Mehta, Rockmetric is a “cognitive data analyst” that automates analysis and insights with a “natural language search” interface. An NLS interface is nothing but a search where the code crawls into the database and presents the person with any information based on a query. Kind of like Google, actually.
With Rockmetric, large enterprises can now deliver sophisticated analysis and ad-hoc queries at scale instantly without having to expand reporting and analytics teams. Business teams can put in queries such as “Why did sales for product dip in London during May?”, “Which are the top account managers by target achievement rate? or “Information on business review for Mumbai”.
“The platform automatically understands user queries, analyses data, and delivers beautiful charts, descriptive insights, and complex analysis instantly,” Nimesh says. He adds that these insights are securely delivered across modern interfaces like search on mobile/web, chat, email, APIs, and voice.
The early days
Nimesh worked closely with senior business leaders as a management consultant and also as a leader of a research cell at Indian School of Business. He had corporate experience of 14 years before founding Rockmetric.
“I was always amazed at the amount of time highly talented analysts, researchers, and PhDs had to spend on evaluating data for even routine analysis. I always wondered why we don’t have a Google-like search for data,” he says.
Nimesh had a great stint heading a research cell at ISB with a research grant of $2 million to develop high-impact financial and technology innovations to kick-start the market for skill development. One of their innovations, a Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Skill Development (CGFSD), was approved by the Union Cabinet in 2012-13.
To Nimesh’s advantage, he had also worked on a couple of products using technologies like speech recognition, natural language processing, and search and gesture recognition in his previous stint as an entrepreneur soon after completing MBA from ISB. This exposure provided the building blocks that helped him to start Rockmetric.
“We started early work on the company in April 2015 and joined Zone Startups India. We officially registered the company only in October 2015,” Nimesh says. Being a privately held company the company did not want to disclose its financials.
Nimesh’s earlier products with speech, search, and gesture recognition did not take off as the market was not ready. “I did not believe that the market was ready in 2015 for an AI-driven analytics product. So, we started with a simpler analytics product and started working with mid-sized customers. The early prototype was very basic and had to compete in highly competitive market,” he adds.
However, things started to change by October 2016. Companies started warming up to Alexa, Siri, and AI-powered assistants. At the same time, Rockmetric started collaborating with Microsoft and got into the Barclays RISE program in October 2016. This was a fillip and the company began to be noticed in the business community.
Rockmetric then decided to focus and spend the next 12-18 months to build and enhance the current version of the product. “It was tough to get customers to bet on the technology in the early days. However, we managed to get several forward-looking business leaders to run pilots and they soon realised the potential of Rockmetric and the value-add it brings to decision-making and performance monitoring. Today, several of those companies are our customers,” he says. Rockmetric is a ten member team.
The business model
Rockmetric has 25 paying customers now and revenues will kick in this financial year in full scale.
The team started with a plug-and-play SaaS business model for small to mid-size companies. However, they soon realised that 75 percent of the market value is derived from large customers. Their aspiration is to get senior-most business leaders to use their platform to monitor their teams and operations.
“We soon moved to an Enterprise SaaS model that is working really well for us. We work with partners to target mid-sized customers. We will also have deep product integrations with global products to reach out to SMB customers,” Nimesh says.
Rockmetric is collaborating with consulting firms, IT services majors, and media agencies to help them deliver value to their large customers. They are also rolling out select product partnerships and reseller programs to reach out to mid-size customers. Microsoft has been a partner in their journey; their support has helped them to scale up significantly. The business model is pay per query or an annual licensing fee model.
“We are now collaborating with them and their partners to establish our presence in the Asia-Pacific region, starting with Singapore. Our solution is deployed on the Azure IaaS and uses Azure Machine Learning Services. We are also integrated with Outlook, Office365, and Microsoft Kaizala,” Nimesh says.
The road ahead
According to IDC, the business analytics market is going to be $200 billion by 2020. Specifically, existing end-user query and reporting tools will contribute about $60 billion by 2020.
“We are hopeful that our platform will expand this market significantly. We will democratise access to automated ad-hoc insights through modern natural language interfaces like search, chat, and voice,” Nimesh says.
Today, hardly 5-10 percent of business users get access to tools for insights. Rockmetric competes with cognitive analytics tool from one of the world’s largest technology companies. Companies like Euler Systems, Lymbyc, Reflektion, and Scoredata are using AI to build data-based intelligence for business outcomes. Rockmetric hopes to get long term contracts with clients and generate revenues.
Naganand Doraswamy, Founder of IdeaSpring Capital, says: “These businesses need enormous scale and need to have the pricing right to make steady revenues in the long run.”
India is waking up to good product stories in 2018. And leading the way are entrepreneurs like Nimesh who sweat it out on R&D to build cognitive capabilities that help businesses use data efficiently.