Here’s how Delhi-based IoT startup DataCultr is helping enterprises connect, control, and analyse data
Let’s imagine a bank lends a certain amount to an individual to buy the latest smartphone. The only way it can track the customer is his interest payments; if the payments stop and the customer absconds, the bank has to write the loan off as a loss. Delhi-based IoT startup DataCultr wants to change this and more. The bootstrapped company’s deep device analytics platform aims to capture every “heartbeat of an Android device” and mine the data to create actionable usage insights.
To put it simply, the DataCultr platform enables enterprises to connect and control their data and devices in real-time so they can take their IoT solutions to market faster. The enterprise-grade data streaming platform for IoT is built on modern cloud-native architecture.
In the case of the smartphone user, DataCultr algorithms inside the device let the bank lock the screen of the phone if the borrower defaults multiple times or extends his monthly interest payment deadline by more than a week. That’s the power of data, harnessed right.
Founded by Sujoy Ghosh and Neel Juriasingani in 2016, DataCultr was born out of a company that had built a real-time bidding platform for apps. The duo, who knew each other since 2008 when they worked together in Airtel, had set up Claymotion Technologies in 2012, which aimed to tap the explosive growth of apps in the early part of the decade.
However, the co-founders soon realised that the smartphone ecosystem in India was very dependent on the Chinese ecosystem when it came to data and updates.
"Our experience in telecommunication organisations helped us understand the ecosystem and analyse what the infrastructure was lacking. Interestingly, the partners and vendors of these OEMs were mostly either based out of China or were backed by some Chinese firm, leaving them with no control and no technological know-how,” says Neel.
“We saw this as a huge opportunity to build multiple things from the ground-up. We brainstormed on what could be done to fill the gaps and what kind of products could be brought to market," he adds.
Navigating the data maze
To put Neel's quote in perspective, most IoT devices have connection strings to modules built in China. But with DataCultr, the data is encrypted and protected. All data flow between an IoT device and the enterprise needs to be managed without being broken into, and DataCultr does this real-time monitoring. It offers connectivity, data collection, configuration management, over-the-air updates, device management, data visualisation, and command execution.
The startup works with mobile companies, IoT firms, and the financial services industry.
"It’s still early days for IoT in India, and most of the world, but we are trying to build specific solutions on top of the IoT middleware platform,” Neel says.
The startup claims to offer a host of advantages, including multiple deployment options, gateway support, flexible microservice architecture, and end-to-end encryption and security.
DataCultr also helps mobile companies to understand diagnostics of customer phones and avoid customer walk-ins to service centres.
Solutions that make a difference
Its solutions in the financial inclusion space include Odyssey, which helps banks and NBFCs to reduce their credit risk on first-time customers, with no credit scores or collaterals to give away. Express, a messaging platform for IoT, offers a protocol and cloud-agnostic approach towards IoT, and lets organisations have complete control on their data, decide where they would like to host it, and not depend on any third-party service.
Data is vital and real-time decision making and communication are the crux of any IoT solution: this is what Express promises to help clients with.
The challenge for enterprises is to seamlessly integrate sensors, in devices gathering information about user or machine behaviour, like with enterprise applications. For that, they typically go to one of the large players, be it AWS or Google, and choose their IoT solution.
“We have seen that for any simple or complicated IoT use case, organisations put together 12-14 components and write custom codes on top this. It takes around six to eight months to put everything together and take to market as a simple proof of concept. There are challenges from security of data and device to whether the RoI can be measured and sustained," Neel says.
DataCultr come in as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) where businesses plug in their devices at one end and their enterprise applications at the other (they have APIs for enterprise applications). It offers a plugin that integrates with the OS (for the sensor).
How does this actually work? Let’s consider DataCultr's fintech solution. The sensor, in this case, is an Android smartphone and the enterprise application is the loan management system of a bank/NBFC. The platform allows the lender to lend money to unbanked/underbanked people, while managing risk and detecting fraud using the smartphone.
On IoT, the startup claims to take a PoC live in a month as compared to the six to eight months it took clients earlier.
The numbers game
Sujoy and Neel invested Rs 2 crore of their own money to build the platform. They have scaled to more than 10 customers, but do not want to disclose revenues at this stage.
“DataCultr is a PaaS; we work on an annuity business model. We intend to build long-term relations with our clients,” Neel says.
According to a new study published by Polaris Market, the global Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market is anticipated to reach $771.72 billion by 2026. Industries worldwide are looking for new business models to construct a connected enterprise and merge their operational and information departments. This transformation is expected to enhance overall productivity, operational efficiency, and visibility, while decreasing the complexities of diverse procedures.
Expansion on the cards
The startup competes with other companies like BSquare, Ayla, Bosch IoT Suite, and Predix. A number of big companies operate in this space globally, but DataCultr thinks it can score due to its “startup pricing and Indian geography-based solutions”.
It was recently selected by Microsoft for its “Microsoft for Startups” programme. It is also part of the Google Cloud for Startups, and hope to leverage the strengths of these organisations to deliver a platform that is truly world class.
Over the next 18 months, DataCultr plans to expand to other geographies, specifically South East Asia and Africa, with their Odyssey platform. It aims to leverage industry partnerships and associations with organisations like NASSCOM, IAMAI, and Startup India.
“We also plan to raise our first institutional investment in the next few months,” Neel says.