How K-Startup Challenge gave Text Mercato confidence in the universal ability of their content & cataloguing solutions to work across geographies
The advent of e-commerce also brought with it the need for digital catalogues that can attract buyers’ attention and give them more information about the products. In fact, since customers don’t get to actually see or touch the item before buying, the onus is on these online catalogues to positively influence the customers’ buying decision.
“With growing e-commerce needs, a number of solutions that cater to this space came into existence. However, while these solutions skim the surface of the online cataloguing market, they often suffer from poor quality and lack adequate founder expertise in the area. There is also a lack of tech play with the solutions involving laborious manual processes, while being expensive and inaccurate,” says Kiran Ramakrishna, co-founder of Bengaluru-based startup Text Mercato.
Proprietary technology which makes the process faster, better and cost-efficient
Text Mercato helps brands scale their content and cataloguing needs, ranging from product listings to blogs, by incorporating technology to make the process faster, better and more cost-efficient. The company was founded by Subhajit Mukherjee, Nanda Kishore and Kiran in 2015, and initially started off as a content solutions provider. Their proprietary tool weaves together machine learning models like image recognition, data extraction and a workflow that addresses varied needs. They also have a programmable CMS which makes it agile enough to work across various situations.
Text Mercato also offers creative content for clients through a custom platform that has the ability to manage content at scale. Among other distinct features, the system can auto check for keywords, plagiarism, word count and manage the content structure.
Today, they have transformed from a content provider to a content technology company with over 276 clients and varied products in the content and cataloguing domain. They have 40 employees and 3,000+ writers on board.
“The team has performed exceptionally well to hold fort and grow – so the contribution has come from across people and levels,” says Kiran.
Access to newer markets, and a new funding ecosystem
Text Mercato was part of the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2018, an annual initiative by the Korean government that offers startups a global platform to showcase their innovative solutions and give them support to enter the robust Asian market.
He says, “We believe that a team has to constantly evolve and learn, and sell in markets they know and understand markets that they don’t know to evaluate opportunities. So the challenge gave us access to newer markets, access to a new funding ecosystem with Korean investors getting active in India, and the opportunity to learn more about a new culture. The experience was excellent. A journey is complete when you can grow professionally and personally, and this is exactly what we got in Korea. The K-Start team helped us through most of the needs that a new company has to settle into the country and also helped understand the people, their culture, food and much more."
Talking about why they decided to apply to the challenge, Kiran explains, “The need for our product is universal and can be implemented across languages. Korea is a consumer market and one that has high spending capacity. This automatically makes the country interesting for what we do. Access to a paying market, access to funding and base to expand into East Asia and Southeast Asia are some of the reasons we decided to choose Korea.”
Confidence to expand geographical footprint
Sharing how Text Mercato benefitted from participating in the K-Startup Grand Challenge, Kiran says, “The company gained exposure about the country, and how to do business here, among others. Sometimes, the benefit cannot be classified just in terms of numbers of clients they have, but in terms of the connections made and learning gained, and so much more. I believe being a part of this program has brought the country closer as a market than it ever was, some client discussions and investor connections are growing in a positive direction.”
According to him, their biggest transformation after the challenge came when they became confident about the ability of their product to work across geographical barriers. “It gave us confidence about exploring markets outside India, and traditional market for SaaS companies like the United States. This helped us continue to clients in the Middle East, Europe, Singapore and more.”
And they plan to continue on this geographical growth path while also scaling the business in Korea itself. “We still have a base in Korea, as the government continues to support us in areas such as finding office spaces, access to funding etc. We have some client and investor discussions at the moment, so the benefit is multi-fold. Text Mercato continues to expand into newer geographies – we sell in seven different countries consistently each month.”