Bengaluru-based startup uses deep-tech to decipher human emotions and help brands optimise their products
Most brands invest large amounts of time and money to create advertisements and attract the audience through sponsored promotions. Incorporating the feedback they get from consumers, they ensure that their content aligns with them on an emotional and relatable level.
When 32-year-old Ranjan Kumar was running his previous adtech startup Red Castle from 2012 to 2015, he understood that there could be a way to retrieve users’ emotions, thereby deciphering their preferences and interests.
With his new startup Entropik Tech, he decided to use Emotion AI to create a solution that is an easy-fit for any production cycle, a platform that offers valuable subconscious insights and prediction data to brands.
“Pre-testing is rarely a part of the process and is done only through traditional techniques like surveys that focus only on the conscious part of the brain. Consumer behaviour research by emotion recognition technology is required to decode a consumer’s subconscious,” says Ranjan.
A chemical engineering graduate from IIT Kharagpur, Ranjan Kumar had founded two startups earlier - Oye Party and Red Castle - that he shut down in 2014 and 2015 respectively to start Entropik Tech.
Before starting Entropik Tech, Ranjan headed Business Development at Citrus Payments. He met his co-founder Bharat Singh when he hired him as his first developer at OyeParty in 2012. Bharat built the entire technology stack there. Ranjan met with the other Co-founder Lava Kumar through a mutual friend. In February 2016, he started Entropik Tech and raised seed funding of $200,000 that year.
Two years later, in July 2018, the startup raised its pre-series A round with $1.1 million from Bharat Innovation Fund and Parampara Capital.
What is Emotion AI?
Emotion AI is artificial intelligence which is also emotionally perceptive. Artificial intelligence is a very complex web of logical decision-making intelligence based on ‘if-else’ rules, crafted to decipher an outcome based on vast possibilities of logical permutations of choices. AI’s accuracy is perceived in its natural ability to be logically correct.
Ranjan explains further, “Humans are emotional beings and all our interactions are a derivative of emotional context and connect. Hence, if at all AI has to evolve to a mutually synergetic man-machine interaction, we believe that it should evolve towards understanding the emotional context of logic.”
While a large chunk of analytics is being built around customers’ conscious response through surveys, feedback forms, 95 percent of human decision-making is subconscious in nature.
Entropik’s Emotion AI platform uses proprietary technologies like brainwave mapping, facial coding, and eye tracking as the users watch an advertisement, experiences a product, or makes any purchase in a retail store.
How does the technology work?
With a use-it-yourself pricing model, a brand can upload any experience, like an advertisement, UX of an app, or a product experience they want to test. The pricing is dependent on the number of campaigns the brands choose to run with the product.
“A specific target audience is picked for the brands that they want to test Emotion AI on. The tests are taken by a curated global respondent panel,” says Ranjan.
The users who undertake the test have their neural responses, facial expressions, and eye-tracking monitored in real-time on the platform. The subsequent emotion analytics are available second-by-second for the brand owners on the dashboard.
Observing how the users responded neurally to each second in the advertisement, deep insights are generated to understand which elements of the product resonate with the audience and those that do not. This allows brands to better optimise their products before the actual launch.
When asked about privacy concerns and data sharing, Ranjan says this experience-testing is done on focus groups and panel respondents who are willing to take the tests, and are aware that their data is recorded. Various applications of Emotion AI include recruitment, medical diagnosis and assistance, evaluation of loans, customer service, automobile passenger safety, ROI optimisation for marketers and many others.
Reading consumers’ subconscious behaviour
Entropik Tech is the technology provider for some of India’s largest market research intelligence companies like Kantar, Kadence, IPSOS. Historically, these MR firms have relied on quantitative and qualitative surveys to get consumer feedback - conscious stated responses via surveys or focus group interactions.
The platform augments their capability to read consumers’ subconscious behaviour, giving a more comprehensive read on consumer’s buying patterns. MR firms use it for retail experience measurement, digital experience measurement, product testing, and ad-testing.
For media houses, Entropik Tech helps broadcasters optimise their content plan by helping them assign right media weightage for different target segments. On the creative side, it provides them an early feedback on what scripts are likely to resonate with their target groups, what characters of the show are liked or disliked.
Ranjan says, “Essentially, it highlights the highs and lows of the show by analysing the variants of music, directorial cue makeovers and thus concluding the dominant emotional response the show is grabbing.”
Ranjan says that the startup is growing 2X every quarter, in terms of revenue and customer base, and has filed 12 patents in its name.
The biggest challenge for the 35-member team however is to get high quality resources with a vision to work on something challenging and fragmented. Whenever they work on a new category, a lot of time goes into consistently educating new customers.
Market landscape and potential
The startup claims to have more than 55 enterprise customers across North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. With the SaaS product, consumers can apply Entropik’s solutions to any industry vertical at any scale, from any location.
Its clientele includes GroupM, ITC, Myntra, IMRB, Kadence, Essilor, CavinKare, Xiaomi, Tata Chemicals, UB Group and TAM Media Research. Entropik Tech is also a part of accelerator programs like Accenture Ventures, Viacom18 VStEP, Intel AI Builders, Oracle Cohort and SAP.
The global emotion detection and recognition market is estimated to witness a CAGR of 32.7 percent over 2018 – 2023, driving the market to reach $24.74 billion by 2020, according to Mordor Intelligence.
In India, Nielsen is the only other company that offers brainwave mapping, facial recognition and eye tracking. However, Nielsen is more focused on lab-based methods.
On the startup future plans, Ranjan says, “So far, the focus has been on ads, media, UX, and the retail industry. Having validated the fit and scalability in multiple geographies, launching in the Middle-east and Southeast Asia is part of the plan.”
With offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and San Francisco, going forward, Ranjan wants to test the product in the automotive and edtech spaces for growth.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)