Leveraging AI and ML, this woman entrepreneur is helping companies make data-driven recommendations
Entrepreneur Sudeshna Datta believes that while a lot of people are talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI), only a few are making the best use of the technology.
“Industries had a problem in getting actionable insights to navigate through everyday business challenges while retaining a competitive edge. We saw AI as the solution and assessed its real value addition and decided to expand capabilities around it,” she shares.
Founded in 2001, Absolutdata began by harnessing data and analytics to create a scalable impact for businesses and has incorporated technologies like AI and ML over the years. It aims to help organisations and businesses make the right decision by providing data-driven recommendations and solutions for sales and marketing teams.
“Think of it as a GPS for decision-making. A GPS can tell you where you are, where you need to go, and which paths you should take to get there. That’s exactly what we’re doing for sales and marketing teams, and making the right recommendations is the most critical part of that,” she shares
The San Francisco-based company has a team of 400 professionals including data scientists, engineers, and analytics experts across its offices in New York, Chicago, London, Singapore, Dubai, Gurugram, and Pune.
How it works
Absolutdata (which stands for ‘absoluteness of data’) provides a host of AI-enabled solutions through its engine NAVIK AI Platform.
The solutions include NAVIK SalesAI that empowers a salesperson with AI-based sales guidance, hyper-personalised marketing platform NAVIK MarketingAI, algorithmic platform to advance market research NAVIK ResearchAI, and trade promotion intelligence solution NAVIK TradeAI.
Other solutions like NAVIK MicroMods acts as a plug-n-play ML algorithm harnessing AI wherever needed, and ASK NAVIK is a virtual assistant with a simple interface that helps answer business questions from multiple sources, including company dashboards, databases, documents, and reports.
Along with this, it also provides several analytical services like Marketing Analytics, Customer Analytics, and Research Analytics. The price is determined by client requirements and the nature of the deployment.
The solutions are designed to meet the individual client requirements as opposed to approaching with a one-size-fits-all model.
The B2B venture counts on any business willing to invest in AI solutions. It has catered to Fortune 1000 companies in 60 countries across industries of hospitality, retail, technology, pharma, telecom, and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), among others.
Funding and the market landscape
Sudeshna says that the scope and opportunities for deploying AI are unlimited, which has also led to the consumption and delivery of analytics to evolve in the last decade, and users expect more sophisticated solutions to their business problems.
The increasing talent and product innovation in the field of analytics, as well as increased awareness among business organisations, are making it easier and challenging for the startup at the same time. However, Absolutdata claims to future proof a client’s analytics applications while a majority of analytics service providers are focussed on helping the enterprises make the transition.
Co-founders Anil Kaul, Sudeshna Datta, and Suhale Kapoor, Absolutdata was kickstarted with their collective savings. In 2012, the startup raised $20 million (Rs 110 crore) from Fidelity Growth Partners India.
While the co-founder did not share revenue numbers, Absolutdata claims to be ‘extremely profitable’.
Sudeshna recalls that being as a technologist in a male dominant environment 20 years ago was daunting. Despite having a progressive and liberal upbringing, she says, “I have been subjected to discrimination, regressive mentality, some passing comments, and ‘watercooler jokes’ with a pseudo-apologetic “Don’t mind, but…” or something similar.”
But, the entrepreneur made sure to not let these things get in her way. Soon after completing her MBA from Cornell University, Sudeshna had decided that she would build something of her own and took the plunge after a few years of working in corporate companies.
Speaking from two decades of experience, she says that entrepreneurship is no easy task and will hit ‘the storm of a lifetime’ to all, irrespective of gender.
COVID-19 and the future
Absolutdata weathered its share of challenges brought on by COVID-19 such as cash flow crunch and stressed revenues.
Sudeshna believes that the faster one fails, the faster they’ll start to succeed. The startup had to shift its entire operations overnight to work remotely. Over time, it also had to lay off a part of the workforce and make some structural changes and is now moving towards growth.
Being flexible in realigning its focus areas, reprioritising actions, and pivoting without regret helped.
The lesson the entrepreneur learnt from the pandemic is to take care of cash. “While common sense dictates to preserve the little cash you have to weather the storm, a period of crisis was a good time to invest in long-term opportunities for us,” she shares, adding that they invested in marketing solutions.
To steer its growth, Absolutdata has been educating clients on how to leverage AI and make it central to the decision-making process. It also aims to develop a comprehensive platform that encompasses facets of decision-making across sales, marketing, supply chain, finance, manufacturing, and operations.
Moving ahead, it hopes to partner with the best-in-class service providers of AI to power its AI-based analytical frameworks.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta