They personalized Amazon. Now their startup has raised $1.1M to do it for other ecommerce sites

It happened just weeks after Tech in Asia profiled TargetingMantra, an Indian startup that arms ecommerce companies with Amazon-like personalization tools to lure, coax, and help consumers loosen their purse strings online. The startup has raised a seed funding round of US$1.1 million from a star-studded investor lineup: 500 Startups, Nexus Venture Partners, and One97 Mobility Fund.
They personalized Amazon. Now their startup has raised $1.1M to do it for other ecommerce sites
Angel investors Rajan Anandan, MD OF Google India, Ankur Warikoo, head of Groupon Asia-Pacific, and Gaurav Agarwal, former MD of Farmville, also came on board as advisors. Personalization in ecommerce is about delivering tailored shopping experiences to make consumers buy more.
This is done through algorithms which track online buying behavior and mine insights. The data is used to recommend products that are relevant to the shopper intelligently. This requires analytics horsepower, often beyond the reach of small ecommerce companies.
TargetingMantra, founded by former data scientists at Amazon, is changing that. Saurabh Nangia, co-founder of TargetingMantra, tells Tech in Asia: “Our tools easily integrate with any ecommerce site. We have built a one-click personalization feature, which even non-technical people can use to launch an Amazon-like recommendation engine.” Most estores today offer a lot of choices to shoppers.
Scouting for the perfect product can be a tiresome experience. “Recommending only the most relevant products helps buyers make purchase decisions quickly and create a great customer experience,” Nangia explains. Amazon was one of the first ecommerce companies to get a team of data scientists to build a personalization engine. Nangia was one of them. He helped design and implement the recommendation engine for Amazon’s subsidiaries — IMDb, Lovefilm, Audible, Shopbop, and Zappos. He founded TargetingMantra eleven months ago with his friend, Rahul Singh and a few former colleagues who were part of Amazon’s personalization team.
TargetingMantra has developed what Nangia calls an “omni-channel personalization suite,” which in simple terms means algorithms that analyze multiple data sources, including user behavior across web, mobile, and other platforms. It is one of the first in the space to come up with a mobile-specific personalization tool. Paytm, India’s leading mobile commerce company, tried, tested and loved it enough to invest in TargetingMantra through its One97 Mobility fund. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm and managing director of One97 Mobility fund, says: Data is being collected by everyone. However, making effective use of that data is something TargetingMantra showed us at Paytm/One97 and we believe the future is in such effective and intelligent usage of data.
According to Nangia, personalization can boost revenues of ecommerce sites by 30 percent. Most of this is business that would have been missed as customers lose patience and leave the site. By anticipating their needs based on what they have done before, as well as a host of other data points, TargetingMantra is helping ecommerce sites convert these browsers into buyers. Dave McClure, founding partner of 500 Startups, explains in a statement on the seed funding: TargetingMantra helps ecommerce businesses make more money by providing automatic personalization and recommendations, but without having to pay for a nuclear bunker full of data scientists.
Currently, TargetingMantra serves several ecommerce companies in the US, Singapore, Southeast Asia, and Brazil, besides India. The new round of funding will push its global expansion. “We are growing fast in India, but we realized that we need to expand our team to grow faster internationally. Also, for our products to meet the surge in demand, we decided to go for funding. This seed round will help us grow faster and go farther,” Nangia tells us. As ecommerce is evolving rapidly, retailers will need smarter automated systems that make use of big data, machine learning, and data mining.
Not surprisingly, besides TargetingMantra, there are others like Linkcious, a Singapore startup founded by serial entrepreneur Weichang Lai (disclosure: Lai owns a tiny amount of equity in Tech in Asia) and computer engineer Jason Tan, Israel-based Dynamic Yield, and Insightera offering tech wizardry in personalization, each with its own spin on it. TargetingMantra’s appeal is that its roots lie in Amazon, where the whole personalization game began. Now it comes as a service to whoever wants to play the game.
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