Data analytics startup Quantta Analytics has raised an undisclosed amount of funding in its Pre-Series A round. The round was led by undisclosed entrepreneurs and investors from India and Silicon Valley.
Quantta will use the funding in enhancing its tech stack, strengthening the core technology team, and expanding its presence across various cities in India. Also, the startup is in the process of setting up Quantta Labs in Silicon Valley.
“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway.” – Geoffrey Moore, Author of Crossing the Chasm & Inside the Tornado.
Geoffrey made this statement in 2012. Ritesh Bawri, the founder of Quantta Analytics, however, felt the heat much earlier. In 1999, he established his first data analytics company, Cijen Inc in the US, and shut it down after three years. Then in 2014, almost 15 years later, he once again entered the analytics space with Quantta Analytics. But this time, in India, when he had the opportunity to go back to the US and start the company there.
“I agree that India is a difficult market. Getting the customer is difficult but then where in the world is it easy? Also, the prime premise of building Quantta Analytics in India was the belief that India’s data should remain in India only. Currently, loads of our country’s data is travelling to all parts of the world. And we wanted to build something that can help keep the data inside the country that too in a unique manner,” begins Ritesh.
Today, with its patent pending data fusion technology, Quantta Analytics is interpreting and deciphering dark data for its consumers in real-time. Quantta’s team of 14 comprises mathematicians, PhDs, statisticians, and engineers from MIT, Harvard, University of Michigan, University of Maryland, IIT and ISI.
It is already working with over 100+ clients in microfinance, BFSI, retail, hospitality, food & beverages, logistics, energy, and healthcare. Some of its major clients include State Bank of India, Kotak, Fullerton, IDFC, Muthoot, Mannapuram, Ujjivan, Capital First, McDonald’s and Starbucks among others.
Quantta has a pan India presence. The solutions are built out of Bengaluru and business development is largely out of Mumbai. Also, from a data availability point of view, they have already covered 200 top cities of India.
Quantta Analytics: Blending 10 Decades Of Experience Into One Venture
As Ritesh shared, his family is prominently into manufacturing business from the last 100 years. Being a descendant of such a legacy, running a business is in his veins. As was finding a viable business opportunity.
He got his first taste of data analytics in 1999 while completing his MBA from University of Michigan. With his first company Cijen Inc, he worked on the thesis of human personal data.
“The personal information of any human is very valuable, and we wanted to create a framework where in individuals can share that information in a controlled manner, without hampering their privacy,” says Ritesh.
So, he developed a customer-focussed privacy solution – an analytical engine to connect customers and companies anonymously.
However, after three years he returned to India to run his family business. While the passion for data was still there, he only found an opportunity to enter this space again in 2014. This was when his family decided to enter something more intellectual and IT driven. “Data analytics very naturally fit that role,” he says with a grin.
When Geography Dictates Human Behaviour: The Idea Which Inspires Quantta
With this premise in mind, Ritesh dove deep into the data analytics sector. In his endeavour, he was joined by Binod Kumar Bawri, Vinay Bawri and Pradip Bansal, the acting Board Directors of Quantta Analytics.
Ritesh shares, “The name Quantta was coined by Vinay. Its roots were from the term Quantum Mind which is the hypothesis that classical mechanics cannot explain consciousness and that quantum mechanical phenomenon may play a role in explaining consciousness. In much the same way, our belief was that the solution being created would leapfrog to explain human behaviour in a way that has not been done before.”
The idea was to develop a data science and analytics-based tech stack which can help the businesses in taking day-to-day strategic decisions based on human behaviour in a close vicinity.
He further added, “The kind of choices I make as a consumer is largely shaped by where I live or where I work. It’s not every day I am travelling 25 km to do something. So, we can say that our choices are mainly driven by the hyperlocal market around us.”
Thus, Quantta Analytics is trying to build a ground-up understanding of what the geography really means. What are the elements in this geographic area and how they can be interpreted to get insights into consumer behaviour? “This is useful because ultimately all companies want to target potential consumers and they need to understand who they want to target and where they want to target,” said Ritesh.
A typical use case for this can be – identifying the potential location for placing the next ATM for a bank branch in, say, Delhi. “We did a similar project with State Bank of India, Mumbai. We analysed all of Mumbai and helped them locate where to open their branches and ATMs,” shares Ritesh.
There have been companies like McKinsey, etc. which do this kind of analysis. But all that has been done on a macro level targeting entire cities like Delhi, Mumbai, etc. “We are telling you where the opportunity lies at a real micro level – within a radius of 500 sq.mt., at any place any city in India,” claims Ritesh.
How Quantta Analytics Analyses Human Behaviour
On the consumer front, Quantta Analytics offers a dashboard wherein a user can log in and type in his queries. But at the back end, there runs a complicated tech stack built on the basis of over 300 data points. This includes an individual’s social, economic, demographic, behavioural, and cultural data.
“What we do is called data fusion, wherein we blend data with deep learning expertise and build a data structure in an interpretable format over it,” explains Ritesh.
He adds, “With the help of our algorithm we quantify the data – thereby adding different subsets – and then on top of it, we build a recommendation engine. So, for example, a Nike shoe seller can use Quantta Analytics to get answers to typical marketing/ sales related queries such as – who to sell, when to sell, what to sell, where to sell and more. What is unique again is it would be a very microanalysis.”
The team sources the required data from publically available government sources as well as through proprietary data partnerships with banks, private institutions, etc. “In the data business, the number of clients you have worked with, the more access you get to a large pile of data. This data further helps in building a deeper understanding of a particular vicinity/ geography. For the sake of numbers, if we argue, then at a given point of time there must be 50-60 Bn data points present around us,” says Ritesh.
While earlier they used to take six weeks to develop a customised interface for a company, the average time has now dropped to three to four hours.
The Quantta Analytics Journey: From 10 to 100+ Clients
Initially, it was quite difficult for the Quanta Analytics team to gain clients within India as it is a price-sensitive market. “It became more difficult for us because we are focussed only on the Indian market. Unlike many of our peers, who are following the hybrid model of building a solution in the country and then selling abroad,” says Ritesh.
While talking about amassing clients, he says, “It took us a long time. People were not willing to listen and, honestly, we had to knock the same doors multiple times for just explaining our product. Most of all, what we were building was extremely new and noble at that time. People have not used a service like this and pricing itself was difficult.”
Ritesh believes that in these tough times the only thing that helped their business was persistence. “We kept on knocking doors from one customer after the other. And I think, gradually, they started to realise the potential in the product,” he adds.
According to Ritesh, the Quantta Analytics team took three months to get the first 10 clients both – paying and non-paying.
As Ritesh says, “Data science and analytics was a very nascent market in India when we started. Although, people still do not understand the real value of data even today, at that time they required almost a proof of concept every time to trust the product and to understand how beautifully it can impact their decision making cycle in day to day manner. But the the benefit we got was when we did deliver that free project, they loved it and we kept on getting repeat customers on referral basis.”
The company started getting small projects with an average pricing of $775 (INR 50,000). It further took them six to twelve months to reach their first major client. However, now, their projects have an average ticket size of $100K. And they are working with a prominent client list of over 100+, wherein over 70% are banks while the rest 30% can be broadly categorised into retail.
“I think what worked for us was our frugality. We didn’t have luxurious offices and fancy salaries. We build a cost efficient, opportunity driven product where we gave qualitative value and made money too. So I think Indian market offer and value these pieces,” says Ritesh.
How Quantta Analytics Deals With Competition In The Data Analytics Space
According to Ritesh, data analytics is a hyper-competitive space and here competition comes in various different formats. “You might think that my competitor is data analytics company but actually it could be a map company. When we started there were very few people offering this sort of service which included a deep understanding of the market and indulged in predicting consumer behaviour, especially in the Indian consumer space. Over the last three years, a few more have joined the bandwagon. I won’t say too many because most companies are still concentrating on the global market.”
India’s data set is so large, so diverse, and marginal that there are many niches where competition can come from. At present, many companies are targeting different data sets are coming up with an entirely new analysis algorithm for different sectors, so in essence, this really is the beginning.
However, Ritesh claimed that what they are trying to do has not been done yet by any other company as a wholly integrated process.
“Different data collecting organisations collect data from organised sources and they have very specific data points and they sell their businesses around them. Mckinsey does macro studies of India and monetises on it. Fundoodata is building data on SMEs. Indian businesses have just started understanding the value of data and we will only know the right market size in a few years.”
On the condition of anonymity, a participating investor told Inc42, “The data analytics space is a very exciting space. Ritesh and his team have a long history in India as well as the US. When you go through the product you find that they are a unique company in a very hot space in India.”
As rightly stated by Ritesh, the data analytics market in India is at a very nascent stage. Ten years back, such kind of companies didn’t even exist in India. But today we have startups like DataCultr which is deep mining smartphone user behaviour, Heckyl which predicts risk and trading analytics globally, among others which are gaining a global edge and generating healthy revenues. But McKinsey and Fundoodata are the top two names who are covering geographical analytics along with international names such as Esri, LogiBI etc. With over 1 Bn population and diversity in every corner, the opportunity is over trillions of dollars if compared to the global counterparts.
Data in itself is not a magical thing. In reality, it’s the function of imagination – how well you are able to build use cases and algorithms around it. Flying drones, self-driving cars, all are based on the premises of functional data making an object move from one place to another. So, literally, we are just scratching the surface of what data can do.
The technology that Quantta Analytics brings on board in the data analytics space is certainly unique but also challenging in its own way. How well the company will be able to utilise the startup funding, monetise in future, and keep the entry barriers high in future will be worth watching.