Technology seeking problems to solve: an NLP startup case study with Srikanth, founder Proxzar

CIE brings to our Deeptech community,

Fire Up Founder Insights series 7th edition, hosted by our COO, Mr. Ramesh Loganathan. The series is brought to you as a part of Startup Gyan Blog series by CIE-IIITH  where we feature our founders and talk about their Startup status and the journey so far through conversation on specific topics useful for other Deeptech startups and the community at large.

In Conversation with Srikanth, founder Proxzar:

“As a Technologist, I started experimenting with IBM Watson – Alchemy API to see what kind of emotion is being conveyed to the listener through a statement or sentence”

This experimentation with the sentiment analysis & IP messaging along with the foray into the emerging technology(NLP) in 2015-16, eventually led to Proxzar in 2018. Proxzar is a platform for AI trained proxies such as virtual assistants, bots and search apps for large organisations and Influencers.

Deep tech innovations go both ways; you identify a need and then build a tech product, ultimately using all the data to make the product more useful and intelligent or you can build a technology and then do the market analysis. The comparison of success in both the approaches is debatable as there is not much evidence supporting the latter one. Let’s say it is the “path less travelled or the road not taken”!

Similar is the case with Proxzar wherein the team built the platform and then set out to do the concept testing and find the market fit .

“19 out of 20 C-level executives were eager to listen and learn about the platform”

The team approached different firms and executives from Pharma, IT and Healthcare sector, to check their willingness to try the product as well as to find out their requirements.

According to Srikanth, there are two major pain points when selling a technology platform:

  • Explaining the technology to potential clients – It has to be simple and short
  • Exposition of the value addition or the solution that the tech is offering

Use Cases:

“The Q&A system; while it sounds like a narrow technology, its use cases are diverse”

Some of the use-cases that the Startup has identified to deploy the proxies and the Q&A system are:

– Employee self service

– Online product catalogue search

– Regulatory Procedures search

– Influencer Avatar

Overcoming the challenges to find the Use-cases:

“Converting the lead to an actual closed sale was the dead end”

  • Targeted decision-makers in large E-commerce and large distribution companies in US
  • Relied on guesses and assumptions “Shot in the dark”
  • Used Digital Marketing to its favour

The Growth Hack tip:

The founding team is key: founders must invest time to build a team with complementary skills.

Watch the complete interview for use cases of the product and food for thought!

Keep watching this space for more under Fire Up Series.
Stay safe and sound!

– Sunita Kumari, Team CIE