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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made a massive impact in the modern world. The use of AI at any level has proved to be fantastic. It automated a significant number of tasks, reducing human effort and has led everyone to believe that there is even more to come. Infigon Futures is a company that empowers the lives of individuals who are seeking educational and career goals to help them make decisions for a brighter future. Speaking with Analytics Insight, Omkar Patil, CEO,Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that Infigon Futures offers.
Infigon Futures is one of the EdTech segment’s fastest growing education and career planning platforms. Individuals ranging from 11 to 30 in age can plan for their educational and career goals using our industry-leading Artificial Intelligence platform. As the market’s leading one-stop-shop, we guarantee that everyone who visits our platform will find something interesting and will leave satisfied. Disrupting the costly and time-consuming process of career development and ensuring that a lack of guidance or financial constraints does not become a barrier to pure talent and passion.With what mission and objective, the company was set up? Tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
The mission is to make use of innovative, leading-edge technology and bring career mentorship for everyone at the tip of their fingers to help them make decisions for a brighter future. As the world’s most trusted career-planning company, any individual irrespective of their financial, geographical or lingual bounds can find everything they need to build for themselves a successful future. In April 2023, Infigon Futures launched The Summit Alliance, a youth organization. They are the organization’s President and Vice President, respectively. They gained insight into the education industry and interacted with over 10,000 students and parents, which gave them the motivation and idea to start a business in the field of career and education counselling.Kindly mention some of the major challenges the company has faced till now.
Founded in August 2023, Infigon Futures saw its inception amidst the uncertain times of the pandemic. For any business entity, the starting phase is crucial and is a period of growth and commitment. All our staff had to work remotely from home during the pandemic, which added constraints to our team management. Innumerable meetings, video and audio calls over multiple platforms like Zoom, Google Meets etc. were our only medium to navigate through the crucial stage of strategic growth planning. Another issue that we faced was operations management. Our marketing campaign started from 15th February 2023 and it essentially comprised of collaborations with colleges, schools and other institutes; wherein these collaborations led us to our present target group – students from class 8 & above college students. Unexpectedly, by April 2023, we had associations with more than 60 colleges/institutions, which we had previously estimated at around 15-20. This remarkable growth was unanticipated, so we had to ramp up our operations and brace ourselves for this growth at very short notice.Tell us how your company is contributing to the IoT/AI/Big Data Analytics/Robotics/Self-Driving Vehicles/Cloud Computing industry of the nation and how the company is benefiting the clients. How do you see the company and the industry in the future ahead?
We have already started with career counselling. In the coming years, we would like to improve our tech algorithm to the point where a student can use our mobile application to answer any question they have about his/her career, education, or other topics. In addition, we will be expanding into the areas of international admissions, skill development, and job opportunities. We want to establish a sense of trust in the minds of school students and their parents in the initial couple of years by providing them with the highest quality services. And once we have that, we will be the one-stop-shop for all of their child’s needs.What is your biggest USP that differentiates the company from competitors? What is your Leadership Mantra?
We do not have a leadership mantra at Infigon. Our organization is a start-up and it faced various constraints and uncertainties that come from being one. Our main ideology is not just to impose our targets, strategies and expected results on our employees, but look out for what our employees truly want. Each employee at our organization goes through extensive HR screening, wherein we analyze their personal requirements, expectations and growth objectives of joining Infigon. From our wide spectrum of work profile, each employee is consigned into teams catered to their CV and requirements. Employees are assigned into groups under each department, and projects are divided into manageable tasks. With a lesser workload, each employee can hence exert maximum productivity while gaining quality experience.Please brief us about the products/services/solutions you provide to your customers and how do they get value out of it.
Our career and education mentorship process is completely automated. All of our services, including self-assessment, career selection, educational planning, and expert mentor connections, will be provided through our mobile application, which employs Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. It will be a straightforward four-step process that will begin with self-assessment and progress through career selection, educational planning, and skill development.Which industry verticals are you currently focusing on? And what is your go-to market strategy for the same?
Our focus remains on career guidance and mentorship. Our target consumer base consists of students in schools and colleges. Hence, our priority marketing strategy is to associate with various schools, colleges and private institutions. This gives us extensive access to reach out to students in need of effective guidance and counselling. Our integral goal is to guide young minds into deciphering their academic prospects and dream career.What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?
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An intelligent search platform is powered by artificial intelligence technology, which removes data silos and assists employees and customers to find the information they need rapidly and easily. End-users make use of intelligent search to extract information from anywhere Intelligent search and enterprise search are synonymous with natural language search, AI search, or AI-powered search and cognitive search. Communicating with Analytics Insight, Alexandre Bilger, the CEO at Sinequa sheds light on the powerful and intelligent search for enterprises that the company offers. He also gives insights into the role of disruptive technologies in the industry.With what mission and objectives was the company set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
Sinequa was set up with the mission to offer enterprises the services that tech giants such as Google offer to the consumer: powerful and intelligent search. We recognized that enterprises’ valuable information was not being used to its full potential and that an intelligent search tool would enable organizations to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise contained within their enterprise data. We knew that insight from existing data sources would drive innovation, efficiency, and productivity for businesses, ultimately helping them to grow and stay agile. As the company has grown and gained momentum, its value has been acknowledged by key analysts in the intelligent search space. Sinequa has been repeatedly recognized as a leader by Gartner and Forrester, including in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines 2023, and in the Forrester Wave™: Cognitive Search 2023 reports. Our client base has grown to include significant players across multiple industries, including Alstom, AstraZeneca, Biogen, BMS, Pfizer, Siemens, Thales, TotalEnergies, and Volkswagen. As the President and CEO of Sinequa for over 10 years, I have seen the company evolve and expand to deal with the increasing volumes of data that organizations now produce. As the quantity of data has grown, so have our technological capabilities and our scope to cater to different use cases. As Sinequa continues to grow, I am excited to see continued progress in the value it can bring to customers.What is your biggest USP that diﬀerentiates the company from competitors?
Sinequa’s platform is comprehensive and customizable, making it suitable for the highest value use cases. It’s built to support professionals across a range of industries, from life sciences and financial services to manufacturing and intelligence agencies. Whether driving faster drug discovery and delivery or underpinning safety and compliance in the energy industry, Sinequa’s unique value lies in its ability to provide insights highly relevant to the professional context. The platform automates the analysis of millions of files and offers a 360-degree view of all data sources, processes, and expertise. With these capabilities, the platform drives informed decision-making and acts as an enabler of vital processes.Please brief us about the products/services/solutions you provide to your customers and how they get value out of it.
Sinequa supports on-premises, cloud, and hybrid deployments and supports hosting on the leading cloud platforms. Sinequa recently partnered with Microsoft to run on Azure and, in July, announced the addition of Sinequa for Microsoft Teams.How does your company’s strategy facilitate the transformation of an enterprise?
Businesses today are increasingly focused on being data-driven to make better decisions, as well as drive efficiency and innovation. However, many organizations continue to focus only on their structured data – accounting for 20% of enterprise data – as a means to gain insight, missing out on the wealth of information and knowledge that can be gained from unstructured data, representing the other 80%. Sinequa’s platform enables companies to tap into both structured and unstructured data to gain insights that ultimately drive business efficiency, innovation, and by extension, growth.How is IoT/Big Data/AI/Robotics evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important trends that you see emerging across the globe?
Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is only really in its infancy. While companies are beginning to use AI to examine their quantitative data, qualitative data remains relatively neglected. Tapping into qualitative and unstructured data is a growing and important trend, especially as the quantity of data that companies produce continues to grow. There’s a wealth of information in unstructured data, which includes everything from PDF documents and emails to videos and images. AI solutions can help an employee or customer extract value quicker, without having to read and digest all the data. If such information is effectively harnessed, the value for businesses could be immeasurable.How can businesses efficiently extract the value from data, without increasing cost and complexity?
Extracting value from data can be a costly and lengthy process. The challenge is made harder by the exponential growth in the volume of data being produced by businesses. In this context, a well-thought-out data strategy is essential, and the right tools are needed to underpin such a strategy. The ultimate goal is to obtain a solution that enables the extraction of value from all sources of data, whether structured or unstructured. To best harness the value of data, employees should be able to use one interface to search across all applications and all types of data. With such a tool, searching for information is made simpler and faster, ensuring that knowledge and expertise are not buried and lost.What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?
Sinequa is on a strong growth trajectory and is seeking to accelerate its international expansion. In 2023, the company performed well, despite the circumstances of the pandemic. It increased its total customer billings by 30 percent and signed new logos across the globe, from global pharmaceutical and healthcare manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to the second largest energy and power company in the world, Électricité de France (EDF).
For businesses having a distributed work environment nothing is dearer than flexibility and accessibility. Add data analytics dimension to the picture it becomes highly necessary for companies to adopt cloud-based HR solutions. However, cloud-based solutions always come with challenges that far outweigh the opportunities they come with. Qandle is a cloud-based technology platform that provides innovative human resource management solutions. Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Himanshu Aggarwal, Co-Founder, and CTO, of Qandle.1. Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that your company offers.
Qandle is an All-In-One HR Solution. It is a young firm formed in 2024 and is focused on re-engineering HR Technology from the perspective of employees.
Qandle is a comprehensive solution built with the employees in mind and covers the entire gamut of HR activities – from hire to retirement. With the mission to build connected, empowered, and engaged workplaces, Qandle has leveraged technology to develop a modular and extremely flexible solution for organizations looking to deliver the next-generation experience to their teams. The vast array of offerings includes solutions for recruitment, new hire onboarding, payroll, and related compliances, attendance and time off, employee engagement, performance, OKRs, etc.2. Brief us about the proactive Founder/CEO of the company and his/her contributions to the company and the industry.
We are two co-founders, and both of us are quite proactive. Chayan looks after the sales and marketing while I look after the technology. Both of us look after the product as we believe that is the key, and the product is what our customers come, and stay for. Both of us lead with a solutions mindset and that drives everything we do, including but not limited to the kind of people we hire, the solutions we provide, and the way we approach concerns and issues.3. What is your biggest USP that diﬀerentiates the company from competitors?
We are a solutions company and not a tech company. Our philosophy is to solve the customers’ issues and problems. That mindset, I think, is our biggest differentiator. As Simon Sinek says, we always start with why. As a result, we are always looking to make every step simpler and easier. This results in an extremely user-friendly experience. The solution covers all the requirements end-to-end and is simple to use.4. How do you plan to revolutionize the Indian market and what are your plans to tap the market?
We founded Qandle to replace the clunky and complicated solutions and the point solutions in the market for HR. The idea was to offer something which serves the entire gamut of the HR lifecycle of employees and is configurable and easy to use. Therefore, based on a strong technology backbone, we created Qandle. We don’t just offer a technology platform but a complete solution that provides a seamless experience and presents an intuitive interface that would not need any special training to be used. In addition to this, we cover every possible module that a company might require when it comes to its HR functions. Qandle offers over 22 modules across 10 broad categories covering all the possible HR and employee tasks. Thus, eliminating the challenge of maintaining multiple SAAS platforms to manage the organization’s most valuable asset – people.5. What does your technology and business roadmap look like for the rest of the year?
We are always working towards making our solution more user-friendly and configurable. We are hoping to double the number of customers we have. On the product end, we seek to continue to support our clients in making their lives easier concerning managing their people resources. Our product roadmap is driven by our clients needs. We work very closely with our clients to decide our product roadmap and it is completely visible to them.6. The industry is seeing a rising importance of business and technology enablers like virtualization, convergence, and cloud. How do you see these emerging technologies impact your business sector?
All technology companies need to continuously innovate based on client needs and emerging technologies to stay relevant. We are no exception to this and are influenced by these changes. Our solution is completely cloud-based and we already use virtualization to provide a fast solution with extremely low latency. We are continuously upgrading our systems as well, in line with the latest technologies, to provide a cutting-edge solution to our customers.7. AI is projected to be the next market. How is AI contributing to the making of your products and services?
AI is very much a part of our product, and we continue to invest in it, to enable our clients to make their work lives easier. We use AI and Natural Language processing in several modules to make our solution smart and save significant time for our client’s employees and consequently, their HR teams. Some examples are AI chatbot, Resume Parser, smart shift allocation, etc. among others.8. Which industry verticals are you currently focusing on? And what is your go-to-market strategy for the same?
Companies from all sectors and industries need HR solutions to manage their people. Since our solution is extremely configurable and intuitive for the white, grey, and blue-collar workforce, we are truly industry and size agnostic. It is a truly horizontal solution. Our GTM strategy is to try and get into the consideration set when someone is looking for an HR solution. Once there, we know our product and solutions mindset will be able to address their needs better than others in the market.
Founded in 2024 by IIT Ropar alumni Annanya Sarthak, Gurpreet Singh, and Praveen Kumar Sah, Awign is India’s largest tech-led on-demand work fulfillment platform. Since its inception, Awign has been solving the problem of unemployment, underemployment, and skill gap in India by providing employment opportunities to the youth, along with upskilling them with relevant knowledge. Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Annanya Sarthak, Co-founder and CEO, Awign.1. Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that your company offers
Founded in 2024 by IIT Ropar alumni Annanya Sarthak, Gurpreet Singh, and Praveen Kumar Sah, Awign is India’s largest tech-led on-demand work fulfilment platform. Since its inception, Awign has been solving the problem of unemployment, underemployment, and skill gap in India by providing employment opportunities to the youth, along with upskilling them with relevant knowledge.
In Sanskrit, Awign means the removal of obstacles, and by staying true to its name, the company is committed to developing a unique model of commoditizing work that is revolutionizing how enterprises operate and scale up today.
We work closely with enterprises to meet business requirements through our 9 core on-ground and digital enterprise functions including auditing, diligence, assessments, proctoring (online & offline), last-mile delivery, new business development, and telecalling. Our most recent addition, Awign Expert, was launched in 2023 that helps businesses hire, assess, and manage high skilled contractual and gig talent across niche profiles of tech, marketing, finance, data science, and human resources. Our clients come from a wide range of sectors including FMCD, BFSI, ECommerce, Consumer Durable, Mobility, Assessment, Retail, Hospitality, Retail and Construction, among others.
In the last 6 years, Awign has successfully completed over 7 million tasks with a gig workforce of over 1 million. We now serve enterprises across 500+ cities and 12,000+ pin codes in India including 8 Tier-I cities, 76 Tier-II cities, and several Tier-III cities.
Our no-code technology platform assists enterprises to run their businesses at scale through end-to-end management and outcome-based execution, including discovery, deployment and payroll management. Through this platform, we ensure that any workflow in the world can be configured without writing a single line of code, thereby making us a go-to execution partner that solves core business challenges for enterprises through gig partners.
What sets Awign apart is that, in the land of various job boards and recruitment platforms (Flexi staffing and Job-Board Gig-Marketplace), we’ve established ourselves as the only platform commoditizing work for Enterprises with the main objective of ‘gigifying’ core enterprise activities to variabalise PnLs for large organisations.
As a technology-led company, we’ve diversified into digital lines of business, such as content operations and exam proctoring, in global markets like the United States and the Middle East, to maintain a balanced mix of distant and hyperlocal work segments. We’ve also planned to expand into new verticals including SaaS, Collections, Retail Operations, Merchandising, Warehousing & Mid-mile, Market Intel & Consumer Insights, and Consumer Product Testing, Micro and Nano Influencer Marketing, and AI Operations, and On-Demand Knowledge.
Since its commencement, Awign has grown to become a company with annual recurring revenue of over INR 120 crore, while bridging the gap between what businesses want and what Indians can do. We have raised funding from marquee investors such as the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Unitus Ventures, Lumis Partners, Work10M, Eagle10 Ventures, Blacksoil, and Stride Ventures and are in the process of soon closing a large Series B equity transaction.2. What is the edge your company has over other players in the industry?
Awign has several differentiators that have made it stand out such as:
Our no-code technology-enabled platform breaks down complex work requirements of enterprises into simple tasks and takes ownership of end-to-end work execution – while providing economic opportunities to India’s burgeoning workforce across low, mid, and high skilled job sectors
Our enterprise solutions enable enterprises to convert their 3rd party fixed payroll to variable expenses
The business model focuses on cutting down revenue leakages for enterprises. Our platform reduces upfront risks and incremental costs in turn variabalizing PnL and increasing bottom lines for our clients
Our pan-India presence across 500 cities and 12,000+ pin codes in India have attracted 100+ large-sized marquee enterprises to partner with us
We provide on-demand work fulfillment for both on-ground and digital work, across 9 core business services such as tele-calling, online proctoring, content & data operations, and business development, auditing, due diligence, exam invigilation, and last-mile delivery etc. with over 100+ major (business) customers to service and an over 1 million registered gig partners on the platform
Our most recent addition, Awign Expert, was launched in 2023 that helps businesses hire, assess, and manage high skilled contractual and gig talent across niche profiles of tech, marketing, finance, data science, and human resources.
We have also launched our upskilling platform Awign University, an industry-first initiative that aims to provide upskilling, reskilling and multiskilling opportunities to gig partners. Through this platform, gig partners will get access to new learning opportunities which will enable both professional and financial growth for them.3. How is your company helping customers deliver relevant business outcomes through the adoption of the company’s technology innovations?
Awign was started with the mission of organizing & fulfilling enterprise work digitally with human aspirations & humanized efforts. We are a pioneer in connecting technology with the gig economy where we have helped to ‘gigify’ core enterprise activities and variables PnLs for large organizations.
Our biggest strength is our unrivaled tech stack where we utilize Big Data in allocating tasks to our partners and leverage AI & ML in executing automated Quality checks (Image recognition and audio transcription). As a no-code tech platform, we provide services of finding the gig partners, mapping them to the work, managing them, and getting quality outcomes for the enterprises. Through our tech-driven platform, we are able to meet the partner requirements by breaking them down into simpler tasks and providing end-to-end solutions, training, guidance, and transparent payment systems.
Our fully configurable tech platform enables the productization and execution of all workflows, irrespective of complexity, to address the exact business need. Our execution app for our gig partners, a dynamic dashboard for enterprises, innovative technology, along with our ‘war room’ for the product management team, together with help us deliver core functional work at scale.
4. How is your tech infrastructure different from and more impactful than your competitors?4. How is your tech infrastructure different from and more impactful than your competitors?
The foundation of Awign is built on a holistic approach toward enterprises and gig partners. For gig partners, our technology infrastructure has made finding work easier, seamless, and transparent in terms of growth & remuneration. As for enterprises, it has empowered them to achieve outcomes without breaking backs on the ‘how’ of it.
Our no-code tech stack ensures work is fulfilled flawlessly as our overall process becomes efficient due to automation & smart-assist features built into our platform. Our gig partner’s app is designed to make the journey smooth for the latter, right from applying for a job to finding work based on their skills,location, and other eligibility factors, in-app training, task completion, and payment, technology integration ensures a simplified process. Additionally, for enterprises, our client dashboard provides multi-city, real-time visibility and on-ground insight.
Owing to our technology-first approach, recurring work which is core to enterprises is getting increasingly done through our dynamic gig workforce as opposed to just transactional, short-term, project work. And this is only possible through our technology which has enabled end-to-end workflow management.5. What’s your vision for the future of your work tech platform?
Our growth priorities have always been on the following top-line objectives:
We have diversified digital lines of business, including content operations and exam proctoring, in global markets such as the United States and the Middle East, in order to maintain a healthy mix of distant and hyperlocal work segments. Earned Soc2 Type 2 certification to provide the required confidence to global customers for handling information security and data privacy regulations
We are launching our SaaS platform to make the whole ecosystem much better and more convenient for both the businesses and our Gig partners
We are also extending our realm in providing skilling, reskilling and multi-skilling possibilities for our gig partners through ‘Awign University’, which provides:
Required training and guidance for the registered gig partners to complete their work seamlessly
Curated courses, content, and other opportunities for our gig partners, giving them an objective to not only earn but learn as well
Further, we have recently launched a new vertical named Awign Experts. With Awign Expert we plan to tap the white-collar market and gigify professional roles which require experience and expertise.
In addition to these, we are going hyperlocal by onboarding 120,000+ Awign champions to achieve 300,000,000+ tasks per day and reach a 12X growth in revenue and more than 95 percent platform adoption by clients, suppliers, and internal teams, by 2025.
Education is prime these days for every individual. And many of the students with aspiring dreams are not able to fulfill those due to insufficient funds in their pockets. But these situations directly or indirectly hinder the growth of the student as well as the country too. GyanDhan works to facilitate funds for education abroad easily, let’s know more in the words of Ankit Mehra, who is a Co-Founder and CEO of the company which is India’s first education financing marketplace.With what mission and objectives, the company was set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
The company was set up with an aim to streamline the education financing segment to facilitate securing funds for education abroad easily. The drive to help students came from the personal experience and troubles to fund my MBA from IESE Business School. Mr. Jainesh Sinha joined me in my endeavor, who had also faced difficulties funding his education. After a thorough analysis of the market and the way banks and lenders operate, we concluded that there are gaping holes in the overall loan process, riddled with procedural delays, product limitation, archaic documentation systems to name a few. To optimize the process, we started with building an in-house evaluation model called the GyanDhan score that accurately calculates the loan eligibility of the student. The score is calculated after factoring in the academic profile of the student, their future earning potential, target course and college, and employment opportunities in that field. The objective was to move beyond the traditional markers of eligibility still in use, which is the value of the collateral pledged. The score assigned to the students helps the lenders and us assess the risk involved in the loan application. We partnered with major lenders in the market to further smoothen the process of documentation and further processing. The initial focus of the company was financing abroad education needs but recently forayed into the domestic segment to provide easy and accessible financing options to study in India. The company has been successful in its operations, helping more than 5800 students since its inception in 2024. The role of the company has also evolved since then as it recently acquired its NBFC license. The license enables us to handle end-to-end customer experience and provide a better service.What is your biggest USP that diﬀerentiates the company from competitors?
The USP of the company is the customer-centric approach. The aim is to offer our customers the best possible experience of funding their education. We weeded out archaic loan application processes and introduced an entirely new approach for the online process, including the GyanDhan score that helps determine the eligibility of the applicant. Our loan eligibility tool matches the applicant to an ideal lender for their profile. Students have the option to discuss different loan products with the executive assigned to them, who goes through the profile and needs of the student to suggest the most beneficial and cost-effective lender. We do not hesitate to refer them to a lender that may not be our partner if that is the best recourse. It instills our aim and motto to help the students find the best possible financing option. The students we assist, more often than not, refer us to other students in need. The entire financing experience is made hassle-free with the online process, which helps the applicant to secure funds without any branch visits and unnecessary document submissions.How do you plan to revolutionize the Indian/US/UK market and what are your plans to tap the market?
Now, more than ever, companies have realized the benefits of using AI/data analytics. The variety of data collected by companies provide valuable insights into customer behavior that has enabled them to formulate personalized marketing pitches, introduce new products, make better business decisions, and mitigate risks. Decisions taken are better-informed and backed by data. It is especially helpful in the education loan sector because of the looming risk of NPAs. GyanDhan utilized data analytics to optimize every step of the loan process from checking loan eligibility to building tools that assist students in perfecting their admission applications. Our most successful tool developed is the loan eligibility tool that does multiple things. It assigns students a credit score that calculates their creditworthiness; it matches them with an ideal lender based on their profile and loan product features. The automated process further helps us identify bank executives that can handle more cases based on their past performance and other metrics. Traditional lenders still follow the conventional modes of evaluation, recording a higher percentage of NPAs mainly because the decision taken is intuition and collateral-based.What is the edge your company has over other players in the industry?
GyanDhan is a data-driven company. Every decision, tool, and loan process is backed by data we have aggregated over the years that helps the company, our partner lenders, students, and every party involved. Since the inception of the company, we have seen loan approval rates increase significantly. The GyanDhan score is trusted by lenders in the market, which has made the decision-making process an easier and faster exercise. Earlier, applications that would be outrightly rejected, and are still rejected by traditional lenders, stand a chance with our evaluation model since the decision taken is not intuition-based. The services offered are free of cost for the students as the company gets paid a percentage of the loan amount as fee income. In addition to this, the company is also an NBFC that helps cater to customers that are largely neglected by traditional lenders and fail to find any financers. The customer experience is optimized; applications are evaluated objectively; students get approved for low-ticket loans. Another revolutionary product that the company introduced recently is GyanDhan allied – where we leverage the power of group buying to get the best financing deals for the student.What is your leadership mantra?
One basic rule that the company follows is to hire the right people and let them do the work. Each employee brings their work style and performs optimally when they are not hounded for work. We have seen employees take initiative to improve the operations and bring business to the company. These employees are appreciated and even promoted irrespective of the time they have spent in the company.Would you like to highlight a few use cases where analytics has benefitted the organization tremendously? What are the concerns that organizations have before using analytics?
The foremost challenge regarding data analytics is to determine which data to use, how to source it, and make use of it for the benefit of the company. Collecting data is not the endgame, it is just the start. The second challenge is finding the right professional. Analytics is highly math-intensive and requires the right skill set, the right use of mathematical techniques, and statistical methodology to get meaningful insights from the voluminous data collected every minute. A great deal of effort is required to find a professional who is not overwhelmed by the large amount of data acquired and can model the results for the company’s benefit. Another challenge that most companies encounter is to take those insights and reform the way the company operates. If the analytics is not helping you make better business decisions or changing the way managers work on a day-to-day basis, then company resources are being wasted.
Over the past five years, more than 3,000 agritech startups have entered the scene. However, their combined revenue was less than $100 million. This shows there’s room for more players in the sector as no company can have a monopoly and effectively address all the challenges. Gramophone is a full-stack Agritech platform for solving the end-to-end needs of farmers. Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Gaurav Asthana, CTO of1. Brief us about the CTO of Gramophone and his contributions to the company and the industry.
I have close to two decades of extensive experience in web application development, E-commerce websites, Fintech systems, Agritech, Job sites, and more, with technology companies. I have deep expertise in working on high-traffic applications and improving performance and scalability with innovation and new technologies. I started my career with chúng tôi (Info Edge) and had a long stint of more than 10 years there. Then I moved to 1mg, and later fintech platform Zip loan. Currently, I am leading the technology as Chief Technology Officer of Gramophone (an Agritech Platform). I am an engineering graduate and have done MS in software systems from BITS Pilani.2. With what mission and objectives was Gramophone set up? In short, tell us about the journey since the inception of the company?
Traditionally, farming practices in India have been based on heuristics with retailers and OEMs playing an outsized role in influencing the sale of farm inputs. There is a clear conflict of interest here- where the sellers would be incentivized to push products that may not necessarily be in the farmers’ best interests. Secondly, no single player has a holistic crop lifecycle management approach. Each player addresses his product or offering (e.g. seed or fertilizer); bringing it all together is a white space opportunity. Thus, customized and scientific (data-driven) support, along with genuine agri-inputs can help farmers from sowing to harvest. This has the potential to increase the income by at least 50% for the farmer.3. Tell us how Gramophone is contributing to the IoT/AI/Big Data Analytics/ industry of the nation and how the Gramophone is benefiting the farmers.
Traditionally, all this was driven by human experience and filled with biases and subjectivities. Thanks to all the data we have collected (around weather, cropping patterns, the farmer land details, market supply/demand/price dynamics, etc.) and analyzed, now all the farming decisions are data-driven. This reduces the uncertainty for the farmer and helps him easily get a 30-40% higher income.4. How is IoT/Big Data/AI evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important trends that you see emerging across the globe from an emerging technology standpoint in the Agri space?
In the Agri industry as well, there are several IoT/Big Data applications. One simple use case is that farmers capture images of crops affected by pest/disease and share them on the Gramophone platform; we can analyze the issues and guide them on corrective steps. Some farmers have also been able to remotely manage irrigation systems (through their mobile phones and on-field sensors), saving time and money. We have IoT sensors for soil assessment; drones collect land data; satellites provide weather and canopy imagery data; several digital platforms are providing real-time data on market supply and price trends; combining all these data sources, one can arrive at smart insights to guide farming practices and decisions. There is a huge opportunity to bring all these aspects together and build an Intelligent Farming Ecosystem, enabling farmers to run agriculture as a business!5. AI is projected to be the next market. How is AI contributing to the making of your products and services for your end-user?
At Gramophone, we collect the data of the farm, including but not limited to area, size, location, soil, cropping patterns, soil quality, and harvesting quantity & quality. With the increasing use of a smartphone, it is becoming easier to capture farmer data (his exact land coordinates, weather patterns specific to his plot, historical market dynamics, etc.). We also have public data available on types of crops, best practices, pest/disease management, market prices, and so on. Apart from core farming issues, we have also looked at areas such as logistics. With our direct-to-farmer approach, last-mile delivery could be prohibitively expensive if not dealt with, carefully. However, thanks to our algorithms, we have been able to optimize the distribution of goods extremely well. Farmers get door-step-service and we can keep our costs low. Also, since we have a lot of data on production trends and quality of production in different areas (apart from the market data on supply/price/etc.) we can predict well, in terms of where the supply would come next. This is extremely helpful to our customers who are looking for a reliable supply chain. This also helps the farmers get a better sense of what their expected income would be.6. Could you highlight Gramophone’s recent innovations in the AI/ML/Analytics space?
We are working on predictive analytics around farming best practices – taking into account the millions of permutations and combinations of crop/weather/pest/disease / etc… and giving specific recommendations to farmers – sow this, use this amount of water, apply this much of pesticide, and so on. We are optimizing supply chain/logistics figuring out the optimal route and the right types of interim points, that balance high levels of service satisfaction with low cost. We are predicting supply and demand for the Agri produce.7. How have you seen the evolution of the agri-tech industry from a tech adoption standpoint? As you said that you have been with Gramophone from the beginning, how has the growth been?
Internet access is clocking a 13% growth and smartphone usage has risen to 67.6 % in rural markets, with farmers embracing social technology with surprising speed. In the cardamom belt, farmers are watching YouTube live streams to decide if they want to put up their spice for auction. A medium-holding farmer doubled his farm yield through soil testing and padded the bottom line enough to buy more land in under two years. The next layer of agritech, e-commerce, where the actual transactions of farm input materials and output occur is picking up fast. This is at around 15%-20% of the farming base, ready to go completely online for doing transactions. There has been a distinct rise in farmers placing orders online, particularly to procure input materials, because of doorstep deliveries. And a majority of these farmers are making repeat purchases. Tech usage to sell products online is following a similar path. Farmers are listing their crops on portals and marketplaces because it removes intermediaries who eat into margins. Besides better price discovery, COVID-19 acted as jet fuel, accelerating e-commerce adoption, with more farmers coming online and inviting bids for their crops. This is expected to grow faster as the layers of payment guarantee and quality inspection modules (which will be a mix of physical + digital) are integrated into the existing market linkages platforms. Some of the large input companies are sponsoring trial usage of drones. This could drive some level of IoT adoption. Some of the IoT soil sensor companies are also exploring usage-based fees (instead of selling the equipment). Such steps could increase adoption by farmers – especially if a partner comes in to help with implementation.
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