Indix Brings Big Data, Analytics, & Visualizations to Product Managers
[Updated 10/17/13 11:31 am. See below.]
Big data startup Indix does not lack ambition as it unveils the “product intelligence platform” it has been working on quietly for the last 18 months.
“One of our goals is to organize everything on the Internet that is related to products,” says co-founder and CEO Sanjay Parthasarathy.
The company does this by crawling the Web—it built its own search engine to do so—for publicly available product pricing, SKUs, and other data. Indix collects and structures that data, forming the basis of a platform for a range of applications designed to make life easier for product managers.
“There’s a community of product managers”—a broad category that may include roles such as brand management or purchasing and pricing management at a retailers—“who spend a lot of time looking for information. They don’t have an application that they live in like [customer relationship management] for salespeople or [enterprise resource planning] for financial people,” Parthasarathy says.
Indix, based in Seattle and India, aims to simplify the process of gathering, analyzing, and visualizing product information, so that product managers can focus on the things they’re good at, like product development, merchandising, and promotion, he says.
Using Indix, a category manager in charge of shampoo sales at a national pharmacy chain, for example, can immediately see how his lineup of products compares to a competitor’s in a range of dimensions, with details on pricing, availability, and inventory. He could see which of his shampoos are priced higher and lower relative to the competition, and adjust prices, run promotions, or add products accordingly.
“Ultimately, you can have all this big data, but if you can’t act on it, what’s the point?” Parthasarathy says. [An earlier version of this paragraph said that Parthasarathy would be joining Xconomy’s upcoming public forum Big Insight—Making Sense of Big Data in Seattle on Nov. 19. Unfortunately, he will not be able to participate due to a scheduling conflict.]
Indix can also, for example, help retailers identify competitors they didn’t know they had by showing all the places a given product is sold, and at what prices. Parthasarathy is particularly proud of the data visualizations built into the system. In this example, an automatically generated bar chart shows the competitive landscape.
“It’s got millions and millions of products and entities out there, but this immediately tells you, you may be ignoring two very important competitors,” he says.
The technology underpinning this is not trivial. Parthasarathy says that over the course of the last 18 months, Indix has built—and rebuilt over and over—its search engine, a structuring engine for product data, and real-time analytics and visualization engines on top of that.
Indix also shows news and social media chatter about products, but Parthasarathy says there’s more work to be done to better integrate that data with the rest of the product information. In the future, Indix could conceivably correlate pricing changes with news and Twitter feeds.
The application, accessible in the browser and on mobile devices, runs on Amazon Web Services.
Parthasarathy sees an even broader potential use for the Indix product database. Just like applications today are increasingly aware of people and places, “apps of the future are going to be product aware,” he says. He adds in a blog post: “It’s not hard to imagine a time when products will be available through ‘infinite channels,’ where every app, website and service is an opportunity to inform and engage potential customers on a product—not just for advertising, but also education, awareness, and ultimately purchase.”
Indix has an API, still in beta, to allow third-party developers to tap into its product information.
Parthasarathy says the company has customers, though he can’t name them yet.
Indix is pricing its offering to be purchased on a credit card by the end user on a subscription basis, rather than having to go through an IT department procurement process.
That focus on the end user extends to the design, too.
“Business apps are not as good looking and friendly as consumer apps,” Parthasarathy says. “So we set out to design this in a way that people who use iPads, iPhones, and modern consumer apps will feel quite comfortable.”
Indix has the feel of a high-end consumer Web app, from a start page that features a rotating picture a la Bing—one day it was a surfer sliding under the lip of a cresting wave—to the uncrowded page layouts to colorful, smooth animations of charts and graphs. It is easily customizable, with lots of ways to quickly view the information most relevant to an individual user.
The company’s six-person U.S. operation (Indix has another 35 people in India) recently found a home on the 16th floor of Century Square in Seattle’s Central Business District. Indix is sharing a small portion of the floor with Qumulo, another Seattle big data startup. And they will soon be joined by Twitter, which is moving its Seattle operation to the building.
Indix, which we first wrote about in April, has raised about $6 million from Avalon Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners, as well as from angel investors and friends and family.