Category Archives: Enterprise

The commoditization of AI algorithms

Butterfleye, where we’re investors, is the producer of the Nero 1, a wireless security camera which comes equipped with facial recognition technology.

Once you start using the Nero 1, it captures and prompts you to tag the faces it identifies. This lets the Nero 1 remain passive in the event that it sees a known face while alerting you to new faces who could represent potential intruders.

What’s interesting about the facial recognition feature is that Butterfleye developed it using the Amazon Rekognition API. In other words, Amazon built the general image recognition algorithm, and Butterfleye is now using it for the specific case of facial recognition by applying the algorithm to the facial data that it collects.

This is a great example of the commoditization of AI algorithms. As more people have access to these algorithms, the source of value increasingly shifts from the algorithm itself to the data to which the algorithm is applied.

Insider careers

Insider, a predictive segmentation and real-time marketing tool for companies where we’re investors, recently shared the video below entitled “Expect the Unexpected”.

The video provides data on the company’s performance and gives a glimpse of what it’s like to work there.

If you also like working with data and want to be part of a growing global product company, Insider is hiring across its 13 international office locations.

InOne by Insider

Insider, a predictive segmentation and real-time marketing tool for companies where we’re investors, yesterday launched its new marketing technology platform InOne.

In the words of Insider’s CEO Hande Cilingir, “InOne brings together all the technologies marketers need to deliver personalized experiences under a single, highly usable platform.”

And in the words of Insider’s CTO Sinan Toktay, “InOne powers personalized experiences with new and enhanced predictive modeling and segmentation technologies. Segments are only as good as the data behind them. Allowing marketers to act on ready-to-use segments based on the future behaviors of their visitors, we have transformed the way they deliver personalized experiences.”

In addition to bringing Insider’s predictive modeling and segmentation technologies under a single platform, InOne also introduces the Ad Audiences module to bridge the gap between marketing tech and ad tech. Specifically, Ad Audiences lets marketers optimize their advertising spend by pushing their highest value predictive segments into third party ad platforms like Facebook and Google AdWords.

You can watch InOne’s launch video below.

Insider and 500 Startups

Insider, a customer segmentation and predictive marketing tool for companies where we’re investors, raised its most recent funding round in September of last year.

Immediately following the round, 500 Startups expressed an interest in investing in the company. Given Insider’s existing presence across 8 countries and ambitions to further grow its international operations, partnering with a global fund like 500 makes a lot of sense. We therefore decided to reopen the round to bring onboard 500.

This marks our 4th co-investment with 500 Startups, and we welcome them to the company.

Mavrx’s Series A

Mavrx, where we’re investors, is an agricultural imaging company. Its core product analyzes aerial images sourced from its network of aircraft partners to give farmers recommendations that improve their agricultural outcomes. These outcomes include maximizing crop yields, reducing spending on irrigation, fertilizer, and labor, and preventing catastrophic crop loss.

It’s more accurate and less costly to reach these outcomes by applying data science to images sourced from planes rather than by applying intuition to a farmer’s row-by-row drive-throughs among his crops. The former doesn’t eliminate the need for the latter but rather guides the latter to focus on those specific farm segments where there is the greatest value at stake.

We participated in Mavrx’s $2.5M seed round in mid-2014 and the company announced its $10M Series A in late 2016. Here’s a post from the company’s blog which covers the new round.

As mentioned in the post, the round’s proceeds will go towards growing Mavrx’s data science and sales teams, further improving its product, and winning new customers both within and outside of (for example Canada and South Africa) the US.

We’re excited to be along for the ride.

Insider’s 2016 year in review

Insider, a personalization and predictive marketing tool where we’re investors, recently shared its 2016 year in review. At less than 2 minutes, it’s a short and to the point clip.

The highlight of the clip for me is the list of the new offices that Insider set up in 2016 on its journey to become a global company. This journey will continue in 2017.

You can watch the full clip below.

Insider at the Webrazzi Summit

Hande Cilingir, co-founder and CEO of Insider, a multi-channel online marketing technology provider where we’re investors, recently gave a talk at the Webrazzi Summit.

In her talk, Hande talks about Insider’s predictive modeling tool, shares how Insider uses this tool to segment and target its clients’ most valuable customers, and hosts LC Waikiki’s e-commerce director Salih Yilmaz to provide an overview of LC Waikiki’s experiences working with Insider.

You can watch the full talk in Turkish below.

On-demand workers

Wonolo, where we’re investors, provides its corporate customers an on-demand workforce for tasks that require a physical presence. Examples of such tasks include warehouse operations, merchandising, and event staffing.

In a recent blog post, Wonolo’s co-founder Yong Kim uses a personal anecdote about his uncle to illustrate the important worker need that on-demand companies fulfill. Although not all on-demand companies will be successful, Yong argues, and I agree, that the on-demand economy overall is here to stay.

The reason is that on-demand companies don’t just give consumers what they want. This is widely accepted. Equally important, they give workers what they need.

As a result, we need a new category of worker somewhere between an employee and an independent contractor to emerge. This is a topic I wrote about in an earlier post which Yong also puts forth in his post.

You can read Yong’s full post here.

Making your buyers look like heroes

I was recently meeting with one of our enterprise SaaS companies. We were reviewing the company’s performance in 2015, a year in which the company has been very successful in acquiring new customers. I asked our entrepreneur what was behind the sales team’s success. My expectation was that his answer would highlight the company’s successful sales team recruitment and variable compensation strategies, as well as the strength of the company’s product.

While these factors were part of the answer, they were not the most important factor. The entrepreneur shared that the most important reason behind the company’s sales success was that each sales team member focused on making the person responsible for their customer’s buying decision look like a hero inside their company. This requires more than just a great product. Specifically, it requires that people inside the customer company know how great the product which the buyer purchased is.

To achieve this, our startup prepares case studies contrasting the customer company’s performance on relevant metrics before and after our startup’s SaaS tool is implemented. This is something that the buyer could prepare themselves, and the best buyers do prepare this output. However, many don’t. And even those who do may not present the performance difference as clearly as our startup. Our startup knows how to best convey the uplift from having prepared the same presentation for tens of other companies.

The result of this effort is that the buyer looks like a hero inside the company. And when the buyer looks good, they’re more likely to refer our startup’s product to buyers in the same role at other companies. They become advocates for our startup and this makes it easier for our startup to acquire new customers. They’re also more likely to renew their contract when the time comes, a consequence we’ll likely observe in 2016.

If you’re an enterprise SaaS company, making your buyers look like heroes is a cost effective way for you to acquire new customers and retain existing ones.

Insider’s international presence

I wrote about our customer acquisition and conversion optimization SaaS startup Insider in an earlier post. Insider is a rare example of a SaaS company emerging from Turkey.

The reason why there are few SaaS companies created in Turkey is because, unlike e-commerce, marketplace, and classifieds businesses whose local operational requirements give an advantage to local players, SaaS businesses tend to compete globally. Turkish startups have traditionally chosen to focus on serving local needs rather than engaging in global competition.

Insider is an exception. In addition to its Turkish operations, Insider has offices in London, Dubai, and Moscow. It serves leading players in each of these markets including Trendyol, eBay, Aramex, and Lamoda. The company recently opened its Warsaw office and plans to open additional offices in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Brazil, and Spain throughout 2016.

Rather than being content with playing in its own backyard, Insider is pursuing a much more ambitious goal. And it is doing so successfully. Insider’s performance in the geographies it has entered so far shows that it’s possible for a SaaS company headquartered in Turkey to succeed in international waters.

I hope that Insider serves as a role model which accelerates the creation of new SaaS businesses in Turkey.