Indian venture capital fund Blume Ventures has announced investments in research marketplace Infollion, consumer research firm Voxapp and what appears to be a fashion discovery site called Paletly. A quick take on each of these investments:
Among these recent investments, we found Infollion is particularly interesting: it’s an online platform which offers a combination of three types of research services: it has a marketplace for research reports, allows custom research and also has an expert panel, with independent industry experts who take up hourly consultations or research projects. This is similar to GLG (Gerson Lehrman Group), only that it also offers a research reports marketplace. According to the Blume Ventures report, Infollion has crossed 3000 experts on its panel (GLG claims 25,000), and did a total revenue of Rs 40 lakh in the first quarter of this year. The investment was apparently made in March 2013 (this year), and, as per Blume, Infollion plans to automate its search, scheduling and calling process. The challenge for Infollion will be to keep the activity on its expert platform going: both in terms of marketing research reports, as well as getting research for their panel of experts.
Blume has made a syndicate investment in Paletly, along with individual angel investors, Kae Capital and Mumbai Angels. Paletly is a site which aggregates photographs from the web – often celebrity photographs – and showcases items of clothing similar to those which appear in the photographs. These are then linked to e-commerce stores, and it is likely that they make a commission from these sales. According to Blume, Paletly has 120,000 visits per month, and features over 300,000 products. The tricky part of this business is to find articles on sale that are similar to those in the photographs, and Palet.ly appears to be working on an Image Recognition algorithm for the same.
Voxapp has been founded by Madhu Sudhan and Akshaya Arora, and Blume has co-invested in them along-with Palaash Ventures and Pragati Equity Advisors, as well as individual angel investors currently or previously with the TV18 group. It’s worth noting that before founding VoxApp, Sudhan was a principal at Pragti, before which he was as associate at Capital18.
According to the Blume report, VoxApp is building a mobile consumer data platform – the “ad-words for market research”, which will enable marketers to acquire survey responses directly from consumers on their mobile phones and thereby replace the “data collection agency” – a fragmented, nation-wide network of outfits that collect data through paper+pencil surveys.
Essentially, it appears to be a survey platform, allowing users to create surveys, push them to an audience, and check the analytics. Where it will probably differ from the likes of SurveyMonkey is that VoxApp has its own panel to which the survey can be published. This is something that the likes of Informate, which has its own panel for tracking mobile usage, can also do, but Voxapp will have to allow research agencies to create their own panels.
Voxapp has launched a minimum viable product in beta, and piloted a project in June 2013. The Android app is expected to launch by the 1st week of August.
Update: Blume Ventures has also co-invested in the Hyderabad-based NowFloats, along with Mumbai Angels and individual angels.
NowFloats is a location based mobile service which aims to provide relevant and contextual information to users based on their current location and time. However, the company now seems to be focusing more on providing an online presence to small and medium businesses. It allows businesses to set up a website and regularly update it via SMS, mobile app on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8 and NowFloats website.
The company currently offers three annual plans starting at Rs 5,000 (SMS), going up to Rs 12,ooo (SMS & mobile app) and Rs 21,000 (SMS, mobile app and web).