Today, we profile the third out of six Indian startups vying to secure a semi-finalist spot at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive conference in Laguna Beach, California.
WSJDLive brings together an unmatched group of top CEOs, inspirational founders, game-changing pioneers, enterprising investors and luminaries, who will explore the most exciting technology opportunities from around the world.
The eight semi-finalists will have the opportunity to attend the three-day WSJDLive (October 19-21) and present their companies to an audience that will include Marc Benioff of Salesforce, Virginia Rometty of IBM, Bin Lin of Xiaomi, NSA Chief Admiral Michael Rogers, Tyra Banks of Fierce Capital, Kazuo Hirai of Sony, Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, Stewart Butterfield of Slack, Robin Li of Baidu, Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Richard Plepler of HBO and investor Yuri Milner of DST Global.
To even get there, these eight would have battled some 250 other startups from 26 countries.
Subscribers and readers of VCCircle.com and Techcircle.in get an exclusive, ringside view of the unfolding process, starting with in-depth profiles of the six Indian aspirants.
We started the series on August 24 with Guiddoo, a video-based app alternative to static tourist guides. On September 7, we published a piece on Parentune, a tech startup that aims to be the final word on everything related to parenting.
Today, we profile Cxex.org
While every e-tailer wants to differentiate on customer experience, there aren’t clearly defined, third-party metrics to highlight each player’s strengths and weaknesses. In the absence of such a system, consumers either rely on friends/family for advice or go by their previous buying experience.
Behavioural psychologist Mithun Ekbote now aspires to create a community-driven comparison platform for shoppers with influential users reviewing the buying process on e-commerce ventures.
Ekbote and team are about to launch Cxex.org, a Mumbai-based startup that promises to deploy visually engaging tools and create a platform for reviews, similar to say, a LinkedIn.
Cxex’s ultimate aim is to become the Alexa.com (the popular web traffic analyser) for online shopping.
“Social commerce is about recommending a retailer with simple analytics that a common man understands. This helps in forming expectations and perceptions about the brand while giving a feeling of influence to users,” says Ekbote, who has earlier worked with CouponDunia, Interactive Avenue and ZipDial.
Typically, a review page for Flipkart on Cxex would have questions such as: How easy is it to search products? Are discounts and prices easy to understand? Is the loyalty programme really valuable? How easy is it to return a product? Does it offer personalisation? How would you rate the delivery schedule and tracking processes? How good is the customer service? Did you have to wait a long time before your query was addressed?
Once users rate Flipkart on the basis of these parameters, they will also receive an infographic snapshot that can be shared on social media platforms. “Once it is shared, we do the analytics and tell the user of his influence score vis-à-vis peers and the social community at large,” says Ekbote.
The startup’s algorithms measure the action taken by followers and the impact it creates for the merchant and rest of the cxex.org community on the basis of the infographic.
The startup is reaching out to influential Twitter users and specific blogger communities to build a user base of 10,000 reviewers over the next three months. “If each of the 10,000 influencers rates at least two e-commerce portals, we would have enough data analytics for quite some time,” says Ekbote.
We believe that no player today presents social commerce as the way we are about to. We have a model that can potentially attract interest of online shoppers from across the world. We also have a B2B approach that can eventually open up multiple revenue windows for us.
How hopeful are you of making it to the semi-finals of the WSJDLive Global Startup conference?
What we are trying to do is something that even a five-year-old child would understand. We don’t have the barrier of explaining the technology since it is not a hardcore tech product. What we have is something that everyone experiences in day-to-day life. This is a first-of-its-kind platform in the world.
What do you hope to achieve if you become a semi-finalist and get to represent your company?
This is an ideal platform to present our idea. Again, our product is not limited to a specific geography. We know a new technology or a platform coming from the west has better chances of adoption than a home-grown product. We are planning to launch in India first because we want to showcase the potential of creating in this country. We have validated the idea with a number of VCs and friends in the industry. Now what we need is a platform to present this idea to a larger section of the ecosystem.
Ekbote understands that rating can be a mundane exercise unless there are incentives for the reviewer.
While Cxex doesn’t intend to pay for reviews, Ekbote claims his team will make the exercise psychologically rewarding for the influencers.
“The entire ratings experience today is boring; there are a bunch of questions a brand asks at its convenience and in most cases it doesn’t really represent the true emotion of the user/buyer,” says Ekbote.
Cxex says it visualises each parameter that represents a user’s experience and brings that out in its review questions.
“In a casual social circle, shoppers hardly discuss an experience in terms of numbers. It’s almost always in terms of adjectives (for instance, the service/product was okay, pathetic, brilliant etc.). That’s the intriguing part of our platform design,” Ekbote adds.
Cxex’s main source of income would be tie-ups with e-commerce ventures/brands. It hopes to help e-commerce portals test their new offerings with its “influential reviewers’ network” before opening new services and offers to wider audiences. While the reviewers will stoke multiple interactions on the Cxex platform through their ratings, the brand/portal will pay Cxex for the engagement.
Cxex also provides consulting services to e-commerce companies and helps them improve customer experience. It also plans to release white papers on the basis of the intelligence it generates from user-data.
Cxex will compete with FindYogi.com, BuyHatke.com, PriceRaja.com, Mouthshut.com, Junglee.com, MySmartPrice.com and other platforms that help buyers make informed decisions. However, Ekbote claims his venture will be different from the existing players.
“A lot of companies do ratings, reviews and analytics on user experience,” says Ekbote. “But users don’t really understand these analytics. Users want something that’s visually delightful, easy to understand and which they can easily explain to their parents and friends.”
The company’s four-member team intends to secure seed funding of $100,000 to register itself as a private limited company and for hiring technical/data scientists. Currently, it operates under the Ekajata Solutions banner, but is yet to be incorporated as a legal entity.
“While I appreciate the novelty of the business proposition of Cxex, I am worried the market opportunity might not be too large. Maybe that was one of the motivators for the founders to undertake multiple activities: data analytics, reports, affiliate marketing, consulting, and the like,” says Ajeet Khurana, an angel investor who has put money in startups such as Rolocule Games and United Mobile Apps.
“It will be difficult for a single startup to be good in so many business areas simultaneously. But these are early days for startups in this space, and I hope to be proven wrong,” says Khurana, who is not involved with Cxex.
Cxex’s website is expected to go live by the first week of October. Within six months, the startup aims to launch iOS and Android applications for mobile. The mobile app will also allow users to define and rate their buying experience in shopping malls and stores.