The reality check
TELiBrahma, a company that enables location-based and augmented reality-based solutions to brands and retailers, aims to be an internationally recognised technology brand
When Ramya walked in to a mall in Bengaluru, she got a ‘Buzz’ on her mobile phone. She was offered a special discount offer coupon from Louis Philippe. This instant delivery of coupons on her mobile phone could be redeemed at any Louis Philippe store and she would get an additional 5 per cent discount on the regular 30 per cent discount. The apparel brand Louis Philippe had organised an end of season sale in July – August 2012 and was looking for a more effective way of communicating the offers to drive its sales. While social media and SMS’ were new channels to distribute the coupons, they did not demonstrate real increase in footfalls that can be directly attributed to those channels. The brand wanted to explore the opportunity that mobile phones present in terms of location-based advertising. It deployed a campaign on TELiBrahma’s product Buzz. It realised that 41 per cent of the users who received the coupon redeemed it at a nearby store and goods worth Rs. 20.50 lakh were sold from redemption of coupons accepted through Buzz.
Incorporated in the year 2004, TELiBrahma, enables location-based and augmented reality-based solutions to brands and retailers. Its product, Buzz, a location-based service enables consumers to access free entertainment and information, in real time, based on the locations they visit. The company targets the telecommunication operators and Wi-Fi service providers through Buzz as it can monetise their infrastructure. Buzz facilitates retailers with additional media options; while helping brands with more effective digital strategy to accelerate their reach. It delivers media content and location-based services to consumers at no cost to them. For instance, consumers can receive a daily mobile magazine, free mobile games, offers at the locations and even live sports updates on their mobile phones.
TELiBrahma sees a lot of growth coming from retail, advertising and media and it has expanded its operations to Singapore and Australia. It has started a pilot phase for the U.S. market and is also getting ready for the full-fledged operations there.
TELiBrahma has created the Buzz network across the country in over 1,500 key locations like Barista, Nirulas, Café Coffee Day; retail areas like malls, Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle, Spencer’s, More, stadiums and corporate areas like airports, canteens and exhibitions.
Its other product, Point, is an image and audio recognition technology to make brand presence interactive. This platform connects consumers to the digital world by simply focusing on the static print content. “We have an in-house team which monitors the usage depending upon the analytics required for our clients across,” says Suresh Narasimha, founder-CEO. So a consumer can use Point to capture movie posters, logos of shops, restaurants, Point powered media (newspapers, magazines and TV) and advertisements and any pictures that are Point enabled.
The early days
Suresh Narasimha and Ravi B.R. met in the year 2000 when they were working with eVector – a mobile software company that develops products for operators. While eVector did not take off, the duo felt there was a strong potential to partner and build an innovative company. “We had a vision of creating a products company out of India and the best way of doing it was to start our own company,” recalls Narasimha. However, they had three basic challenges after they started TELiBrahma - grooming required talent for running a product business, taking a new, globally unique concept and product to the market and monetising it successfully and raising funds.
“We built the company on advances from our customers,” recalls Narasimha. However, subsequently the company raised funds from Kitven (exited in a subsequent round), Inventus Capital, Ojas Venture Partners and Intel capital. It raised US $2 million from Inventus Capital and Ojas Venture Partners in 2008. In November 2011, it raised US $5 million from Intel Capital which was mostly used for expanding its operations across global markets.
The growing up phase
“When we started TELiBrahma, we built mobile-based solutions for various cases,” says Narasimha. For instance, the company developed a BlackBerry application for the Bengaluru Traffic Police to track repeat offenders and issue challans on spot. A similar solution was implemented for tax collection from Chennai Corporation. “In a country like India, where the GPRS penetration was too low (then) we saw a huge opportunity in building a network outside GPRS to reach the consumers,” states Narasimha. In 2008, TELiBrahma started focusing on helping advertising, media and retail and launched its proprietary BluFi network away from the operators to deliver multimedia content and location-based services.
Currently, the company makes its revenue by integrating mobile phones with traditional media investments of global brands. “Our technologies help global brands to achieve higher ROI from their traditional media spends and accelerate their shift towards digital,” says Narasimha. It charges its advertisers based on the value it delivers to their media metrics.
Augmented reality technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. It is a horizontal technology with the ability to create opportunities across several verticals. What drives this hypothesis is the ability of this technology to enable integration between the offline and online world; growth of smartphones and mobile Internet usage and the ability of mobile phones to deliver accurate consumer context in a secure environment.
According to Juniper Research, the market size of augmented reality (AR) based solutions is expected to grow to US $732 million by 2014 fuelled by advertising and US $2 billion by 2015 from less than US $10 million at present. “With the mobile phone advertising market growing between 40 per cent-60 per cent in several markets around the globe, AR represents a huge opportunity within the mobile advertising ecosystem. It has the potential to disrupt advertising and search,” opines Narasimha.
The company focuses on media, advertising and retail sector, at large. Within advertising, its focus verticals are automobile, FMCG, lifestyle, technology and real estate. Recently, international magazine Maxim India - known for its pictorials featuring celebrities, actors and models - decided to use the augmented reality technology, POINT app, from TELiBrahma. “When users capture the pictures of Maxim India from their camera enabled feature phones, smartphones or tablets using the POINT app, the cover page editorial comes alive into an interactive experience. Through this, users will be directed to exclusive videos and slide shows of the featured model. Users would also be directed to mobile site; social media connect and be able to watch the previous cover page videos of Maxim,” explains Narasimha.
The growth path
The company believes that India offers a great opportunity to create and disrupt product offerings for global markets. It has built marketing solutions for some of the world’s top brands like Nike, Coke, HSBC and General Motors. It sees a lot of growth coming from retail, advertising and media and it has expanded its operations to Singapore and Australia. It currently exports to the Middle East and South East Asia. It has started a pilot phase for the U.S. market and is also getting ready for full-fledged operations there. “Our approach is to go vertical by vertical though the technology is horizontal,” says Narasimha.
TELiBrahma would like to identify itself as an internationally recognised technology brand and has, over a period of time, built well qualified resources and clientele to take the company to the next level. The company plans to replicate its India story in at least three other major geographies – the U.S., Asia pacific region and Middle East - in the next 18 months. “We want to be the primary destination that helps consumers decide what they want to shop in a given area, globally. Our focus on mobile, virtual product experiences and location-based engagements are steps in that direction,” concludes Narasimha.
Founder: Suresh Narasimha and Ravi B.R.
Funding: US $2 million from Inventus Capital and Ojas Venture Partners in 2008; In November 2011 it raised US $5 million from Intel Capital
Expects growth to come from retail, advertising and media
Expanded its operations to Singapore and Australia
Started a pilot phase for the U.S. market and is getting ready for the full-fledged operations there
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