Companies

GrowthStory turns to B2B ventures

N Ramakrishnan Chennai | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 29, 2017

The venture-builder platform wants to adapt its model of using technology to solve consumer problems



After starting consumer facing ventures, GrowthStory, the venture-builder platform of serial entrepreneurs K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh, has now entered the business-to-business space by co-promoting three companies.

The start-ups, based in Bengaluru, are Hunger Box, which is in the B2B food tech space; Verloop, which automates customer engagement; and, Social Frontier, which is building an artificial intelligence and machine learning-backed marketing automation suite.

GrowthStory’s focus has so far been on consumer internet, healthcare, technology, education and the domestic retail consumption story. It has co-promoted ventures such as BigBasket, BlueStone, Portea Medical and Fresh Menu.

Promising ideas

Explaining the change in strategy, K Ganesh says there is now a lot of interest in the B2B space and GrowthStory wants to adapt its model of using technology to solve consumer problems to the B2B sector.

Along with this move into the B2B space, Ganesh says he is looking at two other ideas – social commerce and celebrity commerce – that appear promising.

He believes there is potential for starting ventures in both areas, but is now just studying the idea. It will be a while before he decides whether it is worth starting any venture in either of these sectors.

Celebrity commerce, according to him, is big business in the West, where merchandise is branded and sold based on a celebrity, be it a sportsperson or an actor.

Likewise, payment apps and online wallets have thrown up huge opportunities for social commerce, where, for instance, you can buy a single painting that you have come across on someone’s Facebook page or any other social media site, according to him.

Social Frontier

Typically, GrowthStory has a 50 per cent stake in the companies it co-promotes, with the co-founders holding the balance. It has followed the same route for the three B2B ventures. One of these, Social Frontier, is an offshoot of GrowtStory’s centralised marketing team.

Abdulla Basha was heading the centralised marketing team, which handled end-to-end digital marketing for all GrowthStory ventures till they raised Series B funding.

The centralised marketing team, according to Basha, who is co-founder of Social Frontier, had gained experience in handling huge digital ad spends and in data-driven advertising. This was when Ganesh came up with the idea of using the experience gained to float a separate venture – in this case, Social Frontier – and market its product.

Social Frontier, according to Basha, is building an AI and machine learning-backed marketing automation suite that will help businesses increase their return on investment and reduce the complexities around digital marketing. It offers a unified dashboard for creating, optimising and scaling marketing campaigns across channels. Its clients include BigBasket, FreshMenu, Portea, Asianet and LivPure.

Hunger Box

Another venture is Hunger Box, which is in the B2B food tech space. Sandipan Mitra, co-founder, Hunger Box, was a founder of a food ordering site that got acquired by a bigger player in that space.

According to Mitra, Hunger Box provides customised digital cafeteria solutions for companies, handling food-related issues, including identifying a vendor to run the cafeteria, food safety, food auditing, quality control and management. It has a mobile app through which employees can order their food in the cafeteria.

The companies have a dashboard through which they can monitor what is happening in the cafeteria, get feedback from their employees and ensure zero pilferage.

Hunger Box opened its first digital cafeteria at Firstsource in September 2016 and since then has digitised more than 65 cafeterias for companies such as Qualcomm, GE, Genpact, Accenture, Capgemini, ABB, Mercedes-Benz and British Telecom. It has processed about four million orders on its tech platform and has 130 employees in six cities.

Verloop

The third B2B venture floated by GrowthStory, Verloop, enables companies to automate high-touch points relating to customers. Verloop bots build user profiles, personalise conversations with users, answers queries they may have and try to make the customer engagement meaningful and successful.

Verloop, co-founded by Gaurav Singh, has more than 400 clients, including Apollo Munich Health Insurance, LivPure, LockTheDeal, Nykaa, Manipal group and some in the US. It runs about 75,000 automated conversations a day.

Published on November 29, 2017
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