Emerging Entrepreneurs

How crunching numbers can multiply your business

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on January 23, 2018

Pradeep Gulipalli, co-founder, Tiger Analytics   -  N. Ramakrishnan

Tiger Analytics helps clients act at the granular level

Ask Pradeep Gulipalli, co-founder and Chief Delivery Officer of analytics firm Tiger Analytics, to give an example of the kind of work they do and he recalls one of the earliest projects they took up. It was in the railway industry, where, he says, one of the biggest expenses for a railway company is the wheels, which have to be replaced nearly every three years due to wear and tear. The dilemma for railway companies is to when exactly replace the wheels. If they replace them too early, they have replaced good wheels. But if they delay the replacement, there is the risk of accidents.

Overseas, governments have mandated that sensors be fitted at various points on the track. These sensors send out signals when a train passes over. Based on the signal, it is possible, says Pradeep, to find out whether the wheel has gone bad or is still in good shape. One of the problems, he adds, that their customer was facing was that sometimes the sensors would become defective and send out incorrect signals. The question was to know when the wheels was defective and when the sensor was malfunctioning, he says.

Tiger came up with a solution for this. Whenever there is a signal that the wheel is bad, they re-analyse the sensor data, to find out whether the wheel is really defective or whether the sensor is not working properly. “This was a huge success,” says Pradeep. “Today this solution has been adopted as an industry best practice in North America. All the signals that come from sensors there pass through this system,” adds Pradeep. “It is one of the big success stories we have had,” he says.

Tiger Analytics – founded by Mahesh Kumar, 39, Chief Executive Officer, and Pradeep, 35 – is working with is a large brokerage firm, which wants them to predict when any of its customers are going to leave them. Tiger looked at the frequency and type of transactions and built mathematical models to say which customers can be considered safe bets and which customers fall under the risky category. This, according to Pradeep, helped the brokerage firm’s customer service team to intervene.

Big shift

Pradeep, who has civil engineering degree from IIT Madras and a Master’s in transportation planning from the University of Texas at Austin, worked in a marketing consulting firm in Boston, doing mathematical models and simulations. He says he got in touch with Mahesh, who has a Ph.D in Operations Research from MIT and a B.Tech in computer science from IIT Bombay, through a social networking site. They realised there was a big shift happening in the analytics space, where thanks to technology it was possible to crunch large amounts of data, analyse it and act on it at a much more granular level.

The duo set up Tiger Analytics in early 2012, with a small initial team in the US. The India office, along Chennai’s IT corridor, then came up. Tiger Analytics has about 200 employees, 30-35 in the US and the rest in Chennai. According to Pradeep, 70 per cent of its clients are in the US and the balance in India and in Europe. The company’s focus is on financial services industry and retail Consumer Packaged Goods industry.

According to Pradeep, they started off working with smaller companies that needed data to be analysed, but could not do it either themselves or hire external consultants. Over the last three years, it has started working with large enterprise clients, thanks to referrals. Tiger Analytics has been completely bootstrapped and has not raised any external funding. Pradeep feels there is no need for them to raise funds for the moment.

Published on January 22, 2018

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