One Raleigh startup is hoping to be what its founder describes as a “Fitbit for enterprises.” And it’s already been gaining traction, including landing a spot on Scot Wingo’s 2022 Triangle Tweener List.
Amit Shanker, the founder and CEO of Bloom AI, developed the idea for his company after 18 years in the data analytics business. Shanker was the one in charge of setting up analytics company Evalueserve’s office in downtown Raleigh. During his time at Evalueserve, he routinely heard from business clients that even with the rise of data tools like cloud adoption and AI, businesses were fundamentally still overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data they have to analyze.
“They’re all collecting a lot of data,” Shanker said. “They’re all storing a lot of data. But when they were sharing that data or delivering that data to the business, it was being done in very large, complex dashboards or reports, and a lot of my clients were simply challenged.”
So Shanker decided to take the entrepreneurial leap. He spoke to engineers at Airbnb, LinkedIn and Dropbox, diving into how they’ve solved this problem of scale at their organizations. He then put this research to use and started building a MVP that he could take to market in early 2021.
The current Bloom AI product can collect data from sales and marketing, risk, operations or supply chain. Essentially, Shanker said, they bring all the metrics together in one place, then generate very simple insights that can be shared with business users. These analytical summaries prove superior to a large dashboard, which can become overwhelming for a business to actually apply to their business decisions.
Bloom AI also applies machine learning to provide more intelligence around anomalies or patterns in the data which might be relevant to a business. And teams are able to more effectively communicate with short data stories rather than long-form reports to their team members.
The 12-person Bloom AI team is spread across the globe, reflecting the current state of post-pandemic workforces.
Shanker said when he first started the business, he thought of the many things that could go wrong: funding, securing clients, product development. He hadn’t considered how much of a compelling proposition he would need to show in order to hire people. That turned out to be the most difficult thing, Shanker said.
Now, however, the team is strong and looking to grow in the United States.
“I wanted to hire young people who were very driven to build something new,” Shanker said. “When we didn’t even know what kind of product we were building, my vision to them was we’re trying to build a Fitbit for enterprises.”
Already, Shanker said, the market has validated what Bloom AI has developed in its MVP. That’s not to say that the path to achieving startup success is an easy one, and there have been challenges beyond the day-to-day business grind.
“A lot of people want to do startups, but they don’t really know what it takes to do it,” Shanker said. “It takes a mental toll on you and your family. For me, mental health has been a very important factor.”
Maintaining his own health, both physically and mentally, has been critical, and Shanker said he relies on the Triangle tech community for support.
It’s also been important to keep potential clients engaged early on, Shanker said, instead of getting so caught up in the product and technology that you neglect product-market fit. Through conversations with these clients, Shanker and the Bloom AI team have been reaffirmed in their mission: they want to empower businesses with data.
“We think people are best when they’re creative, when they’re developing things,” Shanker said. “But I think it’s becoming harder to do that without having insights and data being available. Today, the reality is that a lot of the business people are just overwhelmed with data because it’s growing so quickly. So how do we really break that down into very simple and digestible ways so that it can be more meaningful for them every day?”
Bloom AI is currently backed by angel investor Ashok Mathur, the CEO of Cary-based Patagonia Health. Next year, the startup is looking to raise seed funding in the $1-$1.5 million range. This would allow them to scale to the next level and serve even more customers.
“Rather than always worrying about dashboards and looking at data here and there, how can I give you concise insights so that you can be more productive?” Shanker said. “Every company understands the importance of data for business, but I don’t think we’ve really been able to cross this sort of last mile.”