Ebizu, a Malaysian business solutions provider, is helping brick-and-mortar retailers reach and engage their customers via mobile devices by adding hyperlocal and customized context to existing text-based marketing. Thanks to beacons, retailers can now send personalized and location-based notifications in the right place at the right time, and boost their mobile marketing efforts enormously.
Ebizu was recently awarded $139K in seed funding, and so we thought it would be a great chance to discuss new opportunities as well as their future strategies. We sat down with Rohit Maheswaran, Chief Product Officer at Ebizu - here's what we found out.
Kontakt.io: Could you briefly describe the Southern Asia retail market?
Rohit Maheswaran, Ebizu: The retail market in Southeast Asia is a multi-trillion dollar market with over 600 million consumers, thousands of malls and millions of retailers.
Kontakt.io: What is your position on this huge market?
Rohit Maheswaran: Brick-and-mortar sales in Southeast Asia generate 95 percent of total retail revenue. So the market hasn't changed or used technology in any significant way for many years now. The smartphone penetration in this region is between 40 and 80 percent. Our goal is to reach 200k retailers that reach over 200 million consumers. So the potential size of this market could be around two to five billion dollars. What’s really exciting is that there are no actual competitors yet. There are some companies offering mobile-marketing solutions, but just a few use proximity. None of them, though, is doing it at the scale Ebizu is.
Kontakt.io: Where is Ebizu present and how does it work for retailers?
Rohit Maheswaran: Currently, Ebizu is being rolled out in Malaysia and Jakarta. We're going to take over Singapore, Philippines and Thailand next year. Our goal is to make offline retailers' efforts more efficient and engaging than ever before. Then, we’ll provide them with a solution that enables them to engage with their consumers when and where it matters most. Moreover, we will empower them with the knowledge of customers' journeys and purchase decisions. Technically, it works as follows: we sign exclusive deals with malls that allow us to install, manage and maintain beacons. We deploy beacons and build the entire infrastructure. Finally, we offer the beacon network and our software to brands and merchants in a subscription model.
Kontakt.io: What's the biggest challenge for a company with far-reaching goals like yours?
Rohit Maheswaran: The education of retailers and consumers about the technology. The common perception of Bluetooth still goes back to Bluetooth 2.0 which extensively drained the mobile phone's battery. However, I believe that these issues and blockers are only temporary as younger generations become more and more familiar and enthusiastic about the latest technologies. Thanks to technologies like smartwatches, consumers are getting used to keeping Bluetooth always turned on.
Kontakt.io: How are you going to invest your recently-gained funding?
Rohit Maheswaran: We are going to extend our network and deploy beacons in fifteen malls.
Kontakt.io: What are the biggest advantages of having such a big deployment, for Ebizu’s customers and end users?
Rohit Maheswaran: I would say it is the app's availability. Users may connect with many of their favourite brands at different places through just one application. They know that wherever they go, Ebizu enhances their experiences and delivers personalized offers that they wouldn't get otherwise. It also works the other way around -- the more that people are using the app, the more brands there are that are joining the network.
Kontakt.io: It isn't the end of opportunities, though. We understand that you are going to share your beacon network with those who don't necessarily use Ebizu’s business platform…
Rohit Maheswaran: That's true. When Kontakt.io introduced private, shared and public venues, we decided to enable others to use our deployment. Our regional beacon network will shortly be available in a Proximity-as-a-Service model, where we’ll charge the networks' users based on the usage, licence or advertising fee. App developers could use our infrastructure to build their own proximity-aware apps. This beacon network will also eventually become a location-based online advertising network for brands and agencies that could use their existing apps and games to reach consumers. The possibilities are endless. For our future customers, it’s an opportunity to implement custom proximity-marketing solutions without having their own infrastructure. For us, it’s another way to grow our business.
Co-Founder and CPO
Ebizu Sdn Bhd
Rohit Maheswaran is a creative technologist and digital entrepreneur with over 12 years of experience. His field of experience span from mobile marketing, mobile app development, digital strategy, online advertising, content strategy and product development.As the founder and Chief Product Officer (CPO) of Ebizu, Rohit oversees the development of the company’s products and digital solutions. He is dedicated to converging technology and design to develop interfaces that look great and work seamlessly