Launched in 2009, PromptCloud is where “Big Data is made Small”. PromptCloud operates on a Data as a Service (DaaS) model and primarily deals with large-scale “custom” data crawl and extraction. This simply means that they crawl the web (gather data from various sources on the web) for product reviews, blogs, social media, hotel/travel sites etc. and structure this data into XML, CSV etc. which can then be either used directly or processed further according as the requirements of their clients.
They crawl millions of pages and about a TB of data on a daily basis. They have provided more than 200 million reviews of products/hotels to clients across multiplre domains and multiple geographies like US (primarily), UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, India, Singapore, Spain, etc.
Based in Bangalore, PromptCloud was founded by Prashant Kumar. Prashant worked with Yahoo! after graduating from IIT-Kanpur with a dual B.Tech-M.Tech degree in Computer Science and before starting PromptCloud. Currently 6 people strong, the team also consists of alumni from IIT and CMU alumni. “I feel we have a good mix of business and technical acumen and we are just the right number to have ourselves occupied round the clock,” says Prashant, with a smile.
What differentiates PromptCloud is large-scale data (which is why they say Big Data made Small) on a customized basis. “There are many vendors who deal with data scraping or web crawling, but no one really offers this at a large-scale serving such high order of data needs. Other than this, our offering is customized for each client depending on data that they desire,” says Prashant.
They do both deep crawl which is one-time crawl of all past data on the site, as well as refresh crawl which means they provide data deltas as and when data refreshes on the site. “Since our offering is unique and we are currently in a niche market, we face near-zero competition in this space. The market mostly has vendors offering mass data crawling services with very little human touch. But sooner or later, we expect competition as technology barriers get lower and hence we want to establish ourselves as a brand in the DaaS space,” says Prashant.
Their business model is B2B and like other ‘AAS’ (As A Service) models, they have some initial cost and a recurring cost. “Other than this we also have certain one-time set up fees or template costs. Since each project is different, each one would need some setup before we can take off with the actual crawl and extraction. And due to the same reason, costs are never fixed and we offer our customers few knobs which they can tweak depending on the volume of sites and the frequency of data crawl. This model suits both big as well as small businesses and hence no constraints on the size of their pockets,” says Prashant.
Prashant believes that PromptCloud has a pretty big giant to feed in the market. “The reason being that our solution is vertical agnostic. So, anyone who’d like to get access to big data on the web and use it to gain a business advantage would be our target. We’ve already hit it right with e-commerce sites, review provider sites, businesses dealing with hotel and travel data and specifically market research firms. So as you can see we haven’t dived into a specific vertical but have kind of kept all doors open,” he says.
PromptCloud’s market strategy is mostly made up of targeted email marketing and inbound marketing for which they leverage social media. “Also a little amount of SEO just bolsters your image as a credible vendor. Referrals within a network and word of mouth suits us too since businesses with an urging need for data would only like to go with trusted vendors. And more or less, the number one marketing strategy is to make yourself as visible as possible since this effort never goes in vain, and people do remember you when that specific need arises in their businesses if you had made a decent first impression,” says Prashant.
Being one of the first few companies in this space, the challenges that PromptCloud faced were on two fronts – there was considerable technology barrier, but also, and more importantly for a business, they had to reach out to prospective clients and explain them the solution as to where they would fit in, in the whole eco-system. “I must concede however, that the technology barrier makes it easier to hire good people because they like challenges,” says Prashant.
Not too long ago, cloud computing technologies saw adoption only by SMEs due to the fact that they had business agility. Now, however, even the bigger players are shedding their inhibitions and coming in the foreground of cloud. “Another thing that we observe is increasing trend in DaaS after breakthroughs of SaaS and PaaS. This growing adoption is owing to the BigData world we live in these days. There’s so much data on the cloud and so much to explore with it. Both big and small players are fighting individual wars with Big Data analytics and technologies that could process big data in order to derive meaningful insights from data,” says Prashant.
PromptCloud is currently in the process of expanding to new verticals soon. “We aspire to be a one-stop shop for all data needs in a business and continue to be sole provider of large-scale data and custom analytics, while offering differentiation with respect to technology and our expertise. Although we’ve been successful in multiple verticals across geographies, Fortune 500’s could be the next big bite for us. We are one of the key players in the Big Data domain already and would like to continue staying ahead of the curve and keep adapting to the market dynamics,” says Prashant, signing off on a positive note.