Ai Palette raises $ 4.4 million to help businesses react to consumer trends faster – TechCrunch
The development of new food and consumer packaged goods can take a few years as companies research, prototype and test products. In a society that operates on social media, however, people expect trends to land on store shelves much faster. Founded in 2018, Ai Palette uses machine learning to help businesses spot trends in real time and prepare them for retail, often within months. The startup, whose clients include Danone, Kellogg’s, Cargill and Dole, announced today that it has raised an oversubscribed $ 4.4 million Series A co-led by pi Ventures and Exfinity Venture Partners. Both will join Ai Palette’s board of directors.
The round also included participation from returning backers, food venture capital firm AgFunder and Decacorn Capital, and new investor Anthill Ventures. This brings Ai Palette’s total raised to $ 5.5 million, including a funding round announced in 2019.
Ai Palette is based in Singapore, with an engineering center in Bangalore. Its clientele began in Southeast Asia, before expanding to China, Japan, the United States and Europe.
Its clientele started in Southeast Asia and India, and expanded to China, Japan, the United States and Europe. Ai Palette supports 15 languages, which the company says is the best of all AI-based tools for predicting consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends. Its funding will be used to expand into more markets and to fulfill engineering and data science roles.
Ai Palette was founded in 2018 by Managing Director Somsubhra GanChoudhuri and CTO Himanshu Upreti, who met through Entrepreneur First, “the talent investor” who recruits and teams up potential founders.
Prior to Ai Palette, GanChoudhuri worked in sales and marketing at Givaudan, the world’s largest manufacturer of fragrances and flavors. This allowed him to see how product innovation is carried out for many types of consumer products, ranging from snacks and fast food to packaged goods. Many companies he worked with were starting to realize that a two-year product innovation cycle could no longer meet demand. Upreti, an expert in advanced machine learning and big data analytics, previously worked at companies such as Visa, where he built models capable of handling petabytes of data.
Ai Palette’s first product is Foresight Engine, which tracks trends like ingredients or flavors, analyzes why they’re popular, and predicts how long demand will last. It also identifies “white space opportunities” or situations where demand is not being met. For example, GanChoudhuri said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people eat – they now eat healthy snacks up to six times a day in front of screens – so businesses have the opportunity to launch new types of products.
Foresight Engine gives contextual information, Upreti said. “For example, is it a food eaten on the go or in a cafe. Is a product consumed socially or individually? What is the trend for children’s birthdays? For a specific product or ingredient, the images provide information about product associations and product format.
The platform uses data from sources such as social media, research, blogs, recipes, menus, and company data. “Popular datasets in each market are prioritized, like a local recipe or a food delivery app,” GanChoudhuri said. “And they are followed over the years to determine the growth path with a high degree of confidence.”
Some specific examples of how Ai Palette’s technology has translated into new products include brands that want to launch a new flavor, such as a crisps or soda, in a specific country. They can use the forecasting engine to not only see which trends are on the rise, but which have the potential to become long-term favorites, so that they don’t invest in a product that will almost instantly lose popularity.
Many Ai Palette customers have used it to respond to new consumer trends and behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, in many markets people are interested in foods that are healthy or believed to boost immunity. For example, in Southeast Asia, demand for lemon and garlic is greater, while acerola and yerba mate are all the rage in the United States.
On the other hand, “in China, taste is of the utmost importance even for health, as people crave food that brings back a sense of normalcy,” GanChoudhuri said. Meanwhile, in India, there is a demand for longer shelf life products as people continue to cope with the pandemic, but many consumers are also looking for good snacks to ease the boredom of the lockdown, the kimchi and other Korean flavors becoming particularly popular.
Ai Palette’s ability to work with many languages is one of the ways it differentiates itself from other machine learning-based trend prediction platforms. It currently supports English, Simplified Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesian, Bahasa Melayu, Tagalog, Spanish, French and German, with l he intends to add more as it targets new European countries, Mexico, Latin America and the Middle East.