In this month’s Meet the Client, we talk to Rahul Chakkara about his customer retention and insights AI SaaS start-up, Manas AI. He tells us more about why the AI-based platform he’s developed with his co-founder can put brands ahead of the competition and shares insights from his journey so far.
Name and job title:
Rahul Chakkara, Founder and CEO, Manas AI
What is it your company does?
Manas AI is an AI-powered customer retention, insight and trends company. In my experience, companies put much more effort into acquiring customers rather than retaining them. Our technology helps companies to retain their customers by identifying patterns of churn behaviour in customer data, interactions and conversations. We also help companies spot issues and trends early on.
Our AI-driven platform extracts intelligence from a variety of data to predict which customers are likely to leave a provider and the reasons why. Companies are able to then retain high-risk customers using targeted and personalised campaigns. This leads to higher customer growth, cost savings and enhanced profitability. According to a Bain and Co. study, a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to anywhere between 25% to 75% increase in profitability.
We are also able to automate tracking of emerging product or customer issues as well as trends in the market by analysing large sets of conversational data – from social media, press and other channels. Our clients can access their customer retention data via a user-friendly website, or use our API for large-scale marketing campaigns.
Who do you work with?
Our clients tend to be consumer firms – ideally those with innovative DNA – in retail, insurance, media telecoms. Many are start-ups just like us, and some are mid-sized companies, as we find that they tend to be more nimble and open to innovation, without the restrictions of complex bespoke systems or a large technology departments.
We are getting interest from new sectors for our products. Many sectors want to track trends, as they feel they are often playing catch-up with their customers and new competitors.
How long have you been in business and how has your business grown?
My co-founder and I, Pavan Alluri, are almost two years into an interesting, exciting and occasionally frustrating journey, that’s been packed with highs and lows.
We’ve made some fantastic progress in that time – we’ve built the product and the platform, we’ve acquired customers and we’re generating revenue. We’re also working on a very exciting project with a leading UK university that’s using our platform to predict the onset of disease.
What inspired you to start your business?
Multiple reasons! Previously I worked in marketing and product development and was very aware many brands struggle with providing good customer experience and retaining their customers. So I have experienced the pain-points having been company-side as well as a consumer. Businesses end up spending lots of money replacing their churning customers. I was also aware of gaps in systems and low intensity of data usage.
Imagine, for instance, the gym that you run has annual revenues of £1000 per customer per year. If a customer leaves, you lose that revenue. You’d need to spend around £200 to find a replacement customer. But if you were to spend £30 and offer that customer a personal trainer session, chances are, they’d re-engage and you’d keep their custom. Manas AI tells you who is going to leave and why. All you need is then to find the personal trainer to keep your customer.
What have been the biggest recent challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
My observation is that the appetite for risk is low in many companies. We see a reluctance to innovate and test new ideas. It reminds me of the early days of digital, when firms waited too long to change and paid the price. Secondly, in companies who want to innovate, they aren’t always that keen to work with start-ups, which is where the real innovation lies.
When we find that a potential client’s appetite for risk is low, we offer to run a pilot. This lowers the risk and cost, helps them to understand what’s feasible and measures the return on investment.
What are your hope and goals for the next 1-3 years?
I have three goals for the future: to provide a five-star experience for our customers and have them stay with us, to scale our business rapidly, and to build an organisation with a fantastic culture. We have so many opportunities to develop our product range and make ourselves sticky. I also believe talent comes from different places and we’d like to grow into a company that’s truly global and flexible. Like Harper James, we will operate virtually and from multiple locations.
What has it been like to work with Harper James?
Harper James came highly recommended to us, which is always a good sign. As an entrepreneur with previously frustrating experiences of traditional law firms, I was impressed with how the firm works, as it aligns with our organisation structure. I have found Harper James timely, high-quality and extremely flexible. I’d definitely recommend Harper James to others.