We had a chance to talk to George Krasadakis CEO of Intelligent Markets. Take a look at our Q&A session below.
Please give us a brief description of your startup.
Our startup is named ‘Intelligent Markets’ which clearly reflects our vision: to provide a range of online services enabling ‘intelligent markets’ where consumers and suppliers interact efficiently, based on the ‘perfect information’ principle. Our first implementation is http://www.plantobuy.com which serves this exact purpose: empowers consumers to ‘tell the market about their buying plans’ while at the same time enables retailers to perform intelligent, personalized or even 1-1 offerings.
Where is Intelligent Markets located?
When was Intelligent Markets launched?
We are currently under a ‘soft-launch’ state – operating in beta mode. We are working on funding scenarios and long-term partnerships in order to trigger our mass-media promotion plan.
Who are the Founders of the startup?
Its just me.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
We started two and we are now six.
What position do you hold in the startup?
CEO/ Head of products & innovation
Give us a brief background of yourself.
I have an academic background in Computing & Statistics – I always believed in this combination – what is just now becoming famous as ‘Big data’ or ’Data science‘
I am the founder of datamine decision support systems, Intelligent Markets SA and one of the co-founders of HumanFactor.
I enjoy designing, engineering and marketing innovative online concepts and data-intensive information systems.
Do you have any social media accounts that people can visit to know you better or connect with you?
your LinkedIn Account – http://gr.linkedin.com/in/gkrasadakis/
Your Twitter Account – https://twitter.com/GKrasadakis
What’s your startup about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
In a nutshell, plantobuy.com enables consumers to ‘tell the market’ what they plan-to-buy and retailers to create intelligent personalized or even personal offers. The service is free for consumers – comes with a flexible CPA model for retailers.
Consumers organize their buying plans anonymously, and benefit from highly targeted/ personal offers along with social recommendations – opinions from their network.
Retailers (our customers), no longer need to predict, estimate or guess what consumers need or looking for: they just define the target audience using as primary dimension the ‘buying plan’. That is, a retailer may promote a certain product to those consumers actually planning to buy it or, in a more aggressive scenario, to those planning to buy a competitive one.
Furthermore, retailers now have a brand new capability: to make personal offers directly to selected consumers. Applicable to high-value products/ services (for instance a car), this is a fascinating new type of communication capability enabling retailers to ‘talk to consumers’ who plan-to-buy what they sell.
Here is a brief video for retailers
And here is one for consumers
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
We have both the ideas and the technical expertise to implement them. This provided us with great confidence – although we did realize from the beginning that funding was a critical factor.
How did you go from the business idea to what your business is right now?
We transformed our business idea in an endless product backlog upon which we worked hard doing prototyping and checking several alternative business models. A demanding iterative process through which we delivered version 1.0 of plantobuy.com.
What is the greatest thing about Intelligent Markets? What sets you apart from your competition?
We have numerous great ideas which can reshape the global consumerism model. We see not only profits but also a significant positive impact on our societies. We empower consumers with great tools for better purchasing decisions while at the same time we promote out-performing retailers – introducing criteria beyond ‘offered product price’.
In absolute contrast with the so common ‘junk offers’ phenomenon, plantobuy.com enables highly personalized (even customized/ one-to-one) offers, intelligent, targeted & interactive ads, and a continuous flow of social advice & ideas through the ask.your.network ™ concept.
Another differentiation point is that plantobuy.com enables buying plans across a large number of heterogeneous categories (more than 200). In practice this means that consumers can plan and control all personal, family and small business related purchases.
Moreover, Plantobuy.com redefines the advertising model known so far: users are being served with highly-related ads, they can watch only those of interest, and they can submit feedback to the advertiser – anonymously. We transform ads to content – users get access to an ‘endless’ feed of rich videos, not only ads, all highly-related with the actual/ selected plan.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We are working on the natural extension of plantobuy.com in the travel industry: plantotravel.com – this is another amazing project, large-scale with a range of innovation points. In contrast with plantobuy.com, Greece with its powerful tourism industry, is the ideal market to launch plantotravel.com. Several other amazing projects to be announced – follow us!
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
Well it is very difficult to convince people to participate. Especially when you are doing business in a market like the Greek one: there is limited entrepreneurial spirit, good professionals typically look for ‘job security’ in large ‘conventional’ companies, while VCs are just looking for ‘green energy’ projects and the like. Banking support for a startup is a joke nowadays in Greece. The most difficult tasks I have ever taken are (a) finding partners and (b) raising money. Both still pending.
What major hurdles are you facing now?
Cash-flow issues in combination with extremely time consuming fund-raising processes. At the same time we are trying to build the critical mass (retailers and consumers) which will establish the service and enable a stable cash-flow. And all these within the near-collapsed Greek economy.
What major accomplishments have you so far achieved? any major milestones?
We have implemented version 1.0 of the platform, a scalable, flexible infrastructure ready to support multi-markets scenarios. We have a powerful, well-defined product, along with an exciting product backlog to implement.
The company is formally established (July 2012) and we have gone through a couple of large programs – ‘open beta’ and ‘sunrise for retailers’.
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
About 4,500 active buying plans, 1,100 registered retailers. No revenue for the moment since ‘sunrise program’ (with free use) is still active.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Established in key-markets around the globe through a series of innovative, game-changing online services.
Any major lessons learnt so far?
Our lessons have to do mostly with the team and its synthesis – we now appreciate more than ever the role of a solid, effective HR department! A single bad hire in an early-stage startup can do significant damage. Startups must be extremely careful and selective when establishing the core team: Startups need natural talent, enthusiasm and commitment.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Find partners who share your vision. Hire employees who wish to take risks and ‘see themselves’ in the scheme. Startups need enthusiasm-driven professionals willing to work overnight in order to deliver.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded? Where’d you get the money?
Our startup involves an initial investment of €60K by its founders. Further investment scenarios in progress.
Are you looking for funding? What do you look for in potential investors?
We are in the process of raising additional funds through VCs and business angels. We expect our investors to have a good understanding of the online landscape (we have already wasted a lot of time explaining ‘investment experts’ what a browser is and how CPA pricing works). We are considering both silent and active investment models.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
Actually there is no standard – I enjoy spending about 10hrs per day but during creativity peaks there is no limit at all!
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Checking my online/ real-time environment.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes?
I am only inspired by the unlimited capabilities of the interconnected world and the potential of the human nature.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Defining product specification for next releases in parallel with our global expansion strategy.
What are some of your favorite gadgets? what phone are you using right now? What tablet are you using right now?
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
I would do a postgraduate degree in an unusual, ‘unexpected’ subject. I would support social entrepreneurship by shaping, setting-up and funding ingenious ideas focusing on social transformation instead of profits.