Accel-backed personal assistant app Mihup halts operations

Kolkata-based Mihup Communications Pvt Ltd, which operates Mihup, an artificial intelligence-based personal mobile assistant app, has ceased its operations, according to a person familiar with the development.

It is not clear when and why the startup halted its operations. The company’s desktop site is non-operational and the mobile app could not be found on the Google Play Store.

“Working hard to come back soon,” read a message on the company’s website.

When contacted, Biplab Chakraborty, one of the co-founders, said that the company was in the midst of pivoting to a business to business model.

“We have shifted our focus to a B2B model. Hence, you will currently not find the Mihup app on the Play Store,” he said.

However, he refused to elaborate further on the B2B pivot and when the startup will resume operations. E-mail queries sent to Tapan Barman, the other co-founder, did not elicit a response at the time of filing this report. The copy will be updated as and when responses are received.

In August last year, Mihup raised about Rs 45 crore ($6.7 million) from Accel Partners. The app, which was in its beta stages of testing, was supposed to have been rolled out after the Diwali festive season last year, the company had then stated. Hence, it is not clear when the app was actually launched and how long it was operational before it was taken down.

Mihup was launched as a beta stage application in 2014 by engineering professionals Barman, Chakraborty and Sandipan Mandal. The AI-based inter-platform recommendation engine provides information on travel, sports, news, entertainment restaurants and more. Barman and Chakraborty are also the co-founders of Nectar Consultancy Services, a product development and IT services company from where the Mihup chat assistant was developed.

According to information available on its website, Nectar Consultancy is also developing other products such as Eagle’s Eye, a Salesforce automation platform that can work without the Internet, and Katha, an automatic speech recognition system in Bengali. However, it is not clear whether these products have been rolled out as of yet or still under development.

This is not the first instance where a venture operating in the personal assistant and on-demand concierge services space is undergoing a B2B pivot. Founders have cited low margins to challenges in scaling up and customer acquisition as some of the reasons for the pivot.

Besides, a B2B pivot also presents an easier opportunity in identifying and addressing a genuine pain point besides offering a clear visibility on its target customer audience.

Recently, VCCircle reported that task management app MagicX, backed by K Ganesh’s (of Portea Medical fame) GrowthStory and Kris Gopalakrishnan (Infosys co-founder), had halted operations as it was in the midst of a B2B pivot while also undergoing a rebranding.

In June last year, Jo Hukum, an app-based provider of concierge services also pivoted into B2B for better monetisation, its founder told VCCircle then.

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