Bangalore-based Magiclane App Services Pvt. Ltd, which operated on-demand task management app MagicX, has halted its operations, a person familiar with the development told VCCircle.
The company’s desktop website is non-operational while repeated attempts to install and use the mobile app from Google Play Store were unsuccessful.
A spokesperson from GrowthStory, the promoter of the venture, confirmed the development and said that MagicX ceased operations sometime during the latter part of 2016. However, he added that the venture was in the midst of pivoting to a business-to-business model and has already been rebranded. It is currently in stealth mode.
“It was basically about a fundamental shift in thought as to what would work in the future. Besides, the ability to scale amidst an extensive human interface in the business-to-consumer scheme of things became a challenge,” the spokesperson added.
GrowthStory is a venture building and investment platform for startups founded by Bangalore-based serial entrepreneurs, K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh, of Portea Medical fame.
Co-founders Pratyush Prasanna (chief executive) and Arun Kumar have quit the startup, the spokesperson cited above said. Since March this year, Prasanna has been heading the Indian operations of US-based payments technology startup Poynt, his LinkedIn profile shows. E-mail queries sent to Prasanna did not elicit a response at the time of filing this report.
In April last year, MagicX raised $1 million (around Rs 6.6 crore) in seed funding from Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan; Manipal Education and Medical Group MD and chief executive Dr Ranjan Pai; Sify co-founder R Ramaraj; Singapore-based Lionrock Capital’s partner Hari Kumar; and CMS Computers MD Aarti Grover. The company had then said it was in talks with four venture capital firms to raise $5 million in a Series A round, which apparently did not materialise, according to the spokesperson.
Launched in February 2016 by Prasanna and Kumar, MagicX enabled users to carry out day-to-day tasks including grocery shopping, bill payments, mobile recharge, ordering food, booking flight tickets and other utility services through a chat-enabled, artificial intelligence platform. MagicX was earlier known as Magic Tiger.
Prior to this venture, Prasanna served as vice president at Paytm. He had earlier founded Plustxt, a privacy-enabled text messaging service that was later acquired by Paytm in 2013. Arun Kumar served as senior vice president at healthcare startup Portea Medical before establishing MagicX.
The B2B pivot
The tech team of MagicX took over the operations of the company late last year, which has already undergone a B2B pivot while rebranding itself as Verloop, under the same parent entity.
Gaurav Singh, who was earlier part of the tech team of MagicX, is the founder of this venture. He was earlier founder of GoDeliver, a hyperlocal on-demand platform that allows users to request items and services using a chat interface. The company was acquired by MagicX in 2015.
Verloop, which has been in stealth mode since October 2016, has already on-boarded more than 20 clients that include Livpure, LockTheDeal, Aadhaar Bridge, Portea Medical, and HelloClass, besides banks and insurance companies in Southeast Asia and media businesses in the Middle East. The startup is expected to formally launch its operations by August this year.
According to Singh, the startup’s products are still being developed and it will require some more months for them to be commercially viable. While the new venture will continue to operate as a chatbot-based customer engagement platform, the interface will have fewer human elements and will be predominantly driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“As this was a tech-led opportunity that offered machine learning, we realised we could make the platform better with more data that was made available. Besides, enterprises have a lot of data which they were sharing with us and we were able to refine the platform much quicker and make it more powerful,” said Singh.
Besides English, Verloop can support regional languages like Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil. Singh claims that the AI-based engagement platform has already managed to achieve 94.56% accuracy in understanding English and 93% accuracy in understanding Hindi.
The platform works across seven popular communication and social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, Skype, Slack, Kik Interactive and Google, all out of the box. The company has also filed a patent for an algorithm that will automatically transfer chats to a human when the AI platform is unable to engage with a user.
Conversational and chat-enabled commerce is touted to be the future of consumer engagement. Recently, Ratan Tata-backed AI-based conversational platform Niki.ai raised two rounds of funding from German software firm SAP’s new fund SAP.iO and Haresh Chawla, a partner at India Value Fund Advisors (IVFA).
In March, DoneThing, another startup in the space, raised Rs 2 crore (about $300,000) from Brand Capital, the investment arm of media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman and Co Ltd.