Bloemfontein tech start-up raises funds at R130m valuation - TechCentral

Bloemfontein tech start-up raises funds at R130m valuation

Vian Chinner

Xineoh, a technology start-up based in Bloemfontein, has just secured US$2m in venture capital funding, giving it a valuation of $10m, or more than R130m at the current exchange rate.

The company, which specialises in artificial intelligence and machine learning — it builds algorithms that predict potential purchasing behaviour — received the funding to further develop its video-streaming site VideoLlama, which it describes as a “one-stop personal shopping assistant for video streaming”.

It will be rolled out initially in the US in the coming months.

The company, founded in 2014, has previously developed software that was used to generate traffic, via its own shopping comparison website, for retail giants such as Amazon and eBay, where it operated as an affiliate.

An investment bank in Vancouver helped Xineoh conduct the raise. The funding is take place through the reverse takeover of a cash shell held by the bank, with the effect that the old Xineoh entity receives 75% of the shares in the shell, therewith raising the money. The shell will be renamed to Xineoh Technologies.

Xineoh, which has eight full-time developers and which has offices in Oregon in the north-western US, in Vancouver in Canada and in Cape Town, has built an algorithm that “bears similarities to those used by the likes of Amazon.com and Netflix, tapping into user behaviour to predict potential purchasing behaviour and serve users bespoke information likely to incite conversion”, it said.

“Xineoh’s algorithm relies on available rather than inputted information, creating associations based on the way other users have interacted with the same product or service, thus enabling it to be used across a wide variety of industries and generate uncannily accurate recommendations.”

Other industries

CEO Vian Chinner said the algorithm can be scaled and used across a range of industries.

“Our aim is to help businesses move customers as efficiently as possible, from first contact through to conversion, using artificial intelligence to tap into the real causative factors proven to drive purchasing behaviour,” Chinner said.

VideoLlama, when it is launched, will tap into video-streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu to find users the best streaming deals. It will use the Xineoh algorithm to offer calculated recommendations based on future rather than past behaviour, the company said.

“The major problem with streaming services today is that they tend to offer up recommendations based on how much you will like a specific movie or show,” said Chinner. “And while they aren’t inherently wrong, they don’t necessarily offer up real value for viewers.”

“With VideoLlama, we’ve tapped into our algorithm to serve up realistic recommendations based on the behaviour of others, serving the types of movies or shows you’re likely to stream based on the time of day, your company and various other latent variables.”

VideoLlama allows users to swipe left or right based on their preferences and specify various viewing parameters, such as whether they’re watching with a partner or a child. The algorithm then retrieves relevant titles and begins to refine its offerings based on individual preferences.

Xineoh said it plans to tap into other industries later, with a specific focus on the property sector.

“Property is a high-investment purchase and, given the economic environment, real-estate portals now need to entice users within the first 10 seconds if they have any realistic hope of sustaining interest,” said Chinner.

“Using our algorithm, these sites will be better able to serve users with homes based on what they’re actually looking for, tapping into known associations to produce a refined, concise offering far more likely to result in conversion.”  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

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