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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Exclusive: AI firm Flytxt eyes 10 times organic growth in five years

The company, 90% of whose clients are telecoms, is looking to venture into travel and tourism, banking and digital sales

“We are targeting money from large family offices or private equity [firms] from the Middle East and Europe," said Vinod Vasudevan, Group CEO, Flytxt.  Antonie Robertson/The National
“We are targeting money from large family offices or private equity [firms] from the Middle East and Europe," said Vinod Vasudevan, Group CEO, Flytxt.  Antonie Robertson/The National

Marketing intelligence and automation specialist Flytxt expects to grow its global business volumes by 10 times over the next five years. The company is investing $50 million through a mix of debt and private equity financing, said its chief executive.

Based in the Netherlands, the company has so far secured about $10m and is scouting for investors to chip in $40m or more, Vinod Vasudevan told The National.

“We are targeting money from large family offices or private equity [companies] from the Middle East and Europe," he said.

"We are targeting 10 times organic growth [of sales volume] while inorganic [growth] will come later. Over the next three years, we do expect some takeovers or mergers, but nothing has been planned yet."

Flytxt is also considering going public in the next five years, he said.

Nearly a third of Flytxt's client base of more than 100 businesses are in the Middle East and Africa region, which is increasingly investing in artificial intelligence. The company's clients include more than 65 communications service providers such as Vodafone, India's Airtel, and Kuwait's Zain.

Spending on cognitive and AI systems in the MEA amounted to $37.49m in 2017. The market is tipped to reach $114.22m in 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate of 32 per cent for the 2016 to 2021 period, according to the research company International Data Corporation.

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“For the last two years, we grew at over 60 per cent year-on-year [in revenue] globally, and we are aiming to continue the same growth rate during the current financial year (ending on March 31). The same growth rate was reflected in the MEA region,” said Mr Vasudevan.

Founded in 2008, Flytxt offers AI-driven solutions to its clients across 50 countries, to better understand their customers through behaviour insights . The company is backed by technology investors from the Netherlands and Germany - Clifton Holding, IVC Venture Capital, Schnell Consult, Sunrise Capital and RM Beteiligungsverwaltung.

Flytxt has a range of products including NEON-dX, which uses a combination of AI, machine learning and analytics to analyse customer data, derive insights and drive personalised engagement, all in real-time.

“There is a period of six to eight months when the clients start seeing results. Our solutions have also resulted in around 60 per cent increase in product penetration for our clients,” he said.

In July, Flytxt launched Robo-X software targeting marketing professionals, which will be made available to users by October.

“Robo-X is like an AI companion. It will help evaluate huge data and the results of past campaigns. In next 18 months, we are expecting all our current customers to start using it,” he said.

Flytxt, whose 90 per cent customers are telcos, is looking to venture into travel and tourism, and banking and digital sales domains. “Until early 2017, we focused only on telecoms and now it's been a year and a half since we have started venturing into other segments," he said.

The intelligence company employs more than 400 people across all its offices including the UAE, India, the United States, Germany, Singapore, South Africa, Kenya and Mexico. This year alone, Flytxt has made new agreements with Viettel Telecom in Vietnam, America Movil in Central America, and across the entire MTN Group network.

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