According to statista, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021. That’s a lot of shopping! Which means plenty of product comparisons, empty baskets, shopper reviews and missed opportunities by brands, big and small. It’s no surprise then the volume of startups developing technology to improve the retail landscape.
Incubyte is home to Tactful.ai a smart virtual shopping assistance technology that online merchants can seamlessly integrate into their sales channels. Founded by Mohamed Elmasry in 2016,Tactful.ai now employs 8 bright software engineers, marketing, sales and an operations team. Since 2016, Tactful.ai has engaged with over 150 global businesses and their solution is being used by a number of retailers serving over 2 million consumers on monthly basis. Tactful.ai proved to be a fully automated and cost effective solution for retailers to sell and improve conversions online.
We speak to Mohamed about the challenges and joys of running a startup, and what’s next for Tactful.ai.
Mohamed, tell us why you founded Tactful.ai?
I migrated to the UK in 2015; me and my wife with just two medium sized suitcases with the basics packed. Pretty soon we had to re-establish our life which involved lots of painful shopping for everything you can imagine. We had a tight budget amongst other constraints, so the purchasing decisions were difficult to make and time consuming. We were faced with many questions to answer, research to do and comparisons to make.
At that point, online shopping wasn’t as easy and seamless as it could be and it seemed to be getting more complicated as the number of offerings increased to accommodate consumers’ sophisticated lifestyle. The intended impact of tactful.ai. is to improve this experience by doubling on personalization and boosting recommendation accuracy.
What’s the engine room like at Tactful? Tell us about your team!
Team is definitely the king in a startup. I love being in one, especially the tactful.ai. startup which is full of this unique team spirit which is crucial during the tough journey startups so often have to navigate.
We have a special and winning blend at tactful.ai starting with my co-founder and CTO M Hassan who has been in enterprise and cloud software development for over a decade delivering projects in companies like DELL, Disney, and Bank of America.
I’ve worked in high tech and startup ecosystems for more than 16 years building unique products and outstanding teams from the ground-up. In a previous startup where I was worked with senior management team to sell IP assets to Synopsys – the famous EDA and IP company. More recently I worked for Arm the leading processor IP company managing high profile developments across multiple sites.
At the core of our team is a mix of software, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and business development nerds. We’re on a mission to revolutionize business and user experience and believe AI is the solution.
Startup culture, how would you sum it up?
A winning startup is a place where a team of resilient and homogenous people spot an opportunity to disrupt a market or an industry and work hard and smart to realize it.
How was the process of taking Tactful to market? What market research surprised you? Did you need to seek investment or funding?
Despite the intensive research we made about the state of retail and challenges it faced, our business model and product concept evolved and pivoted a few times. We knew it’s the direct engagement with clients that will shape the problem statement as well as the solution.
We use a lean approach of product development and testing key business hypotheses. We had several MVPs before one started to connect with our target customers.
Thereafter, tactful.ai went through several optimizations to address evolving client needs. It’s interesting how our clients drive the features required by finding gaps as they actively use the product and feed this back to us. We definitely enjoy this close relationship with our clients.
We’ve already utilised some investment money and we’re capitalising on early revenue which is helping with cash flow. We are planning and working on our first major funding round.
What’s in the pipeline for you over the next 6-12 months?
We’ve started to work with businesses that have more sophisticated needs that will keep us busy improving our platform and AI engines.
We have also started to build a network of resellers and partners that will help us grow our sales and access global markets and opportunities. Fortunately, we already have a large number of high potential leads in the funnel, so we’re focused on converting those.
How is it working on the Cambridge Innovation Park?
Rob (founder of Incubyte) and I share common background having both worked at Arm in Cambridge. I visited Rob at the Cambridge Innovation Park (CIP) when we were seeking a home for tactful.ai. Quickly we realised that both companies were perfect match and signed the agreement.
The move has been beneficial for tactful.ai ; what with the number of businesses homed at CIP, there is always an opportunity to learn new things, connect with more smart, energetic people. It’s simply a great place to do business.
The most value we’ve recognised is the access to experienced mentors and business advisers.
For more information about tactful.ai, visit their website.