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This Hyperlocal AI Startup Is Providing Advanced Mapping Solutions For Enterprises To Target Emerging Markets Nextbillionai in June raised $7 million in a Series A round co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Falcon Edge Capital

By Debarghya Sil

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Photo 01 - (L to R) Nextbillionai founders Gaurav Bubna and Ajay Bulusu

Has it ever happened to you that you are in a cab and running late for a meeting, but further heightening your woes, there is a long traffic snarl? The driver's map shows 45 minutes of estimated time to the destination, whereas you know the next left in 50 metres will truncate the 45 minutes of ETA to 10 minutes and you will be able to save your face for the interview! But the driver defenestrates the suggestion of taking the shortcut as the app's map shows he has to go straight. At the end of the trip, you cannot help but think why isn't there a more hyperlocal map, a true to the soil map, which can help drivers to finish their trip early! Or maybe get your food delivered quickly?

This is where enters Nextbillionai, a Singapore-headquartered artificial intelligence (AI) powered startup, which is aiming to help enterprises target their next billion users in emerging markets with the help of a mapping solution.

In an e-mail interaction with Entrepreneur India, Ajay Bulusu, co-founder of Nextbillion.ai, talks about the inception of the startup and how it is solving hyperlocal nuances in an emerging market.


Founded in 2020, Nextbillionai's founders Bulusu, Gaurav Bubna and Shaolin Zheng worked for Grab, Southeast Asia's ride-hailing giant.

During their stint there, all three were part of the map team and soon realized there is a need for a tailor-made AI-based mapping solution which will help the business predominantly in logistics, e-commerce, and bike/cab aggregators target the emerging market.

The startup's solution is helping enterprises boost their efficiency and provide better customer experience. The firm claims that its tailor-made solution for enterprises is cheaper and provides a better understanding of tier-II and tier-III cities which the popular mapping providers have failed to tap.

Shaolin Zheng, Co-founder, Nextbillionai

"Our mission is to be the world's most hyperlocal AI company. The challenges in areas like mapping, NLP, content moderation and facial-recognition multiply manifold in emerging markets because of varied hyperlocal nuances, language and geospatial infrastructure challenges," Bulusu added.

Leveraging AI

According to Bulusu, the population in south Asian, Middle East and north African countries are young, well informed and tech-savvy, thus proving to be the next big market for technology-related solutions.

However, with a quick glance, one can understand that these emerging markets are far more complex, with different languages, cultures, hyperlocal nuances and densely populated.

Nextbillion.ai, with its state of the art technology, is helping the enterprises relying on geospatial technology to expand their market by providing a custom made mapping solutions. Bulusu pointed out that the existing mapping solutions cripple as they face locational and language challenges in tier-II and tier-III cities.

However, Nextbillion.ai considers these areas to create heavy demand for the logistics and ecommerce sector. The startup with its hyperlocal AI solutions breaks language barriers and addresses locational challenges thus helping businesses to expand their reach.

"With exact drop locations and convenient routes clearly mapped, error margins can be reduced by 70 per cent whereas, enquiry calls on finding the whereabouts of an address be brought down by 40 per cent," he added.

What are the solutions?

Founded in 2020, the startup has come up with Nextbillionmaps—an AI-powered mapping solution—that provides enterprises with customizable features like routing, navigation, direction and distance matrix. The one of a kind mapping solution comes with highly specialized AI tooling capabilities that support map data curation and maintenance. The mapping solution combines open data, private operational data and client proprietary data, to help companies sitting on geospatial technology to increase their demand.

Nextbillionmaps offers customers to build AI-enabled custom routing and geocoding engines that power distance, time, and route estimation APIs for two-wheelers, four-wheelers and trucks. It also provides the last mile route optimization for mobility and logistics companies, map tools and map data editing for more accurate maps.

Nextbilliontasks, which is under development, uses AI to seamlessly decode data to simplify multilingual texts, image classification and segmentation, sentiment analysis and video annotations. Nextbilliontasks is a data-intensive service, where raw datasets are converted into meaningful, structured data that can be used by the end-user.

COVID19 and Future Plans

During the stringent lockdowns, the e-commerce and logistics sector has made sure that essential items are delivered. However, he pointed out that still, today, delivery executives continue to rely on passerby's word for an address. He believes that the pandemic has exposed the fractured state of logistics and last-mile connectivity in India which primarily is human-driven.

Although he believes that the pandemic has made logistics companies realize the need for an end-to-end tech-enabled ecosystem.

He considers hyperlocal solutions powered by AI is the best way to enable route optimization, make tracking transparent and aid in real-time updates and scheduling.

Asking about plans, Bulusu said, "Mapping is our first use case, but as we progress in our journey, we want to get into more verticals with an AI-first approach. Natural language processing, facial recognition and cybersecurity will be some of these areas."

The company in June raised $7 million in Series A round co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Falcon Edge Capital. The startup will utilize the fresh capital to invest in product acceleration, research and development and also plans to hire more talent.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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