Serial entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal calls Hong Kong home these days. That’s where his latest startup, RedLotus, is headquartered as he attempts to replicate his past successes with starting and building technology companies in Silicon Valley. Chahal is currently in the market for a $50 million maiden funding round for his AI-driven customer engagement platform and claims to be in talks with several leading Chinese internet companies.
While Chahal declined to disclose the identities of the potential investors he is in discussions with, RedLotus, founded in January this year, counts Chinese companies such ecommerce giant Alibaba, short video app TikTok owner ByteDance, and Tencent Holdings, owner of massively popular online gaming property PUBG and messenger app WeChat among its customers.
The capital will be used for R&D, global expansion with a focus on the Southeast Asian and APAC regions, and acqui-hires. There are also plans to launch in the US later next year.
The company, he said, has been granted a patent on its AI technology platform NeuralBank and has two patents pending on InfluenceGraph and RM5Studio which enable rapid pattern identification in real time. NeuralBank helps brands automate core marketing decisions using word clouds. InfluenceGraph pulls out consumer influence and sentiment across social media platforms including YouTube and Instagram and uses disparate data on customer sentiment to build a real time profile.
“Five years ago, there was no influencer network and Instagram was just built. Most of the users live in the walled gardens of social media platforms. Since the user data is valuable for brands, we want to give them the user data across these wall gardens,” Chahal said about his latest venture in a conversation with TechCircle from Hong Kong.
RedLotus, he added, uses data to help brands identify patterns, deliver better personalisation and convert more customers.
"Everything is targeted towards people to buy now. However with sectors like say, auto or food, the transaction doesn’t happen immediately; these are offline. Based on the real time customer profile we have created, we use the data points to target the right fit" he elaborated on how the platform uses real time data. "For example, if a person with modest income is researching a new car online, we target him or her with the entry range of vehicles, followed by financing options. If it is a high income customer, it will be a luxury variant," he added
Apart from Hong Kong, the company also has offices in Taipei, Macao, Shanghai, Delhi and Mumbai. Chahal said it is in talks with a telco customer for its launch in India. Aside of Chinese internet companies, it also counts brands such as 3M, Mastercard, Omega, Adidas, Gucci and Cathay Pacific as clients.
RedLotus is Chahal’s fifth entrepreneurial venture in and around the ad-tech space over a career that spans more than two decades.
His last successful venture was San Francisco headquartered RadiumOne, a data-driven marketing platform that he founded in 2009. The company raised $33.5 million from venture capital firms Crosslink Capital, Adam Street Partners and Trinity Ventures before lining up for an initial public offering (IPO).
The IPO plans got derailed when Chahal pleaded guilty to charges of assault and domestic violence in 2014 and was subsequently fired by RadiumOne’s board of directors. In 2017, RadiumOne, which was reportedly valued at $500 million at its peak, was acquired by San Francisco-based data driven advertising technology platform RhythmOne for $22 million.
Prior to RadiumOne, the 37-year old, Punjab-born Chahal was already a self-made millionaire having started and sold two technology companies.
He sold his first venture, ClickAgents, to Nasdaq-listed ValueClick for $22.2 million in 2000, followed by BlueLithium, which was bought by Yahoo for $300 million in 2007. Both were ventures based in Silicon Valley. After the RadiumOne episode, Chahal founded Gravity4 in London. The machine learning based marketing platform folded operations in 2017.