Cloud IQ makes ecommerce sites work better without requiring any integration or changes to a site. Its platform interprets data and behaviour to provide individual experiences resulting in consumers becoming loyal customers. Global brands, Samsung, EE and TUI are taking advantage of Cloud IQ’s fully automated artificial intelligence (AI) platform enabling them to complete more customer journeys, driving up revenues and increasing marketing ROI. We spoke to their CEO and Co-Founder, James Critchley, to learn more.
Let’s start by describing in your words what your company is and what it does?
We are a bunch of marketing analysts, AI scientists and geeks who have built software which increases online retailers’ sales by 10% (on average).
What do you think makes it distinct to any other companies – what’s its USP?
It’s better than alternative approaches but we would say that. The starting point is Cloud IQ predicts if a consumer is going to buy or abandon, in real time. Once you know this you can help the consumer. It’s this approach which led us to PayPal, first as a partner and then as an investor.
What is your personal background?
I have built successful start-ups, had a period of time at a major ad firm and been through the dot com and 2007 crashes.
I love that digital marketing is accountable and fully believe that digital marketing tools will do all the manual heavy lifting within a year or two. It’s just maths, albeit you have to have a Masters from UCL to make any sense of it.
What inspired you to start the company?
Firstly, if you want to solve a problem you are really into, you kind of have to do that on your own terms.
Secondly, it’s one of the most exciting times to be in digital. When I did my brief (very brief) spell at WPP, of the 300 people on the team I was part of the team that made ads for TV, Radio and Press – I was one of 2 who did digital and we really were just a sideshow. Fast forward 15 years and digital is the show; now with the data, real time manipulation tools, the computational power and access to tensor flow – digital has a fascinating future. The question is – do you believe AI will make Digital Marketers redundant or more powerful? I am in the later camp (most the time).
What is the story of the company from launch until now? How big is the company now?
Cloud IQ was founded in 2012 with an ambition to use artificial intelligence to drive up conversion rates. Since then, I am proud to say we have doubled our revenue every year, investing in the growth of our team along the way. We added 40 people to the team this year, next year we will see similar growth in the team
In March this year we announced Series A funding of £4 million from Nauta Capital, Finance Wales and Juno Capital, establishing ourselves as one of the best-funded commerce optimisation platforms, and accelerating our roadmap development. Then in July we secured an additional £4 million from lead investor PayPal, as well as existing investors – taking the total investment to date to £10m.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your company?
We were too early to the market with a new model and concept. To a certain degree we had to wait to see others try and fail to validate our approach – which we have certainly done.
What’s your biggest milestone/ which are you most proud of?
Raising the series A investment is a big validation of our vision, especially from PayPal; but to be honest I still get the biggest kicks from seeing the results we get for merchants and working with the product team to improve what we do. ROI for our merchants is the most important KPI. Simply it’s the reason for making the effort in the first place.
What is your business model? How have you monetised your product?
SaaS, monthly fee. We are completely transparent about our pricing – it is a fixed monthly fee, this allows us to focus solely on the customer, and all our efforts go into continually improving the results our customers generate. We also offer a full-service option.
What’s the next step for growth – is the intention to grow the business independently, or look for an exit via acquisition or similar?
Our strategy is to build the best product in class, everything cascades down from there. You attract the best talent, customers and partners which in turn drives a performance based culture. No one thinks ‘I want to work for/with the second best’.
We have added 40 new people to the team this year and will double the size of the team again next year, mostly in R&D.
Will you be looking for more funding?
We are fully funded to execute our plan. Expect to see lots of exciting news from us in the first half of next year!