Q&A with BVI Networks co-founder and CEO Alexei Agratchev on bridging the data gap between ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores
BVI Networks offers its RetailNEXT product, which utilizes in-store technology advances to enable a level of data collection and analysis previously only available online. The San Jose–based company was founded in 2007 and has raised $14 million in two rounds of fundraising.
SUB: Please briefly describe what BVI Networks is, and the value proposition you bring to retailers.
Agratchev: BVI Networks is the leader in the emerging Real-Time In-Store Monitoring space. Its RetailNEXT product is designed and purpose-built as a highly scalable platform that enables retailers and manufacturers to collect, analyze and visualize data about in-store customer engagement. RetailNEXT is an open system that takes advantage of rapidly improving sensor technologies (e.g. cameras and RFID) to bridge the enormous data gap between on-line retail and brick-and-mortar stores. Traditional retailers can now apply a similar data-driven approach used on the Internet to ensure they provide the best possible shopping experience and stay ahead of constantly evolving customer needs. For the first time, retailers that run stores and manufacturers that sell through those stores can get real-time visibility into how their customers shop. RetailNEXT is transforming the way information inside retail stores is collected and applied.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Agratchev: There are no other applications that provide a comprehensive in-store monitoring platform, like BVI Networks does. However, there is competition at some levels with traffic counting solutions and various other point solution providers.
SUB: What differentiates BVI Networks from your competitors (or from those who have similar offerings)?
Agratchev: Many of the technologies offered by other providers in our space are narrowly focused and quickly becoming commoditized. However, the real value of data comes with critical thinking and application–that’s where BVI Networks stands out as the ideal solution for gathering in-store performance data, analyzing findings and visualizing key insights that make immediate improvements to retail performance.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the company?
Agratchev: Over the past ten years, online stores have made significant advancements using enhanced data analytics to understand how shoppers interact with web stores, allowing online retailers to radically improve the shopping experience and increase sales. However, physical stores that generate 95 percent of all retail sales have had terribly inadequate intelligence tools when compared to ecommerce. We set out to change that by taking advantage of recent developments in in-store sensor technology and creating an open platform that integrates key information from the entire store, analyzes store performance, and visualizes key insights. This process enables retailers to reduce cost and significantly increase sales.
SUB: When was BVI Networks founded, and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Agratchev: BVI Networks was started in 2007. It has been acquiring and integrating advanced technologies since the very beginning—delivering proven technology within the solution from day one, and making continuous additions and improvements since then.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
Agratchev: Yes, BVI Networks raised $6 million in Series A financing from a group of private investors. In Series B, it raised $8 million, which was led by August Capital with participation from initial investors.
SUB: What have the biggest challenges been so far to building BVI Networks?
Agratchev: BVI Networks’ client portfolio is comprised of many of the most successful retailers and brands. By nature, these companies tend to be larger organizations with proven methods of operations and retail management, and it can be difficult to lead technological advancement within large organizations. As such, BVI Networks has focused considerable resources and energy in partnerships and tools that help retailers quickly incorporate new technology into the everyday management of their business.
SUB: Where do you see the company in about a year from now?
Agratchev: BVI Networks is continuously building new features that make retail operations and execution easier and more profitable by adding tools and advancing our technology. In addition, we constantly monitor the market for new and improved technologies to be integrated within our platform. BVI Networks will also continue to expand its portfolio of leading retailers and brands utilizing RetailNEXT, partnering closely with them to optimize operation and strategic execution, and develop previously unavailable shopper insights.
BVI Networks – www.bvinetworks.com