Mobile, Startups

Hotify: A Machine Learning & Personalisation Based News App

Hotify App Screenshots

Hotify has launched its mobile app currently on Android platform

Founded in January 2015 in Bangalore, Hotify is an engine that aims at bringing recommended, relevant and timely content from across the web to its users. At present, it is serving this purpose through an Android mobile app.

It is an attempt to uplift the user experience of discovering, reading and sharing content via simple intuitive manner, against rising information clutter on Internet.

Hotify is started by Ankur Dinesh Garg, Alok Gautam, Li Jian & Abhinav Dinesh Garg. The team believes in providing real-time awareness to its users with the use of technology.

Key Features of the Product

Behind the App, is an intelligent and evolving backend, which learns what the user is reading to provides relevant content to a user based on his/her behaviour, captured across various points of interaction.

The app comes with a simple and easy to use interface. Those who want to consume more news in a short time can scroll through the headlines in the feed, which adapts itself as per the user’s behaviour and reading habits.

Also, the app comes with an option to either read directly in the original source layout or switch to a reader friendly mode, which presents the content in a cleaner form.

Users can improve the recommendations by connecting their social accounts as thereafter the relevancy of content served is said to enhance via the cognitive technology infused in the app.  

Problems Addressed

The key problem that Hotify attempts at solving is the lack of a user first content consumption platform in the market, that can differentiate between what’s relevant and what’s not for each user.

At the moment, there are essentially three types of news consumption apps which are popular. First comprises of Feedly-like feed readers where users can get endless feeds from selected publications. Then there are curators and publishers which have editorial and manual curation teams to serve content onto their app. And then there are Flipboard-like platforms where users can follow both publishers and topics for a better consumption experience.

Hotify is trying to play on a field where the user doesn’t have to make the effort of choosing which publication or topic to follow, and by eliminating manual curation it cuts down the delay between a relevant news getting out and reaching the user. With the current shift in technology towards Machine Learning & AI, a virtual news assistant is what the startup is aiming to become in future.

How is Hotify Different From its Competitors?

The market is full with news and magazine apps. In India, the app is competing with a number of other players like InShorts (formerly NewsInShorts), DailyHunt (formerly NewsHunt) and Flipboard, which acquired Zite in March 2014.

“We believe the differentiation shall come in a long run, when users start to form habit around one particular product,” says Ankur.  “It is too early to align competition in this market. In my opinion, everyone is trying to solve the problem of information clutter and the necessity of staying aware on the go, with their own perspective, approach and with their own unique proposition.”

He adds, “The end goal is to be the best information discovery app. The users can completely rely on its ability to ‘not miss’ anything they would have loved to or needed to know/read”.

Employment of Machine Learning in Hotify

Ankur explains, “Machine Learning is the core of Hotify. All our theories, algorithms translate into Machine Learning based algorithms to deliver personalised content to our users. Right from a simple probability model of what users would love to read in general, to a complicated graph based deduction of what the users would like to read next or now, is all driven using Machine Learning as a tool. It is very similar to a giving a dedicated news assistant for every user as we evolve the product”  

Traction Details

The product is in its early stage. The company is focusing on evolving the product to increase engagement from its early adopters. As the product will make sense to a wide range of target groups, the company is testing ways to go after viral word of mouth marketing.

Monetisation Model

Presently the team is focusing on the product. However, since the whole world is moving towards native content as future of content monetisation, Hotify may adopt the same.

On Fund Raising

“Currently since we are at an early stage, we consider this as an opportunity for investors to become a part of our growth journey in technology innovation. We are considering offers at angel level, only to arrive at like-minded investors who believe in what we are doing.

Also, recommendation, AI, ML all are research oriented fields with researchers across the globe are trying to crack the code. Hence to lead differentiation in this domain, right size of R&D budgets need to be deployed, which is where we shall look for believing investors who can fund the product innovation”, maintains Ankur.

The company is looking to raise funds, which will be deployed to improve backend, growth hacking, and to grow the team in technology, data-science verticals.

Future Plans of Hotify and the Scope in this Sector

Hotify’s future plans is to focus on product development – strengthening its backend, design and increasing the sources it caters information from. The team sees an immense potential in this sector and believes that recommendation is the future search engine.

To download Hotify for Android click here

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