(L to R) Nextbillion.ai founders Gaurav Bubna and Ajay Bulusu
(L to R) Nextbillion.ai founders Gaurav Bubna and Ajay Bulusu

Nextbillion.ai has raised $7 million in Series A funding, led by Lightspeed India Partners and Falcon Edge Capital.

The company, which builds mapping and other AI-based services for emerging markets, was founded earlier this year by Ajay Bulusu, Gaurav Bubna and Shaolin Zheng, all former employees of Southeast Asian ride hailing giant Grab.

Nextbillion.ai is looking to build AI-based hyperlocal solutions, starting with mapping as its core offering.

The company said it was currently working with over 20 customers on a pilot basis, across industries such as social media, ride-hailing, food delivery, freight and logistics. Half of those customers are based in India, while the rest are spread across the United States, Southeast Asia and China.

“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,” said Bulusu.

The latest investment will see Hemant Mohapatra, partner at Lightspeed, and Navroz Udwadia, co-founder and CEO of Falcon Edge Capital, join its board of directors.

The company said it will utilise the capital to grow its team, product and R&D in future focus areas. It has already put together a team of 15-20 people across Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Singapore, and will add more staff in regions where it is getting traction from enterprises.

“We have a lot of hyperlocal nuances. For instance, no company gives you a specific API for route optimisation of trucks, or autos, or two-wheelers. But the route a truck takes to deliver a package versus a bike might be significantly different,” added Bulusu.

While large players such as Google already exist in the mapping space, Nextbillion.ai is looking to build more tailored products for emerging markets, he said.

Moreover, the company will share the data with clients to help them customise and control the product.

“We at Lightspeed are excited by the prospect of partnering with this team as they build a range of turnkey enterprise solutions around Maps, Facial AI and NLP to address the needs of the next billion consumers both in developing and developed markets,” said Mohapatra of Lightspeed Ventures said.




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