Ganglia is an AI chatbot that gets you personalised updates from live sports matches

Sainul Abudheen

With 45,000 to 70,000 daily active users, Ganglia has on-boarded over 230,000 cricket fans, and has sent 160M notifications

Ace Indian cricket player Virat Kohli

On or off the field, Virat Kohli is the current cricket sensation in India. A talented player, he is widely admired across cricket-loving countries in Asia and has more than 14 million followers on Twitter alone, of whom a considerable number are females.

These die-hard fans love to watch the 28-year-old’s batting blitzkrieg on the ground, although they don’t understand the game much. They keep gazing at various sports apps on their smartphone for live updates when a match is on, but these apps keep throwing in a deluge of information, wanted and unwanted, which is irritating.

Here is a chatbot that can save them from information overload. Ganglia, as it is named, this Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based bot gives you near real-time cricket score at personalised interval. You get personalised notifications on your Facebook Messenger when your favourite player comes to bat, hits a boundary, or scalps a wicket. You no longer need to flip through multiple apps to get personalised live updates.

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“Ganglia is the only chat bot that offers near real-time cricket score at personalised interval,” Aditya Chavan, Co-founder of Machaao Inc., parent of Ganglia, told e27. “Ganglia marks the end of an era where fans had to log onto different websites or download apps to get score updates by clicking refresh button.”

Ganglia

Ganglia

If you are a die-hard fan of a player or a team, you can follow your favourite team’s score by setting up score intervals for every ‘Over’, or after five ‘Overs’. Cricket fanatics can also follow the score ball-by-ball. These configurations are dynamic and can be changed at any stage of an ongoing match.

For instance, in the second innings of a Test Match, if wickets matter more than ‘runs’, fans can switch the score intervals from every five ‘overs’ to every wicket, and Ganglia obeys every single time.

“To follow live cricket on Messenger, you can click m.me/machaao and personalise your score intervals. You can also ask for live score, schedule, squad, or choose to follow your favourite player to get updates. The updates are available in English, Hindi and Urdu. We will add more languages as we move forward,” Aditya added. “It understands every user and serves each one with only what they want.”

The company has already partnered with Pakistan Super League, CricinGif, and Hong Kong Cricket Board for the distribution of live matches via Facebook or Messenger.

Push notifications are passé

According to a survey, said Aditya, 52 per cent of consumers find push notifications annoying. “From our research, we found out that people love push notification when it is contextual. So we established Ganglia with an aim to make push notification engaging by sending personalised notifications to keep it relevant for every user,” Aditya said.

“To test our proof of concept, we released an app for iOS and Android during the Cricket World Cup. We realised that our friends and testers were completely hooked onto it. So when Facebook opened Messenger platform in April 2016, it was nothing more than a plug-and-play for us,” he said as he narrated the story behind the inception of the app.

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According to Aditya, Ganglia is trained to serve cricket fans globally.

“The beauty of the app is that that we don’t train users to use Ganglia. We train the bot to understand the users and serve them better every time they come back.”

The content on Machaao is divided into four categories: Scores that are sourced from service providers, live match video clips which are sourced from various cricket bodies, news generated by its in-house and contracted popular cricket journalists, and trending topics which are filtered from Twitter.

As of today, Ganglia has on-boarded over 230,000 cricket fans and has sent 160 million notifications. Its daily active users range from 45,000 to 70,000 depending upon the match day, he claimed. “Our fan base majorly comes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies. We’ve recently seen some great traction building from Afghanistan, Nepal, and Singapore, too,” he added. “Our potential target audience is the 188 million cricket fans on Facebook.”

The startup intends to reach at least one million user base before monetising it. It has already outlined as many as five monetisation channels and the team is actively working on setting up the initial requirements, Aditya noted. “We intend to launch service for football by the end of 2017 and hope to start serving tennis fans by mid-2018.”

Machaao was founded in 2014 by Harshal Dhir (CEO and Founder), Aditya (Co-founder), Sunil Chiluvuri (Head of Technology), Shashank Prasad (Head of Infrastructure), and Saurabh Karade (Head of Business Development). Based out of Mumbai, the startup raised pre-seed funding from friends and family. It is now in conversation with startup funding institutions for its seed funding.

Ganglia was one of the first chatbots to be enrolled into FbStart programme in December 2016.

In Aditya’s view, the AI industry is still at a very nascent stage in terms of development and funding. However, there has been a tremendous user acceptance for dating bots, travel bots and other utility bots. “The market potential is huge in India as the market is governed by trendsetters, the audience ranging in the age group of 13-34. There are certainly great ideas for bots spawning but the funding ecosystem is yet to catch up to the pace. We should see some great bots coming up in 2017, making it the year of conversational commerce for India,” he remarked.

“The beauty of AI is you don’t train a user — the user inherits the art of conversing. We train the bot to understand user and training a computer is way more economical, viable and reliable solution than training humans,” he said.  “Businesses can finally go back to doing business the conversational way and now it is safe to say that future of AI and chat bots is great because we are finally doing it the right way,” Aditya said, signing off the conversation.

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