By Staff Writer

Thanks to recent improvements in internet connectivity and the emergence of numerous global big-hitters, South Africa has finally made a name for itself in the technological space.

But while one might expect the country’s ‘next big thing’ to be found in tech-centric cities like Stellenbosch, it’s in fact in an unassuming corner of Bloemfontein where the foundations for South Africa’s own Silicon Valley are being laid.

Founded in 2014, Bloem-based performance marketing company Xineoh is making waves internationally thanks to its unique vectorization algorithm, which has already generated in excess of $30 million in revenue for clients across the globe, attracting the interest of investors, with $2million received in backing to date in 2017.

A pioneer in the AI and machine learning space, Xineoh’s distinctive algorithm bears similarities to those used by the likes of Amazon.com and Netflix, tapping into user behaviour to predict potential purchasing behaviour and serve users bespoke information likely to incite conversion.

City Scape, Bloemfontein, South Africa
City Scape, Bloemfontein, South Africa (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

Yet unlike these tried and tested models, Xineoh’s algorithm relies on available rather than inputted information, creating associations based on the way other users have interacted with the same product or service, thus enabling it to be used across a wide variety of industries and generate uncannily accurate recommendations.

And the results speak for themselves. Xineoh’s prediction rate currently sits at about 14.5% – a massive step up from international competitors, who typically sit at between 3 and 8% – and a previous version of its algorithm has already been effectively used by one of the world’s top real estate portals to reduce its cost-per-lead by 60-80%.

“What makes our solution so special is the fact that it’s entirely scalable and easy to deploy across a wide range of sectors,” explains CEO, Vian Chinner.

“Ultimately, our aim is to help businesses move customers as efficiently as possible from first contact through to conversion, using artificial intelligence to tap into the real causative factors proven to drive purchasing behaviour.”

Streamlining the streaming experience

This theory will be put to the test with the upcoming launch of VideoLlama, a one-stop personal shopping assistant for video streaming. Set to be rolled out initially in the US, this new service taps into the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu to find users the best possible streaming deals, and uses the unique Xineoh algorithm to offer up calculated recommendations based on future, rather than past, behaviour.

Vian Chinner, CEO of Xineoh
Vian Chinner, CEO of Xineoh (Photo Credit: Xineoh’)

“The major problem with streaming services today is that they tend to offer up recommendations based on how much you will like a specific movie or show,” explains Chinner.

“And while they aren’t inherently wrong, they don’t necessarily offer up real value for viewers. With Video Llama, we’ve tapped into our algorithm to serve up realistic recommendations based on the behaviour of others, serving the types of movies or shows you’re likely to stream based on the time of day, your company and various other latent variables.”

Like a Tinder for video streaming, VideoLlama enables users to swipe left or right based on their preferences, and specify various viewing parameters – for instance, whether they’re watching with a partner or a child. The algorithm then retrieves the relevant titles, and quickly begins to further refine its offerings based on an individual’s expressed preferences.

Looking ahead

Over the coming months, Xineoh plans to tap into a series of other verticals, with a specific focus on the property sector, which Chinner believes is rife with opportunity.

“Property is a high-investment purchase, and given the economic environment, real estate portals now need to entice users within the first 10 seconds if they have any realistic hope of sustaining interest,” explains Chinner. “Using our algorithm, these sites will be better able to serve users homes based on what they’re actually looking for, tapping into known associations to produce a refined, concise offering far more likely to result in conversion.”

While its roots are in the City of Roses, Xineoh prides itself on being a global entity, and with offices in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Oregon and Vancouver, it truly is a 24 hour operation. Priding itself on its professionalism and results-orientated philosophy, Xineoh is fast creating its very own Silicon Valley in the heartland of South Africa, offering up local tech whizzes a chance to experience AI and machine learning in a hands-on fashion.

“We enjoy living in secret,” laughs Chinner, “but the reality is that there are great opportunities for international exposure and growth at Xineoh. We hold ourselves to very high standards, but maintain a very flat structure, whereby we value and consider all opinions and input, working together to innovate and create.”

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