Martech Startup Gains Funding from Unilever, IRI

Peter Breen
Peter Breen profile picture

MachineVantage, a nascent company building artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions, has gained funding from Unilever Ventures and research company IRI.

MachineVantage uses proprietary AI- and ML-powered algorithms to drive consumer product and marketing innovations. The company works with multinational clients in North America and in individual markets in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

Berkeley, California-based MachineVantage was founded in 2016 by A.K. Pradeep, a pioneer in the field of neuromarketing. His previous firm, NeuroFocus, was acquired by Nielsen in 2011.

"Many of the world's smartest marketers today are looking to leverage the extraordinary algorithmic power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain a competitive advantage," Pradeep said. "We're privileged to have global innovators like IRI and Unilever join us in delighting consumers everywhere."

MachineVantage's artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are developed ground-up for marketing professionals, branding and advertising agencies, and product innovators in the packaged goods, retail, financial services and automotive industries.

"Bringing the algorithmic power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to all of IRI's [client services] has the power to re-invent marketing by transforming how advertisers develop and deliver personalized audiences and then optimize those campaigns in real time based on purchase lift," said Andrew Appel, IRI's chief executive officer.

Unilever Ventures is the venture capital and private equity arm of CPG giant Unilever. The unit invests in young, promising companies, especially in the personal care and digital categories, accelerating growth by providing access to its own global ecosystem, assets, and expertise.

"We're constantly looking for 'world beaters' for our global investment portfolio," said Olivier Garel, head of ventures. "With its expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and its innovative approach to product and marketing innovation, MachineVantage fits that description well, and we look forward to helping facilitate its growth."

MachineVantage has already worked with several Unilever brands around the world, including in emerging markets.

"It is crucial to understand consumer trends and preferences and to determine how our brands can best respond to people's evolving needs," said Stan Sthanunathan, Unilever's executive vice president of consumer and market insights. "We are already using artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain insights that our product development and marketing teams can translate quickly and effectively into innovations. A year of working with MachineVantage convinced us of the unique power of their technology and the value of our investment."