A mobile app released this week aims to give micro-entrepreneurs a hand-up when it comes to financial interactions with customers, as well as sussing prospects out to start with.
The app, called Mila, is a blend of two companies’ technologies: One of them is Core Systems, which has leveraged its history of providing enterprise resource planning (ERP) –related applications for large companies that use SAP software to enabling mobile invoicing functionality to small startups. The other is Knowledgehives, which developed the semantic technology Mila uses for matching micro-entrepreneurs with business leads.
So far, the app is limited to users in Switzerland, who can use it to set up their microbusiness, publishing services and products directly from their iPhone or Android device. “People can find you on the web, see your profile, start chatting with you, and when they find what you provide is something they want, you make the deal and quickly create an invoice and send it off to them,” says Sebastian Kruk, head of Mila Portal.
The semantics come into play at registration, when entrepreneurs are asked about their business. “We have industry classifications with 350-something concepts that is mapped to schema.org. Each of them is not only translated into different languages but also mapped into concepts from Wordnet [in its English version] and other national Wordnets, like in German,” he says. “For each of these industry categories, you have a cloud of related concepts that describe what it is,” so that Mila can understand the company and its product better.
That feeds into its social media monitoring capability for lead generation. Currently, it supports only Twitter, but Kruk says other social outlets will be on the way. “Whenever we see there is some potential interesting lead or tweet, we try to find the companies in our database that sell that product or that are in categories that match the lead, and then send the lead to the company,” says Kruk. Mila uses natural language processing technology and Knowledgehives’ Civet service, which extracts meaning from text, to help with analyzing the tweets, fixing on their most important keywords and also user locations. Kruk, who was also CTO/CRO, co-founder and project development manager of Knowledgehives, says, “we map that to the meaning we know about the companies and try to find those that have the best relevance.”
The services uses the Twitter API, and Kruk says Mila needs to do some smart filtering, since that only reveals 1 percent of all tweets. “But if you ask it nicely, the 1 percent is all you need actually for this business,” he says.
By year’s end, the service will make it possible for entrepreneurs to more finely tune the description of their company and product, leveraging Pundit, which augments web pages with semantically structured annotations, to refine the semantics extracted from the text by Civet . “Basically with the next release they can fine-tune by selecting concepts from Wordnet, which is not limited to 300-something major categories but has 100,000-something concepts,” Kruk says.
The app currently is free but there are plans to launch premium services in the future.