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Startup Spotlight: Twiggle

Introducing the Israeli startup trying to revolutionize e-commerce search

1Jun

You’re searching for a laptop online, and you need one that can handle video games, has a high resolution and a DVD drive. These three relatively simple criteria can be found, but often at the expense of other factors being considered by search engines, like price, aesthetic, battery life, etc. This is where Tel Aviv-based startup Twiggle is looking to help, with its more sophisticated take on the e-commerce search system.

Twiggle’s technology aims to take the advancements in search made by the likes of Amazon one step further and create a truly smart system that cuts the swathes of excess from e-commerce search results. Twiggle’s system itself is complex, but essentially it combines artificial intelligence with natural language processing and data science, creating a search that is not only more sophisticated but more flexible in the way it processes requests.

Users will be able to search more conversationally, allowing Twiggle to find specific results, removing some of the guesswork. Where Amazon customers, for example, will filter their results using certain - and, often, limited - criteria, Twiggle hopes to open up the process to greater detail using a more flexible system. TechCrunch use the good example of a potential customer searching for a fridge freezer - ‘instead of typing ‘double door white refrigerator’ and then filtering results, they can write ‘I want a two-door fridge that doesn’t make too much noise which is also white, which is new, has great reviews, and is a good value for the money.’ In this particular example, Twiggle will unpick the criteria and cross reference it, so, it will look at particular refrigerator motors that make little noise within the specifications of potential results, then pull them up accordingly.

Importantly, Twiggle claim that their results will be amalgamated from the entire web (or at least elements of them will be) rather than just the e-commerce site being used. Co-founder and CEO of Twiggle, Dr Amir Konigsberg, said: 'Search is an incredibly complicated medium and this complexity has led to a situation of incremental growth and sub-standard optimization. Twiggle is infusing search with an entirely new approach that will allow digital commerce giants to redefine the shopper’s experience, increasing revenues and enabling digital commerce to reach its full potential.’ Essentially, Twiggle aims to present information to the user in an easy, digestible format, as opposed to the lists presented by the likes of Amazon that are all too often populated with irrelevant items, through which users have to sieve. The system clearly presents the criteria you searched for on the results page, so no more clicking on each individual item to check its specifications.

In its first round of funding, Twiggle raised $12.5 million, with backers including Yahoo Japan, State of Mind Ventures and Sir Ronald Cohen, according to TechCrunch. The source of its initial exposure was the interest of Naspers, who put the funding into action and are a principle investor. Naspers Ventures CEO Larry Illg said, ‘Twiggle is setting a new industry standard for e-commerce search and discovery, redefining the sector with a search platform that will bring unparalleled precision and accuracy. This investment is yet another example of our commitment to utilizing our broad network to help identify and support the most exciting digital startups.’

One of many promising startups coming out of Tel Aviv, Twiggle will use the funding for both research and development and aggressive expansion. The startup recently got Alibaba on side as an investor, further adding to their list of high-profile proponents. China’s biggest e-commerce giant is under threat from JD.com domestically, and has reportedly invested in the region of $5.3 million in seed funding as part of its push to consolidate its superiority. Alibaba, of course, stand to directly gain from an improvement to e-commerce search and, if one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies is to employ the technology, expect to be hearing a lot more about Twiggle in the years to come. 

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