Startup Unbxd: Intelligent search for e-commerce websites

Unbxd, a Bangalore based startup, is all about intelligent search for e-commerce websites. Carving a niche segment for themselves Unbxd has developed customized e-commerce search app that is fast, accurate and user friendly. This e-commerce search app promises to leverage the cloud concept and has SMEs as one of the important customer base. Unbxd does not only provide intelligent and clutter free search engine interface to the e-commerce websites, it also provides customer analytics through its Unbxd IntelliLearn feature. While e-commerce is picking up really fast in India, semantic search and cloud concept adds to the growth prospects of this start-up. Pavan Vilas Sondur and Prashant Kumar, founders at Unbxd, share their story here with us.

Genesis of the startup

Pavan Sondur along with his co-founder, Prashant Kumar started Unbxd on 1 January 2011. Both Pavan and Prashant left their high paying jobs to pursue their entrepreneurial journeys with Unbxd. It took around 6 months to develop their flagship product – Unbxd Search. “After exploring various verticals we felt that Unbxd Search could change the way shoppers search on e-commerce sites”, says Pavan. Every e-commerce site needs the ‘search’ function and users, having superior search experiences with Google and Amazon or eBay, expect a very sophisticated search engine at the other e-commerce sites too. According to Prashant, “Most e-commerce sites cannot afford to re-invent the wheel and build such sophisticated search systems. This is where Unbxd Search steps in.” It creates a win-win situation – the visitors are happy to get better search results which assist them in buying decisions and the e-commerce sites are happy because the revenue increases as the increased number visitors end up buying from the site.

Initial Challenges

There were two big hurdles which Pavan and Prashant faced during the initial days. First was to understand the Indian market. It has been really difficult for the duo to sell it to the all and sundry. “Indian e-commerce market by itself is an emerging market right now and the technology used here lags behind the western world. Moreover, convincing online retailers about a better search and making them aware about such advanced technology was a challenge”, says Pavan. They had technical challenges as well. What they discovered is that the e-commerce market is cluttered with everybody having their own platform, architecture or application. “We had to change Unbxd Search and make it platform agnostic – almost a one-for-all product and now we can gladly say that we have succeeded in doing that. We have even built a cloud version,” adds Prashant.

Business and Revenue Model

Unbxd’s business model is to sell its flagship product Unbxd Search to online retailers as it empowers the e-commerce websites. It generated revenue by selling it in two formats:

1. Transactional Model: This is the pay-as-you-go model and is targeted at the smaller players. Here the e-commerce site is billed as a factor of number of products and the number of search queries hitting their search server.

2. Enterprise Product: This is targeted towards the large players who can leverage cost by buying annual or lifetime licenses of Unbxd Search and deploying it into their e-commerce websites.


Pavan maintains that as of now they do not have any real competitor in the Indian market. The closest that he could point out was Endeca and Celebros, which too have not developed a search interface which is e-commerce platform agnostic. Being platform agnostic is one of the biggest advantages that Unbxd has. “We’re one of a kind in India and are, in fact, carving out a niche search market for ourselves in India. Our technology is future ready and can be deployed on any system – from enterprise to SMEs like cloud hosted e-commerce apps”, highlights Prashant.


Pavan is quick to point out that the innovation at Unbxd is multi-front.

  1. Unbxd Search is platform agnostic
  2. The search results are faster than any other in India and has artificial intelligence built into it which performs tasks such as spelling correction, similar meaning suggestions, etc.
  3. Can scale to millions and billions of products (SKUs)

First Big Success

“Our first big success came from a US jobsite, They needed a search which could help visitors find the right job for them. Our Unbxd Search was a perfect solution with inbuilt artificial intelligence. The search was more user-friendly now for them and would correct spellings, autosuggest manager, in case you typed supervisor, etc.”, explains Prashant.

Future Plans

Unbxd has already a cloud version of the e-commerce search app and with e-commerce market picking up fast in India they could have a very bright future ahead. They are also focusing on providing the data analytics through their Unbxd IntelliLearn, which is also a smart move in creating value to their e-commerce customers. According to Pavan, “Unbxd has a grand vision of getting into the business of solving the customized search problem along with analytics of search. We want Unbxd Search to be deployed, with a single click, wherever a customized search solution is required. Coupled with analytics, it will provide a depth of visitor activity, such as what search items were searched and what kind of products are moving faster, etc. All this in the cloud would make it appealing to everybody – from SME e-commerce players to enterprise online retailers”.

About the founders:

Pavan Sondur holds a B.E. from SJCE, Mysore and has worked with NetApp in the past. He then changed gears and moved to Gluster, a startup which has developed GlusterFS, the leading open source scale-out NAS solution. The seeds of entrepreneurship were planted in Gluster where he worked for 2 years before starting out with Unbxd.

Prashant Kumar holds a B.E. from SJCE, Mysore and has worked with Tavant Technologies and Huawei Technologies in the past. At Huawei, Prashant has been credited with developing Huawei’s entire Knowledge Management system which was a huge system, which converted huge amount of unorganized data to knowledge. He worked at Huawei for 4 years before deciding to start out with Unbxd.

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Mridula VelagapudiAbout Mridula: Mridula is a freelance writer. She writes on Entrepreneurship and has worked for a start-up in the past. To know more check out her profile at LinkedIn/Mridula Velagapudi

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