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Predictive analytics startup today announced it has raised $35 million in a series B round led by GGV Capital. Cofounder and CEO Zohar Bronfman says that the funds will allow Pecan to expand its operations globally and help organizations adopt AI and big data.

Data analytics is the science of analyzing raw data to extract meaningful insights. Market Research Future predicts the global data analytics market will be valued at over $132 billion by 2026. A range of organizations can use data to boost their marketing strategies, increase their bottom line, personalize their content, and better understand their customers. Businesses that use big data grow their profits by an average of 8%, according to a survey conducted by BARC research.

Pecan, which has offices in New York and Tel Aviv, offers a no-code platform that automates data, encoding, restructuring, cleansing, and engineering to create AI-based predictive algorithms from a number of deep neural networks. After a set of recursive competitions between multiple networks, the platform leaves only one fully trained neural network — evolved and refined for accuracy.

“After fine-tuning the product and our flagship use cases, Pecan came out of stealth in February of last year,” a spokesperson told VentureBeat via email. “The pandemic affected us in a positive way. The need to predict erratic patterns of behavior, as well as the increase in digital consumption, boosted the demand for Pecan’s brand of fast and easy-to-use AI.”

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It’s an approach known as evolutionary computation, a family of algorithms for global optimization inspired by biological evolution. Instead of following explicit mathematical gradients, these models generate variants, test them, and retain the top performers.

Pecan supports data in a range of formats and offers dashboards to provide visibility into factors that might affect outcomes. The platform, which can output its predictions to third-party software, continuously monitors and optimizes models while enriching them with external data.

The idea is to let analysts and business stakeholders obtain actionable insights and see outputs in a matter of days after adding their raw data. Pecan supports use cases that include demand forecasting, conversion, lifetime value, next best offer, VIP customers, upsell and cross-sell, churn and retention, and sales analytics.

“In order to appeal to data analysts, Pecan is both end to end and use case-focused, which greatly reduces the complexity and statistical knowledge required from its users,” the spokesperson said. “Unlike some of its competitors, Pecan handles everything from data prep to monitoring data in production with a drag-and-drop UI. The data prep and feature selection/engineering components are critical. Getting data into proper form for AI models can take weeks or months of efforts on the part of data scientists and engineers, but with some help from the Pecan team, can be automated with minimal effort.”

Real-world applications

Pecan says during the pandemic Johnson & Johnson used its platform to help predict changing consumer behavior and buying patterns across different consumer product groups, as well as supply chain forecasting.

“We improved forecast accuracy in our seasonal business, and we have a deeper understanding of the variables that may influence a consumer demand signal,” Johnson & Johnson VP Bertrand Klehr said in a press release. “[By] partnering together with Pecan, we are continuing our focus on what consumers want to purchase at the right time and place.”

Bronfman added: “Pecan was designed to drive business value from AI. In one intuitive platform, analysts and business stakeholders can obtain actionable insights and see outputs in a matter of days after adding their raw data — helping companies evolve from BI to AI. We have seen tremendous uptake from organizations of all sizes and are looking forward to expanding globally and bringing real business value to our customers.”

Vintage and existing investors Dell Technologies Capital, S-Capital, and Mindset also participated in Pecan’s latest funding round. It brings the five-year-old company’s total raised to more than $50 million, following an $11 million series A in January 2020.

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