Who Needs a Hologram When you have an iVik? Employee-designed Robot Gives Telecommuting New Meaning

Telecommuting isn’t anything new, nor are mobile robots that allow staffers to physically navigate around their home, office or school. But imagine building a fully functioning robotic system, largely from scratch, in about 2 hours. That’s exactly what Gui Pinto, an enterprising Software Engineer at Chitika accomplished, with the goal of allowing beloved Director of Business Development, office funny man, and regular Florida resident Vik Chhabra to still be a force within the office. With the help of PVC pipe, an iRobot vacuum cleaner, a laptop, webcam, speakers, and a whole lot of creativity, Gui created “iVik” – conjuring more of a realistic Vik presence at the office than any Tupac hologram could provide. It also happens to be a fun piece of entertainment for the entire Chitika office when iVik stops by to chat about the score of last night’s Celtics game or hold a virtual meeting with his team. Check out the short video below showcasing iVik in action.

Still a work in progress, suggested additions to iVik include everything from a dart gun firing capabilities to cup holders and topical costumes. Check back here for news on any modifications, and let us know in the comments if there’s something you would add to iVik!  

Spreading the Word About Food for Education [Chitika Community Challenge]

No child shall be deprived of education because of hunger.

Imagine feeding 35 Fenway Parks full of hungry people, every day… Impossible? Not for The Akshaya Patra Foundation

On May 12 Akshaya Patra USA’s Boston Chapter held their annual Food for Education Benefit Gala at the Taj Hotel, an event Chitika was proud to sponsor. The benefit brought together  individuals who are passionate about eradicating hunger and promoting education in India, the cornerstones of the Akshaya Patra Foundation.

Food For Education started with a story of compassion and the belief that no child in India should be deprived of education because of hunger. As the Foundation says, “Hungry children can’t learn. But plentiful nutrition in schools can convert a desperate child into an educated adult – one who can then turn around and help pull their community out of poverty.”

With the launch of Food for Education in 2000, Akshaya Patra has been successful in combining good management, innovative technology and smart engineering to deliver school lunch at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in other parts of the world.

Thanks to the vision of The Akshaya Patra Founders, the passion of the people executing the program on the ground and active supporters who believe in the program and work to empower others to join in, Food For Education currently distributes freshly cooked, healthy meals daily to 1.3 million underprivileged children in 8,000 government schools.

Chitika CEO, Venkat Kolluri, recently met with Dr. Desh Deshpande, Chairman of The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s US Chapter,  to talk about the program. At the end of the meeting Desh challenged him and everyone else in attendance to go home and share the story of the Food for Education program with three friends.  Approaching this challenge using the Foundation’s model of scalablity, Venkat decided rather than tell three friends– why not tell 300? With the help of Team Chitika, we created “empower” gift bags for all Gala attendees, each containing three Patra’s (never ending bowls), filled with information on the Foundation and their mission, to distribute outside of the event, empowering others to take action.


From left: Dr. Desh Deshpande (Chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, USA), Venkat Kolluri (CEO, Chitika Inc.), and Food for Education supporters at the Benefit Gala


Now we are challenging the Chitika Community. Take a moment to learn about Food for Education by watching this video and then, share it with three friends or (300 friends) in your social networks.  Let’s work together to help eradicate hunger and promote education in India.

Optimizing Your Online Advertising Revenue Streams [Free Tool]

The following post is a special contribution from Jay McQuillian, Director of Chitika’s Data Solutions Engineering Department: 

As the head of the Data Solutions Engineering department here at Chitika, I work with my team every day to find interesting trends and stories about the world of online advertising by analyzing data found in our extensive ad network. Chitika Insights, the research arm of Chitika, produces a series of reports each week covering trends on the Internet and also creates special reports and tools for advertisers and marketers to plan and optimize their campaigns for the best possible ROI. One of the most exciting and pertinent tools we have produced is the Chitika Ad Monetization Matrix or CAMM. The Boston Consulting Group Matrix and the Gartner Magic Quadrant have long been fundamental tools in conducting business analysis for a wide variety of industries. These tools are invaluable in helping businesses direct resources toward the segments with the highest worth or potential to optimize their revenue stream.

In an effort to contribute a similar tool to the world of online advertising, my team here at Chitika Insights created the CAMM, which measures the three key aspects of online advertising markets: volume, click-through-rate (CTR), and the value per click to an advertiser (CPC). In our quadrant, each category (like Health Care, Real Estate or Transportation) is represented in a circle that is proportional in size to its market share or volume. On the horizontal axis, we plotted the CTR, which directly corresponds to the likelihood of an ad being clicked by a user. Finally, on the vertical axis, we plotted CPC, which refers to how much an advertiser is willing to pay a publisher when an ad is clicked. The quadrant can be broken down into four distinct market segments, as seen below:


Some interesting insights:

  • Insurance can be found within the Special Interest segment, as it captures the highest CPC across all quadrants, but has a relatively low CTR
  • Banks reside in the Click Kings segment, with exceptional performance in both CTR and CPC
  • Transportation captures the highest CTR  but with the second-lowest CPC, it ends up categorized in the Economic Essentials segment
  • Media has the lowest CTR and CPC across all units, and takes its place in the Obscure & Unpopular segment


 Why is this matrix important? By understanding the implications of each of these market segments and incorporating them into dynamic campaigns and SEO strategies, advertisers can effectively increase the potential for site monetization. One of the biggest aspects of control for publishers and advertisers is the volume of their particular markets. Using a tool like this can help you discover where your ads have too much or too little volume, and adjust the volume within categories by looking at revenue produced.  

Ads with high CPC but low CTR (Special Interest) are really meant for a narrow audience – meaning, that to maximize their monetization, they should only be shown in cases in which the audiences intent is clear (e.g., showing ads for baseball gear on an sports blog). Alternatively, ads with a higher CTR are generally applicable to a wider audience, and therefore do not require such targeted scenarios to be profitable.

Interested in more reports like this from Chitika Insights? Head over to our blog for the latest studies covering trends on the Internet as seen on our network. You can always reach us by emailing press@chitika.com with any questions you may have!  

Thursday “Open Mic” Guest Speaker Series: Ben Waber – CEO, Sociometric Solutions

“I don’t care what the current processes are. Never stop looking for ways to do things better.” – Venkat Kolluri – CEO, Chitika Inc.

As a product of our CEO’s philosophy, we have a weekly tradition here at Chitika to invite a business or industry thought leader join us for family lunch on Thursday afternoons to talk about their work, research or business, and hold an informal discussion with us Chitikans. In the past, we’ve welcomed technologists, charity-focused entrepreneurs, and this week, we brought in MIT Media Lab alum and Harvard Senior Researcher Ben Waber. Largely stemming from his work at these area academic powerhouses, Ben is also the CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a management consulting company that is turning the industry on its head. As Ben explained, the heart of his companies work is based around the sociometric badge – a technology he and the Sociometric Solutions team helped develop at the Media Lab during the late 2000’s. This device, the size of a small digital camera, is worn by an organization’s employees to physically measure organizational dynamics. Namely:

  • Who a person is talking to (but not what they are talking about)
  • How that person is talking (involved, disengaged, interrupting, thought provoking etc.)
  • Generally where you are in the workplace
These features are all thanks to the badges’ integration of an infrared transmitter, BlueTooth, motion sensors and a microphone. The company’s philosophy of an ‘opt-in’ model still leads to participation rates of close to 90%, and anonymity and privacy are held in the highest regard, including the inability for the badges to physically record conversations and personal statistics never being shared with superiors.

The results they’ve seen from applying the lessons from their insights are truly astounding:

  • A 25% increase in call processing rate at a Bank of an America call center simply by overlapping employee breaks rather than staggering them. This strategy is in the process of being rolled out by BofA to all of its nationwide call centers.
  • Increasing sales revenue by 30% thanks to raising the level of face-to-face interaction between different departments at a large German bank.

Chitika employees had a variety of questions ranging from possible additional features, to past experiences, to specifics on the software, and the ensuing discussion lasted well through the end of the lunch hour. Cutting edge technology like this always strikes a nerve with the company, and we were so glad to have Ben showcase the amazing work he and his team is undertaking for our whole Westborough office. Stay tuned next week for another recap, and drop us a line at press@chitika.com if you’d want to have lunch and share your experience with us!  

Passion: A Common Theme at Elite Retreat 9, San Francisco

Last week, I attended Elite Retreat 9 in San Francsico. The event was put on by Shoemoney Media Inc, and took place at the Clift Hotel. Jeremy Schoemaker, founder of Shoemoney Media, likes to describe the event as the conference you always wished you could go to but never seemed to find, and I couldn’t agree more! Some of the top tech minds in the country came together to learn from one another, make meaningful connections, and of course have some fun. I was lucky enough to have a chance to attend, and learned from some of the industries leading minds.

Chitika Data Solutions Engineers Talk Mobile Monday Boston

Here at Chitika we love to get out of the office, network and most importantly learn something new! Attending special events, speaking panels and enrichment programs are passion points for everyone in the Chitika family.  We are fortunate enough to be located in a region that is one of the epicenters for tech and innovation.  This provides us with ample opportunity to constantly mix, mingle and share ideas with some of the industry’s top talent.

On April 23rd, a group of Chitika Data Solution Engineers attended Mobile Monday Boston, one of Boston’s biggest monthly technology networking events. This particular session dubbed “Mobile Pitch Challenge” allowed some of Boston’s newest early stage mobile startups to pitch a panel of mobile investors, including; Antonio Rodriguez of Matrix Partners, Jeff Glass of Bain Capital Ventures and Jennifer Lum of Apricot Capital.

In the words of our Data Solutions Engineers, here is how the evening turned out: In front of an audience of over 200 industry professionals, a group of startups made their pitch. Participating companies included Thumbs Up, PerscribableApps, cognet mobile, 29GO, RepeatReceipt, Spectacle and Codex Development. PerscribableApps came out on top, winning the most votes of the evening. Their mission is to improve care for those living with a chronic illness by providing their users with collaborative resources to understand their own condition -not just their diagnosis- with the help of their Doctor.

*Image courtesy of PerscribableApps

PerscribableApps was the most popular pitch among our group as well, given their intent to utilize big data to create a smooth and regular flow of information and feedback between mental health patients and care providers, standing to make a huge impact not only on the market but to the quality of services offered to patients today. We especially liked PerscribableApps because they want to change the world, not just an industry – just like us. Hope to see you at the next event!

Play Hard, Work Smart: Chitika Featured in the Boston Globe

Chitika was recently featured in the Boston Globe as one of several companies in Massachusetts taking steps to incorporate a focus on fitness and health in everyday activities. At Chitika, we like to follow the guidelines of “play hard, work smart.” Along with the other companies featured in the article written by Kathleen Pierce, the health of our employees is on the forefront of our minds. However, we don’t stop there. Not only is staying active throughout the day good for your body, it’s good for your mind as well. What’s more, it shows in the quality of your work.

Chitika CEO Venkat Kolluri Talks Data Analaytics and Business Insights with UT Dallas MBA Students

Chitika’s CEO, Venkat Kolluri, returned to UT Dallas today as special guest speaker for the school’s nationally ranked MBA program. His talk will cover Data Analytics vs. Business Insights. This is Venkat’s second visit to UT Dallas in the last several months. In November, he was a featured panelist at the Management Information Systems Conference held at the Naveen Jindal School of Management, where he engaged with other industry leaders on how to better prepare college students for employment in the dynamic tech industry.

Chitika CEO Venkat Kolluri to Share Tips on “Getting Stuff for Free” at Boston Entrepreneurs Event

Chitika CEO Venkat Kolluri has been asked by the IEEE Boston Entrepreneur’s network to share his wisdom with fellow entrepreneurs on how to successfully launch a business. The event, entitled “How To Get Stuff For Free,” will take place from 6:30- 9 PM on April 18, 2012 at the NERD center in Cambridge, MA.