Predicting the future
The South African company BrandsEye is a pioneer in opinion mining. This company analyses social media users’ conversations to accurately predict the future.
and with them customers got the ability to talk to brands and each other about their experiences. At Quirk we wanted our clients to be able to take part in this conversation and so we built a tool to find and interpret it. That tool became BrandsEye.
What motivated you to turn it into a business?
Quirk was actually never intended to be a digital agency, but a software business. Our timing was off though – back in the early 2000s websites were the only successful internet product. When we created the tool that became BrandsEye, we saw a chance to build a great software business and realise that vision. And as an engineer, I was really intrigued by the technical challenges of understanding the wealth of online conversation.
When did you officially start operating and how did you make your first sale?
I wrote the first version of the software in 2006 but we only started operating in 2007. BrandsEye operated out of Quirk’s offices for the first few years, and officially became its own company in 2011.
Our first sale was to one of Quirk’s clients. It was a very niche product initially until the rise of social media. I think we started out with some great clients who were prepared to experiment with us!
FIRST IT DRILLS
BrandsEye continuously seeks, gathers and stores mentions based on predefined criteria across online, social, print and broadcast media.
ALGORITHMS THEN SIFT AND SELECT Sophisticated machine-learning algorithms evaluate each mention to ensure relevance and the discovery of useful metadata.
THE CROWD VERIFIES SENTIMENT AND TOPICS
A statistically random selection of opinions enables a 99% confidence level with a 1.75% error margin. This is fed to the group’s crowdsourcing platform, the Crowd. The Crowd will accurately verify and rate both the sentiments contained in the opinions and the topics driving that sentiment.
FINALLY, THE COMPANY VISUALISES THE DATA
Data is “brought to life” in a customisable interface with a wide range of analysis tools.
How did you get funding to get started?
BrandsEye’s incubation inside of Quirk for the first few years meant it was in a fantastic environment to allow the real innovation to occur. Most of the time, the really good ideas only emerge after you’ve been working in the space for a while, and external funding creates pressure which can