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.

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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.

BRAND­SEYE

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

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