Today I talk with Pedro Almeida, Founder & CEO of MindProber, a company providing content producers tools to understand the impact that their material has on viewers, using physiological and behavioural measures. We talked about his work, the company, the future, and the Portuguese startup landscape.
In a nutshell, how did the idea for MindProber come about?
The first version of MP was to be a consumer neuroscience company. I have a mixed background in Neuroscience and Market Research and a few years brought together a team to tap an unexplored market in Portugal and Spain at the time. Back then we realized the limitations of the field – lack of speed, scale and agility (and sometimes credibility) – and we thought we could bring something really new to the field by mixing the concepts of lab and panel studies, and to build a really powerful media testing tool.
How would you describe what the company does?
We power content producers (advertising, entertainment) to understand the impact that their material produces on viewers using physiological and behavioural measures. We do this by having hundreds of viewers equipped with our sensors and apps, and recording their reactions to whichever media content they are being exposed.
So, we can tell you how activating your content is, on a second by second basis, and how it compares to competition. We can also do this in real time, if that’s a need (for instance if you’re monitoring a live entertainment show, news or a political debate).
We build our ad testing, tracking and video testing tools around these capabilities.
How can you help companies grow?
We can help companies to produce content that produces a real impact on clients.
When content producers create video material, they are aware that it needs to be really emotionally engaging or it will be lost in the middle of the noise. They start with an explicit or implicit expectation on how the emotional arch of the video should be built and how it will impact the audience. We give them the tools to test these assumptions in really fast, robust and comprehensive way. In short, we help companies understand how their video material will impact or is impacting viewers (depending on whether you’re running a pre-test or a live test) and how that may be translated into brand awareness, sales, ratings, or whichever KPI’s they track.
Where do you see MindProber in a couple of years?
We honestly believe MindProber panels can be pervasive in targets with significant spend in advertising and entertainment. We will be releasing panels in a handful of international markets, and expect to be able to convince broadcasters and brands of the added value of truly comprehending the impact that video material produces, and the power and agility that our platform gives them in assessing that. We think that having the sort of monitoring we provide will be a no-brainer for broadcasters and hope to be able to create currency metrics for video impact.
What do you wish you’d have known when you first started?
We’re starting and learning as we go, and things are working quite well. Knowing how the customers would react to your first demo products would save us some iterations, but this is something you can’t pass without.
What’s your take on the Portuguese startup scene today?
I’ve been following the scene in the background for some years now, and have seen an impressive evolution. I think we’re seeing the beginning of that which may be an interesting ecosystem in some years. We’re starting to see seed rounds with decent “European sized” valuations (we’ve just recently closed one), from sophisticated investors who understand the risks and specificities of investing in startups, and the role of investment in startup’s life cycles. Also, we’re able to find support for all aspects of running a startup, that was unthinkable a few years ago (again, returning to our experience, the supporting context of Startup Braga was absolutely essential for us).
As entrepreneurs we are lucky to have outstanding technical human resources coming from the universities and need to live up to the challenge of managing this talent to deliver world-class products.
On another aspect, the amount of incubators, newfound startups, funds and investment vehicles nowadays shows that there is sort of a startup frenzy that, as it wears off, will result in an ecosystem where those who are truly prepared and have the right mindset will prosper. This “excess à pruning” process seems to be a necessary step in the development of a strong ecosystem. That said, there is still a lot of work to be done, in terms of educating founders and investors, reducing some of the noise around entrepreneurship, the promotion of less risk-averse and focused mindsets and in putting in place mechanisms to allow investors to follow on their investments and enter decent sized post-seed rounds.
I think we’re on the way.
Find out more about MindProber at http://mindproberlabs.com/