Find Out About The SA Startup That’s Using Public Opinion To Predict The Future

Posted on June 20th, 2017

Find Out About The SA Startup That's Using Public Opinion To Predict The Future

BrandsEye, an opinion mining company that correctly predicted two of the biggest events of 2016: the U.S elections and the Brexit vote, is quickly establishing itself as one of South Africa’s most innovative companies – to prove it, they were recently announced winners of the FNB Innovation Awards.

Headquartered in Cape Town, BrandsEye uses a social analytics approach integrated with BrandsEye Crowd, a crowdsourcing platform which assigns microtasks to trained contributors around the world to correctly allocate sentiment to social conversations.

“I think what’s special about BrandsEye is that we understand what public opinion is, on a very wide scale, we are mining social media for public views that are not available in any other forum. No one else is doing that,” says company CEO and co-founder, JP Kloppers.

This is what makes their approach so innovative, Kloppers said in an interview with African Business Review.

“Traditional methods of understanding a broad group of people are breaking down because they can neither measure the intensity nor the commitment of the emotions. Sophisticated analysis of social media, however, offers a more reliable understanding of what is happening in today’s world.”

A Good Year

The past two years have been very good for the company which was first developed in 2008 as a department within the digital marketing agency, Quirk. It was originally conceived as an online reputation management tool for bloggers and SMEs by Kloppers alongside co-founder, Craig Raw.

In 2012 the founders made a decision to run the business as a separate entity.

What really put the company on the map was their prediction of the Brexit vote and analysis of the 2016 U.S presidential election.

Brexit was one thing. We got some interest after that, but doing it again with the U.S elections put us on a global stage with the BBC, and we [started getting calls] from all over the world from people interested [in the company’s services] for a variety of reasons,” Kloppers says. They have also been interviewed by CNNReuters and Fortune.

BrandsEye were also favourites to win the 2017 FNB Innovation Awards, beating out SweepSouth, an online home cleaning management system, This Is Me, an identity management and verification tool and I-Pay, an online payment tool, among others.

“We worked hard, and have been doing so for 10 years. You know you work at a problem and you keep going – and a lot of that is fighting hard to win clients and then keep them; so having a moment to pause and have people say ‘hey guys what you’ve built is really amazing’, it’s great to have that reference point,” Kloppers says about their win.

Data As A Competitive Advantage

BrandsEye uses a “proprietary mix of search algorithms, crowd-sourcing and machine learning to mine data from online conversation”.

According to the company website, the advantage they can offer their clients is the use of data and analysis to help them to make more insightful decisions.

“The ability to rapidly understand consumer emotion and experience means that brands, governments, agencies and organisations will be able to better position their products and services to meet customers’ needs. In the post-truth world, the ability to quickly and accurately understand consumer emotion is going to become a critical element in every single organisation that cares about their stakeholder and customer experience,” Kloppers said in a 2016 interview with Endeavor, sponsors of the Innovation Awards.

Kloppers says: “We also have an auditing process which happens daily just to make sure that our accuracy levels are staying at the level that we promise our clients they would be. There are ways in which we approach that. Accuracy for us is paramount so we do it to ensure that we [keep] that promise,” says Kloppers.

Following their recent successes, BrandsEye is looking to expand. In the same interview with Endeavor, Kloppers says the next step is investing in their global sales and distribution channels.

“We’ve got about 16 verticals that we’ll roll out over the next 18 months, of which supporting the polling industry is only one.”

In the next three months they will have branches in Dubai and London  The two locations were chosen strategically, says Kloppers.

“We’ve had market traction in both those places so [for example], we were able to process Arabic data and the Middle East is just a really interesting part of the world where public opinion is important. And the UK has big multi-national headquarters there, so we can then use that as a springboard into the rest of Europe. And once we’re established there, [we’ll expand to] the U.S. So that’s the next major step for us,” says Kloppers.