Tech Pitch: Signal

The brand monitoring and market intelligence start-up says media services companies need to "move with the times"...

Company name: Signal
Founders: David Benigson (27), Wesley Hall (34), and Dr Miguel Martinez (29)
Background: Benigson – CEO, advisor for the Jamie Oliver Foundation, A Little Bird and The Creative Director. Hall – CTO, has held senior roles in web businesses including eBay, Gumtree and Fab.com, Martinez – head of research, has a PhD from Queen Mary University.
Based in: Shoreditch, London

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Signal enables consumers and businesses to discover, monitor and analyse online content, pulling in three and a half million articles every day.
  • Users can effortlessly build highly precise, hyper-relevant feeds of information on any subject, getting live business-critical information on their markets, key competitors and much more.
  • It provides clean and clear data visualisations that give users a snapshot of all the most relevant stories, events, influencers and trends.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Most of the big incumbent media monitoring services were set up in the 1990’s, and have failed to move with the times. They’re far from user-friendly: they have complicated interfaces, confusing pricing systems, a baffling array of different settings, and they do not present information cleanly and clearly. As a result, it takes time to learn how to use these tools effectively, which is why they are often only used by a small number of specialists within a company. Meanwhile, at the other end, you’ve got new, free services aimed directly at consumers, which are easier to navigate but not nearly powerful enough for most businesses.

Signal is designed to be used to be used by anyone and everyone within an enterprise, from the CEO down to the most junior member of staff. We combine the usability of consumer-focused monitoring tools with the rich functionality of more established business services. Media monitoring and market intelligence firms also tend to offer opaque pricing models, meaning users can end up paying a lot more for services than they first think. Signal is different. We use predictive analytics to provide actionable, real-time intelligence, drawn from news, social media and other unstructured data, helping clients make better business decisions. It’s beautiful and it’s easy to use.

Are you funded?

Yes – in September 2014, Signal raised a £1.2m seed round from some of the world’s leading technology investors: Frontline Ventures, Reed Elsevier Ventures and Samos Investments.

What were you doing before starting?

Benigson: After studying law and getting a taste for the corporate world, I quickly realised that I wanted to work in dynamic entrepreneurial environments. Before Signal, I was working as an advisor for a variety of organisations, from Jamie Oliver’s charity to websites supporting creative industries. An important part of my work was staying up to date with all the news and developments that affected me, my employers and our stakeholders.

Dissatisfied with both free online media monitoring tools and with expensive professional alternatives, I founded Signal to provide a single tool that filled a gap in the market, and that would help businesses make sense of their market and to make better decisions.

What’s the best thing about where you’re based?

Our HQ is at Second Home, near Brick Lane, which is an amazing community of start-ups, creative businesses, makers and investors. I think the dynamic and contrasting mix of companies is what makes the space so special, and reflects the vision that Rohan Silva (Second Home’s founder) had for small tech businesses during his tenure in government.

We have some fantastic neighbours in the building: WP Engine now host our website, White Star Capital and Christian Hernandez are always on hand to give us advice, and General Assembly have fed us with a number of really interesting potential hires.

It’s an incredible place to work – the ethos is very much on collaboration and collective growth, which is manna from heaven for start-ups. Each company hub is bespoke, but there are all sorts of programmes designed to bring people together, such as film nights, yoga and free elevenses. All this helps boost productivity and engagement, so there’s nowhere else we’d rather be!

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