Nordic Venture Forum: M-Brain

Here’s the third startup in a run down of startups that I saw at the Nordic Venture Forum last week in the beautiful city of Copenhagen, Denmark. All the startups present at the forum were seeking either financing from the investors or partners for their business.

M-Brain (FI) – M-Brain is a value-added business intelligence firm operating in the media environment.

M-Brain focuses on media monitoring by delivering filtered, summarized and translated content from the Internet, both editorial and social media. They offer specific aggregated reports from more than 60 countries in 25 languages.

The company claims that it’s success factor is its ‘unique symbiotic combination of technology and human capital’. This stems at least partly from an in-house tech development that is funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. Also, members of the R&D team continue to work part-time in the academic EU research projects bringing a wide range of knowledge to the table. M-Brain is also involved in many other EU project which are likely to bring in again new research, and many times also added funding from EU’s budget. Along with a few private individual the company has investments from Veraventure.

M-Brain employs 56 in-house trained staff of which 34 work part-time. M-Brain differentiates itself from its competitors by a ‘business model that is based both on human expertise and state-of-the-art search technology’, where most of their competitors emphasize only one of the two.

The company does not say much about the search technology except that the quality ‘results from scalability of human effort, achieved by replacing the mechanical part by technological means, themselves scalable. Query enrichment tools and interactive means of reorganizing the filtered material transform raw data into normalized information. The process and the representation are optimized with regard to human cognition and customer needs, enabling also broader survey of discourses related to an industry domain, resulting in products such as alerts, ananlyses and recognition of emergent relationships and trends‘ . The only bit I could find out the above I can really say I understood was that the company also employs refined data stream offered by Whitevector and Leiki‘s semantic filtering tools. That said, the company states that their R&D investments add up to 15% of turnover, which is a very healthy number.

How M-Brain aims to differ from the Google and other aggregators is by rewriting the content instead of only cutting and pasting or taking a bit of the article and pushing it forward in a feed. In the Nordics M-Brain needs to compete with the likes of Meltwater and Cision, but as soon as you enter for example the UK you can find bigger players such as Libraryhouse among others.

M-Brain might have a killer technology and I hope they do, since their editorial does not seem to offer terribly much value based on their blog (in Finnish) where they claim to ‘observe the social media and offer perspective, opinions and experiences from the web’. The quality of the analysis throws a dark shadow of their claimed ‘human expertise’ which accounts for half of their product offering. For pure information aggregation this might not pose such a problem, but for those looking for in depth analysis I’d look long and hard how much bang I get for my buck.

Currently the company is looking for acquisitions from the old media that work in the media monitoring industry. This would allow M-Brain to integrate their technology to these players’ organizations which are stuck in the old way of doing things, and thus pushing the efficiency and margins way up. This would also offer the company a way acquire new customers in a quick and efficient manner.