July 25, 2017
In this article I was interviewed by StartStories. The format was simple, answer 7 questions to pitch your startup. A translated version is below.
If you want the original German post, you can find it here.
Mind Trace in the Seven Questions Startup Pitch. How did the idea come about, how does the business model work, and what successes have been achieved so far?
Question 1: Explain the startup in three sentences.
In short: Mind Trace has developed software that can read thoughts through a webcam. Our software detects where someone is looking (Eye Tracking), how they feel at that moment (Emotion Tracking), and measures their pulse. We offer these measurement methods as an analysis service for the advertising industry to optimize ads in any format.
Question 2: What is the idea behind your startup and how did it come about?
Both of us have earned our doctorates in neuroscience, and we noticed that more and more marketing professionals were showing up at the institute. At some point, I wondered what they were doing here. Fortunately, I managed to talk to one of them, and he simply answered, “We want to know how our advertising really affects people.” At that time, fMRI scanners or EEGs were used for this purpose. Scientifically, it was nonsense, but how would he know? We thought that the question could be answered much better and faster through Emotion Tracking, which can determine how someone feels based on their facial expressions. That’s how our journey began.
Question 3: Introduce yourself and your team briefly!
At our core, we have 2 founders: Dr. Adjmal Sarwary and Dr. Ivar Clemens. Adjmal mostly takes care of the commercial aspect of the company, and Ivar implements our algorithms and our entire system. In addition, we are supported by a professional network with extensive experience in the advertising industry.
Question 4: What have been your biggest successes and absolute low points so far?
Our biggest successes started early. Right from the beginning, we applied for funds to implement our idea. The process itself went very smoothly, and the committee was very positive about the potential of our project. We also did not expect such a rush and interest from the industry. Coming from the research field, the environment suddenly became quite different. We experienced our first low point shortly thereafter. It probably had to do with things going too smoothly at the beginning. The funds we received were part of a larger process divided into Part 1 and Part 2. We received Part 1 and were able to implement all our plans. So we were very confident that we would also get Part 2, but we received a rejection. The low point was so difficult to process because our entire strategy was based on these funds. Now we had to decide whether to continue or quit. We chose to continue!
Question 5: Why are you convinced that you can be successful, and how do you plan to achieve it in the future?
We are convinced that there is a market for these studies, and our technology and service are accessible not only to large companies. The big advantage we have is that we are neuroscientists. We know which measurement methods lead to which conclusions. Apart from that, our technology can be used in more than just the advertising industry; that is just the beginning for us. In the future, we want to move towards e-learning and e-health.
Question 6: How do you assess the current market situation? How do you perceive your competition?
The current market situation is full of potential. Video advertising itself is growing and expanding online. In this world where more and more advertising is being published faster and faster, it is necessary to deliver analyses and data just as quickly, and that’s precisely what we can do. Our competition is good, but many focus too much on Emotion Tracking alone, and we think that’s only a part of the puzzle. If I know how someone feels, that’s interesting, but I still have to guess what the person was seeing at that moment, and what if there was no change in facial expression?
Question 7: How has the startup been financed so far, and how do you plan to finance it in the future?
Initially, we received funds that allowed us to set up our system and implement our algorithms. When we didn’t receive the second funding stream, we immediately started looking for customers. So, we are currently offering our service and financing ourselves in this way. Once we have received enough customer feedback and are confident that we have a service/product that our customers cannot get enough of, we want to scale up and will then be open to investments.
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