10 times better, faster or cheaper: The startup challenge. An interview with David Ottlik of Synetiq
Synetiq Ltd. is a cutting-edge media research company providing content producers with emotional insights directly from their customers’ brain and body. Synetiq leverages recent developments in wearable bio-sensor technology to understand how people feel when they see an advertisement, a TV show or a movie, and helps its customers create more engaging videos and ultimately increase their sales. Synetiq’s approach, called crowdsourced neuromarketing, delivers unprecedented insights to understand their customers anywhere in the world in a fast and cost-efficient way.
First off, please tell us about your background.
I was born in Budapest, graduated from Lycée Francais de Budapest (a French school), then studied design and architecture in Paris and Hong Kong. I’ve founded several businesses since the age of 14 and have learned a lot about the media sector and client relationships. Synetiq has been my most exciting and fastest growing endeavor so far.
What inspired you to build Synetiq? What’s the concept behind the company?
The inspiration came at a neurotechnology workshop in Paris that I was attending. In a couple of weeks this idea transformed into a business. The team moved to Budapest for the whole summer in 2013 and spent months figuring out the service based on discussions with experts from different industries.
The main concept is to provide advertisers and media companies, TV or film producers with emotional insights directly from their viewers’ brain and body. At Synetiq, we are using the latest wearable bio-sensors to gather large amounts of emotional data from research participants then we quantify and analyze the results to finally deliver a report to the clients. The technology, the platform and the data-analysis algorithms are developed by our team and they are based on the last 50 years of emotional science. Research participants are selected according to the clients’ needs from our database and they participate from the comfort of their homes as we provide them with the sensors.
Synetiq has won an investment prize at the Finnish Startup Sauna Accelerator program last year. How did winning this prize motivate and encourage the growth of the company’s concept?
We learned a lot at Startup Sauna and had amazing coaches and mentors who helped us refine our business model. Although their expertise, the money we won, the prestige that comes with winning a prize and the trip to Silicon Valley all helped to kick off our story, we finally decided not to keep our administrative presence in Helsinki and we finally continued as a Hungarian company.
A lot of people ask about this. It is a word we created that contains references to Synapsis, Synergy, Network, Internet, Ethics and IQ…
Who else is on the Synetiq team?
In the last few months we’ve doubled our team and right now we are 8 passionate professionals with very diverse backgrounds. We have people with Computer-, Software- and Electrical Engineering backgrounds, Research Psychologists, and people with experience in business and in market research. Since we have foreign employees as well, our internal communication is in English. We are growing fast so we are constantly looking for awesome and talented people to join us. If you are interested, you can apply on our website.
Not long ago you had the opportunity to present Synetiq in New York at Northside Festival and learn from others in the tech industry. What were your experiences? What effect did it have on your business?
Last year we traveled a lot. Paris, London, Naples, Helsinki, Stockholm, Tel-Aviv, Silicon Valley and New York were all among our destinations. New York is particularly interesting for us as it is the host city of major ad and media agencies. Silicon Valley and Los Angeles are also very interesting as the film production industry is focused there. These industries are our target market, so it is important for us to meet with the key players on a regular basis. We learn from others, we market our services and make great new connections with partners and potential clients during these trips.
As one of the most promising startups of Hungary what is the biggest challenge that you have to face?
For a company based in Central Eastern Europe, one of the challenges is to win global clients’ trust and work with them in the long-run. Fortunately, Budapest is becoming a booming startup hub of the region. Since the workforce is highly-trained and talented here and the costs are lower than in the US or in Western Europe, Hungarian companies can have a competitive advantage. I don’t see any challenges that would be significantly different from other startup’ just because we are based in Budapest. Today, it is pretty easy to do business in any corner of the world no matter where you are based.
One of the exciting features of Synetiq is that it brings together technology, neuroscience, psychology and the media and advertising business. How can you reconcile and unite these fields and the people working in them?
Research has always been an important tool in both the media and the advertising industries, so providing a new kind of data in a faster and better way is not like we are reinventing the wheel. We just provide these companies with insight that they didn’t have access to before. The ad industry and the media are both highly competitive fields. They need to make tough decisions regarding their budgets on a regular basis and that’s when Synetiq enters the picture. The information we offer can help these industries make better decisions. It is also important to provide clear and practical insight to people who use them and not just throw some numbers and curves their way.
Synetiq was featured in Forbes Magazine, TechCrunch and TheNextWeb as well. Do you feel the publicity has made an impact on your business? Has it been positive or negative? In what ways?
In the first phase of a startup’s life, any kind of general publicity is great as usually your story is all you have. Once you have a decent product or service to sell, it is better to have publications and people talk about you in relevant forums as you might want your target audience to learn more about you.
Synetiq is a great example of true innovation, but how can you compete with already established companies in the field of audience measurement? What can Synetiq do better than the competition?
Giant companies in the media research industry are our competitors, of course. Although they have more clients and bigger turnover than we do for the moment, a fast-moving startup has a lot of advantages that industry giants don’t have. One of them is speed. Startups can react to new trends, new technologies, new opportunities and new situations fast, while an industry behemoth can’t just jump on every opportunity that comes up. To earn clients from competitors, a startup’s product or service should be at least 10 times better, faster or cheaper than existing solutions. In our case, we are working on making our neuromarketing research service a lot faster, more scalable and more cost-efficient than our competitors’ services.
The yearly SXSW Festival in Austin is an event where technology meets the media industry, so it is an awesome place to be for a media startup like ourselves. We expect to meet potential partners and clients at the event and see what other media-tech companies are working on. We are thankful to Design Terminál, a Budapest-based government-run agency that supports the Hungarian creative industry and innovation, for choosing us to represent our country at this amazing festival.
What are your plans for the future, in what ways can you grow?
Right now we are focusing on developing our business in the United Kingdom and to launch a new service there in the near future. Stay tuned and follow our progress by signing up on our website: http://synetiq.net
Thank you for the interview, David! The best of luck to you and your team!
Visit Synetiq’s website: http://synetiq.net
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