Gravity: Big Data from Budapest
Central Eastern Europe as the Hub of Innovation
Gravity was founded in 2006 by a team of accomplished data scientists from Budapest Technical University. This team went on to tie for first place in the Netflix Prize Competition in 2009, the largest machine-learning event ever held. Gravity was able to prove that it could compete with the world’s best and that Hungary was indeed a source of world-class innovation. One of the core strengths of Gravity continues to be its access to top talent and a business culture that is rapidly evolving. The team operates from Budapest but its aim has been to be global from the start. It plans to keep the research and development and core teams in Budapest while making strategic partnerships all around the world.
“We saw the same recipe for Prezi, Ustream, LogMeIn and now our plan is to catch up to those guys. We have a really competitive industry so we aim for perfection and focusing on innovative solutions. We rely heavily on IT, and from that perspective Budapest is the place to be right now. Regarding our global aim, it certainly has its advantages there, too,” says Marton Vertes, Global Business Development Manager at Gravity. “Budapest is the perfect place for our HQ, with booming nightlife, growing potential and relatively affordable living costs. Due to our central location, all the major cities in Europe are accessible with ease to visit clients or conferences and our time zone gives us the luxury to catch up with our Asian partners in the morning, work with European clients afterwards and finish the day with the recap of business development activities in the U.S.” – says Mr. Vertes
“I’ve been living in Budapest for 17 years, and I’ve seen the city change for the better with better infrastructure, more and more expats and a wider selection of cultural events,” says Kevin Jackson, Global Sales Director at Gravity.
“The V4 countries of Central Eastern Europe are important markets for Gravity. There is a growing need for innovative solutions like personalization, as people are getting tired of the ‘one size fits all’ approach. Poland, with a population of around 40 million people, allows us access to sites among the Alexa Top 100. The smaller countries, however, such as Hungary, Slovakia or Czech Republic, make it easier for us to penetrate due to relatively fewer competitors,” says Tamas Motajcsek, Global Business Development Manager of Gravity.
Also, the region has some of the world’s best innovative minds who have already proven their worth on a global level. Gravity has the opportunity to partner with the world’s top Beacon providers in Poland and use Prezi to inform and entertain both customers and prospects. More and more solutions reach global recognition, and the expertise of these teams benefits new ideas. Since even established, successful startups and their leaders are easy to reach, university students can meet with them at local conferences and events and gain valuable insight into the world of entrepreneurship. This knowledge transfer is key for innovation. After Skype was acquired by Microsoft, Estonia emerged as one of the hot spots for startups, and now we have the chance to do the same in a bigger market.
Gravity R&D became one of the world’s leading machine learning and recommendation engines. They help clients harness the power of Big Data and create personalized user journeys. These journeys represent all of the opportunities that a brand has to interact with a customer over touch points such as PC, tablet, mobile phone or even in physical spaces. Gravity offers on-site personalization (such as recommendation boxes, smart search, dynamic landing pages) and off-site solutions (such as personalized retargeting and email) that are powered by machine learning. This omni-channel approach opens up the possibility to deliver the right offer to the right person standing in the right place at the right time on the right device.
Today, Gravity serves clients on all five continents such as Dailymotion, the world’s second biggest video sharing platform behind YouTube. Other key clients include two global leaders in online e-commerce, Schibsted and Naspers, as well as RCI (part of the Wyndham Group), the world’s biggest timeshare network. Gravity has recently established a sales agency in Indonesia and will aggressively pursue expansion in the Southeast Asian region.
Gravity’s goal is to determine the best relationship between personal taste and other preferences through sophisticated, scalable algorithms. Gravity has now developed more than 100 algorithms. Its competitive advantage is directly related to the team’s ability to instantly recognize and address opportunities to boost KPIs. This is the principle reason why Gravity was asked to complete A/B tests for five enterprise clients in 2014, and signed long-term contracts with all of them.
“Improving user experience is one of our most important missions, and that’s exactly why we chose Gravity. Their team produced instantly visible results, both in the number of clicks and the amount of watched videos,” says Sylvain Brosset, Research & Development Director at Dailymotion.
“One of the most impressive aspects of this system is how dynamic the formula is, always updating the recommendations it offers based on the member’s activities,” Gurnik says. “Whether members access these recommendations via the Vacation Guides in the call center or on RCI.com, it’s almost like having a personal travel agent who knows what you like and always leads you to the vacations that match your desires and needs best,” says Gordon Gurnik, president of RCI.
The secret to its international success is nothing but the competence of Gravity’s staff. “Right now we have more than 30 people working for the company: developments take place at home, but sales activities are carried out abroad, in the target country. The team members have diverse experience in various fields of applications, and we are particularly active in academic life. This leads to our service being flexible, easy to configure and effortlessly useable,” added Domonkos Tikk, CEO of Gravity R&D.
Gravity works closely with Budapest Technical University and also hires students from Corvinus University of Budapest and Eötvös Lóránd Science University, the top local schools in their respective fields. Gravity provides real hands-on experience for students during their studies and continues the existing partnership once they have graduated. This approach allows us to lure the best talent and educate them further to become top in their respective fields.
Gravity is one of three Hungarian startups chosen to represent Central-Eastern-European at the We4Startups Pitching Event in Silicon Valley on April 23, 2015. You can register here: http://we4startups.com/