Be you blogger, small business owner or CEO of one of the world’s biggest corporations; you probably already understand the importance of listening to exactly what your customers or followers are saying about you. But despite a continual rise in customer-centric companies, most customer feedback is garnered through surveys and focus groups or very basic (and inaccurate) technology, which doesn’t exactly result in rock solid data. Enter Lamplight; a social media analytics tool that provides users access to everything said about them online, wherever it may hide. Co-founded by Nathan Pacey, Fergus Clarke and Sam Olsen, Lamplight is a tool that follows the conversation wherever it takes place, be it on the more obvious sites such as Facebook and Twitter, or on one of the millions of slightly more obscure sites that exist.
“We take data from a collection of micro-services that access the world’s biggest social media platforms, blogs, forums and boards, process the data and present it on a simple online dashboard so that even if you’re not a techie or a market researcher, you’ll find the information incredibly useful,” Nathan tells us, who adds that this includes information such as sentiment – whether something is positive, negative or neutral, for example. Plus topics people are interested in, who your biggest fans and advocates are and where to reach them online. “Brands and businesses use these insights to better understand their world,” explains the Hong Kong based techie. “This can affect things like how to deal with competitors and customers, or what marketing or product decisions to make. It’s a tool that companies and people need to understand the real thoughts and emotions that can drive action and consumer behaviour.”
The idea for the startup, which raised almost US$1.5 million in seed funding last year, came about when CEO Fergus saw a gap in the market. “Fergus comes from a market research background and he noticed that in the industry, while there were tools out there that do social media analytics, none were doing it especially well and the tools available were not taking advantage of the newest technologies or built for specific languages and platforms important in the APAC region,” says Nathan. So, over a couple of beers, the trio began discussing the technical aspects of Fergus’ idea, and Nathan was able to build a working prototype within a couple of months.
When it came to actually building the technology, Nathan drew on previous experience of working on business intelligence and real-time systems for companies like IBM and many of the ASX200. “While this sounds complicated, experience has taught me to keep things as simple as possible,” explains Nathan. “For example, when we built a simple proof of concept to demo Lamplight, it was simplifying an idea as complicated as restructuring the world’s social media data to create a product that we could show investors as quickly as possible. If you can simplify complexity, you’re a star.”
While Lamplight hopes for global success within the next five years, they’ve already experienced significant growth in the Asia market, which has proved to be a solid foundation. “It was a conscious choice to start locally in Asia,” explains Nathan. “We saw a gap in our market space where western based competition simply could not effectively serve the APAC region. Our analytics technology has been built from the ground up around the needs of Asian businesses.” That means they support almost 200 languages (including Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Malay, Korean and Bahasa Indonesia), global data sources (including Asia-specific ones) and have an unrivalled ease of use. “We have found that there are a lot of potential customers in this region that need our product and insights from social media but could not find a solution that fit through our competitors,” says Nathan. “We fill that gap.”
Looking forward, Lamplight – which still operates out of a co-working space in Kennedy Town (“a great place to meet and collaborate with like-minded individuals with big ideas”) – aim to ensure they evolve to provide their users with the deepest understanding of world around them in the form of actionable insights. “While Lamplight won’t necessarily become a household name like Coca-Cola or Vegemite, we will be powering many of those types of brands out there to help guide their messaging and better engage with their audiences,” explains Nathan. “From there, the power of Lamplight can also empower the smaller brands, all the mum and dad businesses out there.”