In 2002, a couple of years after the dot-com boom and bust, MBS started an internal daily newsletter to keep track of the global consumer sector. We called it the Mews News. More often than not, clients like to talk to us about industry news and so one day in 2004 I sent it to a client and the rest, as they say, is history. Ten years later and we were up to a global readership of 25,000 but still gathering the news in the same way as we did it all the way back in 2002! So, in 2012, in a garage in Belsize Park, we incubated a start-up. A small team spent two years collaborating with data scientists from some of the UK’s top universities, and Signal was born.
Three years later, and Signal is generating some serious interest, including being named as Retail Week’s start-up of the week a few days ago. Good ideas sometimes grow into companies. Signal made it out of the garage and into Second Home in Shoreditch, an office designed by the next Serpentine Pavillion winners, José Selgas and Lucía Cano. MBS was of course Signal’s first client, followed by the Centre for Policy Studies and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.
“Business has an information problem,” says Signal’s CEO David Benigson. “The ever-growing abundance of data available online means that it’s never been harder to find the right information at the right time. Our vision is a world in which everyone has at their fingertips the ability to make real-time, data-driven decisions.” To break the mould, the Signal team took a well-established model and improved it. By scouring over 75,000 news outlets, 3.5 million blogs and 100 social networks, Signal’s technology enables any individual or business to access, analyse and monitor real-time information. Signal users receive bespoke feeds on the companies, people, topics and trends that are important to them. The difference? A new perspective, for starters. Signal is challenging large legacy operations in the media monitoring market. The majority of these businesses came to prominence in the Nineties, and still focus on tired information sources such as press clippings from print media. This makes the market ripe for disruption.
Russel Levi, former Global Head of Product Management at Bloomberg, says the incumbents simply haven’t kept pace with the rapid pace of growth in online content. “The advent of social media has resulted in exponential growth in content creation and distribution,” he says. “With billions of pieces of content produced every day, companies are finding it increasingly hard to cut through the noise to find the information that will give them a competitive edge.” Russel has now joined Signal to drive product, sales and content strategies. He advises David and the rest of the management team, including CTO Wesley Hall, previously of Gumtree, Fab and eBay, and Head of Research Dr Miguel Martinez, a distinguished academic who has published papers on text mining, information retrieval, machine learning and natural language processing.
Signal’s commercial, forward-thinking approach to cutting-edge academics – and its ability to spot a gap in the market – represents a serious challenge to the old guard of information providers, and opens the door to a new wave of intelligence software. They are currently looking for companies to trial their new product, so if you’re interested in having a bespoke news feed, let David know at email@example.com, and have a great weekend!