FEATURE30 October 2012

Market research – with added SaaS

Features News

How will Cint spend the €6.9m recently invested in the company? We spoke to founder and CEO Bo Mattsson to find out.

Cint founder Bo Mattsson is a busy man. Having finalised a €6.9m investment round from existing backers Prime Technology Ventures and Creandum, he has spent the subsequent fortnight touring the firm’s many offices worldwide and identifying new ways to grow the business following its rebrand earlier this year.

“To some extent, the rebrand has had some great effects,” he says, “but there is still a lot we have to do to make ourselves more widely known as a company and as an aid to market researchers.”

“We’ve always been very clear that we do not want to be a market research agency or a panel provider. That’s not our bread and butter and we have no desire to change that”

Mattsson places a lot of emphasis on the word “aid”. Cint’s business proposition revolves around providing companies access to consumer opinions by connecting them with more than 7.5 million people in 50 countries, all recruited through 500 different panels owned by an assortment of businesses, such as publishers, market research agencies and nonprofits. Its exchange platform, OpinionHUB, is the tool that brings this is all together.

“For me, we’ve always been very clear that we do not want to be a market research agency or a panel provider. That’s not our bread and butter and we have no desire to change that,” says Mattsson. “What we do want is to educate the marketplace about the technological gains you can achieve from working with a technology partner who can match needs with respondents.

“Our speciality is software-as-a-service (SaaS) in the cloud. Companies come to the platform to set up online groups of consumers, businesses and specialist communities that can be accessed by market researchers. Using our Link software, they can then create API connections allowing people to use third party systems to access the marketplace, which can then be furthered with DIY surveys to gain instant information as you need it.”

Part of Cint’s new funding will go towards enhancing these products and services, whilst also boosting marketing around the Cint brand “so that more people easily understand who we are and what we offer,” Mattsson says. “People are still confusing us with being just another panel provider.”

Mattsson says that the API and DIY parts of his business are growing at comparable rates – but DIY still runs up against scepticism and criticism.

“In some cases, people are trading speed for quality and that’s what’s giving DIY a bad name,” he explains. “We’re trying to help our DIY users understand that you need to maintain quality to really get the best insights for your business and make the approach worthwhile. I don’t believe that DIY will ever overtake traditional research, but in a world where everything moves at a rapid pace, it is necessary to include it in your insights mix.”

Dreaming big (data)

In addition to enhancing its current product suite, part of the funds will be dedicated to creating “future needs-based solutions”. Mattsson says this could include work in the big data space and enhanced cloud computing support.

“We are very well placed for big data and are looking at ways of better merging data to offer stronger market and audience insights for our end-customers. Our solutions are all entirely-based on double opted-in security settings and we will be maintaining that commitment to privacy to ensure that whatever data is merged remains completely anonymous and with no identifiable information available – but we can offer a stronger understanding of users and behaviours from a 360-degree perspective.”

His dream, he says, is to find a way of using Cint’s platforms to merge online and offline data for audiences everywhere, so that brands can use Cint’s cloud platform as a prime resource in planning communications budgets and media mixes more effectively. “This may be some time away though,” he concedes.

One thing he does rule out is any extra offices. Mattsson says that after the company’s recent closure of offices in Toronto, Paris and Copenhagen (with all workload relocated to the US and Stockholm), it has no plans to open new ones “for the foreseeable future – but we will continue to establish partnerships to have a worldwide presence”, he says.