Every week we talk to a founder who is looking for external financing. This week we will be talking to Hannes de Wachter, co-founder and CEO of Mindspeller.
A Dutch translation of this article can be found on Emerce.
Let’s start with: what is Mindspeller?
“You can think of us as a brand positioning GPS. Branding advice is often based on gut feeling. We have developed a kind of GPS to approach this process more objectively.
We put a brand on the map based on spontaneous associations and ask the customer (the brand) what they want people to associate with the brand. That then becomes the destination for the brand. A thematic roadmap is created for inspiration to reposition the brand and get it top of mind.”
Is that gut feeling often not reliable?
“We see that 26% of every marketing budget ($207 billion) worldwide is wasted on gut-driven marketing communications. That sometimes leads to additional reputational damage through subtle unwanted associations with the ‘gut feeling’ campaign. A well-known example is that of Tropicana, which lost $30 million in sales in 2 months due to a repositioning campaign recommended by a marketing guru agency, which had charged $20 million for it. Something doesn’t stick, or the wrong things get stuck in the head of the target group. Thanks to our approach, we avoid such a doomsday scenario for companies large and small. We optimize brand equity through our strategic approach and continuous quality control.
Mindspeller is a suite of web applications that provide neuromarketing decision support for marketers in an accessible way. The Mindspeller ‘Neuro AI’ offers insights into decoding the brand DNA, developing the brand story, and tracking brand equity quickly. Think of it as the voice of the GPS in your car. Mindspeller advises the entire MarCom team to what extent creative expressions contribute to achieving the goal. And the AI offers inspiration to optimize that content: alternative route options, so to speak.”
What stage is Mindspeller in now?
“We spent five years developing the roadmap, based on the neural network, a simple cross-section of the unconscious consumer brain, the holy grail for neuro marketers. We are a spin-off of KU Leuven. My cofounder is a neuroscience professor at the university. Now we’re going to continue with the online access of that card. By the summer, for example, you can try a first gut check of your homepage screenshot based on a temporary free trial account. First come, first served! “
You are looking for external financing, right?
“We have the first customers. For example, we experimented with the City of Antwerp for three years. They are so satisfied that they have extended their license for the next four years. Offline and online, all city communication is pre-tested and fine-tuned via Mindspeller. In addition, we also work with brand agencies that want to rely on our platform to substantiate their pitches more objectively. So we have recurring business, but that is not yet sufficient to break even. We need startup financing to scale up.”
What is the amount you are looking for?
“For this round, which is open through September, 500k would be ideal. We believe that this will enable us to achieve commercial traction. The majority of this goes to business development, sales, and marketing. Since it is a deep-tech platform and quite a disruptive innovation, we must also continue to invest in our R&D. Continuous development maintains the quality of our dynamic network. It is a human-centric AI and thus takes shape based on thousands of respondents. The human, qualitative aspect makes it a unique product. That also means that we have to maintain it. It continues to grow. People are constantly putting brands on the map. It is a unique product worldwide.”
What profile does the ideal investor have for Mindspeller?
“The ideal investor has experience in the branding/brand agency/strategy world and is visionary enough to realize that they must make investments in this direction. That you can no longer rely on gut feeling. We have already attracted business angels who have run agencies. That’s one type.
The other profile is someone who has a complementary business. I can give two examples of this. For example, an HR startup company that works with a psycho-analytical test. We linked the subconscious part of that test to our network. Another example is someone active as an online retailer, for example, in fashion, so that our B2C AI engine can provide hyper-personalized tailor-made advice. It also links to our database. We have done something similar with an international perfume group, where we can propose personalized perfume based on our network.”
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs based on your experience with Mindspeller so far?
“Don’t run before you can walk: perhaps an open door, but I think it is an appropriate way of life. We also committed it in the beginning. We were not yet far enough with the product and already wanted to scale up. One step at a time.”
Where do you see Mindspeller in five years?
“I think we’ve developed something so unique that the platform is being used worldwide in marketing like Google Maps or any other transportation navigation system. We already have thousands of brands on it. We want to democratize consumer neuroscience. It is an attractive and user-friendly platform with a price that makes it accessible so that all marketers can use it without a doubt.”