Startup of the Week – Mention, “Google Alerts on steroids”, with just-announced funding from Point Nine and Alven Capital2013-03-14 19
Working as a journalist means constantly scanning the web for keywords and story tip-offs – plus spending an exorbitant amount of time on Twitter and Facebook to gauge readers’ reactions. It can sometimes feel like monitoring is a full-time job in itself.
That’s why media monitoring service Mention (erwaehnung.de in Germany) was launched – it aggregates reactions and mentions across a range of online channels and gathers them in one, convenient location.
Launched in 2012, the Paris-based startup has also attracted the attention of investors, with new today of a so-called “flash” seed funding round of €600,000 from Berlin-based Point Nine Capital and French VC Alven Capital.
Nicolas Celier, of Alven Capital, was quick to sing the company’s praises in a press release, saying: “This is a game-changer company that puts Google Alerts on steroids and combines it with social media monitoring, and on top adds straight forward community management features.”
Mention doesn’t just count its investors as fans, it is also drawing users from around the world – with a total of 50,000 users and paying customers from 46 countries. We caught up with cofounder Edouard de La Jonquière to find out what’s next post-funding:
Who are you and what are you doing?
Hi, I am Edouard, one of the cofounders of Mention. What Mention does is reinvent Google Alerts, based on the fact that when you launch a product or project, you definitely need to know what people are saying about it, what the feedback is. You just put in an alert with your name, brand, company and competitors and get notifications when you are mentioned.
We couldn’t imagine launching a startup without having a tool like Mention. So we think Mention is like Google Alerts on turbo charge, because with it you can monitor social networks like Facebook and Twitter and also the whole web, including blogs, forums, news sites, video, picture sites.
We say we’re a combination of Google Alerts and TweetDeck. We also go a step further than Google Alerts by adding a filter, so the information is qualified through an anti-noise filter and priority inbox. And of course we have an application, which Google Alerts doesn’t have. So people can react in real time to notifications and feedback from people.
How did you come across your idea?
We were lacking a unified tool that aggregates all sources of information you need to monitor. So when you launch a product, you need Facebook mentions, Twitter mentions, but you also want to know what’s said on blogs and news sites. So we found we wasted a lot of time switching between TweetDeck, Facebook, Google Alerts and everything. So we decided to unify and aggregate all sources of information in one application.
Who are the founders and how did you find each other?
We are five cofounders – myself, Arnaud Le Blanc, Didier Forest, Thibaud Elzière, the founder of fotolia.com and Quentin Nickmans, who is the cofounder of e-founders. I studied philosophy and then did management consulting in France and abroad. The cofounders met thanks to common relationships and since then the team has been the same, there is no rejection or new hiring!
Since we have now closed a seed round we plan on recruiting a couple people by the end of 2013.
At the moment, our team is spread all over France – we only have two people in Paris. But we meet every two months. It’s more flexible that way, because our office is Skype. We have conferences all day and all night, it’s 24 hours. And a relocation to the US is in the works.
What is your business model?
We have a very simple business model. We have a freemium model, so you can use Mention for free, with a limitation of 500 mentions per month. Or to get more Mentions per month and access analytics, statistics and a data explore tool you have to pay €15.50 per month – that is our pro plan. Then we have a team plan, which allows big companies to buy several premium licences with only one module. Because we think Mention is a collaborative tool because we have several collaborative features within the app. We already generate revenue.
Who is financing you?
We received angel money and one founder contributed – but under €100,000. And now this latest seed funding round of €600,000 from Point Nine and Alven Capital. We call this funding round a “flash raise” because we approached just five investors we knew would be interested last November and raised the money by December.
We just sent a HTML 5 presentation page and a pre-drafted terms sheet, the whole idea was not to lose any time on the round and keep focusing on product development and traction.
Is there something that you missing?
We are actively looking for developers. In terms of staff, it’s technical staff we need. We work with cool technologies and new technologies and it is quite hard to find good people in that area. Because they will be employee number one and two, so have a lot of responsibility – and we cant afford to pay millions and millions of euros per year, so we need to find people who are interested and are happy with equity or shares.
Kevin Rose from Google Ventures – since we are reinventing Google Alerts I’d be keen to talk business with him and chat about Mention. If it wasn’t business I’d like to have lunch with Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, I wouldn’t talk about Mention but ask him about the strange way he has to tune his guitar strings.
Any advice you’d give for fellow startups?
Never start alone. Having a team before having a great team is essential. I have a couple of friends who started alone and then looked for cofounders, and it just doesn’t usually work. Secondly, talk to your customers before even launching beta. Need to validate that your product will work in the market otherwise it will be really difficult to grow and scale.
Where will you be in a years time?
In terms of numbers, we’d like to have one million users – a high objective, but we have high expectations. We could be moving to the US then, too.
[The company also plans using the new funding to add to their marketing and sales team, plus improve the collaborative features in the product.]
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