Startup of the Week – Tame, cutting the noise out of your Twitter feed

Michelle Kuepper 2013-06-12 1

With an average of 400 million tweets being sent on Twitter every day there’s only a certain amount you can sift through, even if you’re savvy with who you’re following. Enter Tame, the Berlin-based startup that has developed an algorithm to cut through the noise of your Twitter stream and bring you the information you actually care about.

The Berlin-based startup launched in 2012 – coming out of the Humboldt University startup programme – and has since lured a few thousand users to its service. We caught up with cofounder Torsten Müller to find out how his journalistic background inspired Tame and why the startup is waiting for Twitter to come a-knockin’…

Who are you and what are you doing?

I am one of the founders of Tame, which is a software solution that lets you find and analyse content from your Twitter feed. It sifts through the huge amounts of noise on Twitter to find what is relevant for you. When you log in with Tame, to give you the gist of what has happened in the past 24 hours, it analyses content from your timeline and then crunches it down to a top ten overview of the most relevant hashtags, users and links. It’s great if you don’t have time to be on Twitter all day.

Secondly, you can use Tame like a search engine to find the most relevant topics, people and content from Twitter – so, for example, you could do a search on #startups to find out more about what is trending in that area.

We are supported by Exist, an entrepreneurial grant from the German Ministry of Economics and Technology and the European Social Fund.

How did you come across your idea?

We all come from journalistic backgrounds, so we were obsessed with Twitter and used it a lot. But we found it very noisy and wanted a way to filter our streams to find out what was really relevant and credible information.

Who are the founders and what have you done before?

I worked for DPA and for an online magazine called stern.de. Frederik is more of a TV journalist and has worked for many outlets. We met in a masters programme called Erasmus Mundus Media, Journalism and Globalisation, which is funded by the EU. It’s very cool, during the programme you get to go to three different countries in three years with a about 40-50 journalists from around the world.

Our third cofounder is Arno Dirlam, he is our CTO and a Ruby-on-Rails specialist. He has experience developing software for CRM systems and web-based applications for small and mid-sized clients.

What makes you different from everyone else?

The question we get all the time is why isn’t Twitter doing this themselves? Our standard answer is it’s not their focus, they are providing data and are introducing other products. But they are letting third parties do the development and then they buy it after.

There are other services that are similar to us – like Topsy. But we are the only ones that gather topics, content and people in one glance.

Our relevance algorithm is also unique. No one is using the same algorithm to put relevant information on top. We are looking at how many people are talking about a specific topic and what kind of people – if somebody talks a lot, we don’t count them more than another person. It is a more democratic process.

How many users do you have?

Since we launched, we’ve gathered a couple thousand users. Most importantly, 60-70 per cent are from journalism and PR-type industries. We have an international user base, though most users are still in Germany. We want to expand – Tame is in English first and foremost.

Where to next?

America is a target – we won a place in the Axel Springer Plug & Play accelerator at the Heureka Conference, but had to turn it down because we already have a spot with the German Silicon Valley Accelerator and have office space and mentoring there. It was a tough decision turning down Plug & Play, but there were too many things that had already been organised. The programme is three months minimum and if you show you’re doing well and gaining traction it can extend to six months.

What is your business model?

It’s subscription-based, we are ending our open beta quite soon. It’ll start at €5 per month in a freemium model. Your own timeline and network analysis will remain free. Premium users will get global searches and be able to use multiple accounts, plus a few other things.

We have B2B customers too, and provide them with customised data and API access, but we charge them at individual rates. A lot of companies use the product to manage their social media accounts, so if we are talking about customised analysis of data we are talking big clients and univerities, too.

Who is financing you? 

We did crowd investing with Companisto and got around €250,000 in three weeks. That was pretty fast – I think we are one of the most successful startups they’ve had.

Why crowdfunding?

Marketing and speed – getting that money together through angels would have taken a lot of time. Plus we got a lot of PR from it, the marketing value is not to be underestimated.

Who would you like to have a lunch with and what would you talk about?

If it is business-related definitely someone who created Twitter, such as Jack Dorsey. Otherwise, I would talk to Michael Jordan.

Any advice you’d give for fellow startups?

Focus. That’s very hard, especially if you come from journalism because you like to engage in a lot of different issues and you want to solve so many problems at the same time. But you really have to break it down to one solution in the beginning, then maybe you can move on from there.

Where will you be in a year’s time?

Hopefully with a couple hundred thousand users, global, not only in English and German-speaking markets but other ones too – such as Brazil – which is the second largest Twitter market as far as I know.

Maybe having integrated another source alongside Twitter, or maybe talking about a cooperation with Twitter – we’ll see how it goes!

Image credit: Flickr user cliff1066™

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