By Pedro Arbex, published in Brazil Journal in January 2021.
Knewin - a startup that monitors brand reputation using artificial intelligence - has just raised $ 40 million to expand its product portfolio with acquisitions and accelerate its international expansion.
The check for the Series A round came from Oria Capital, a private equity manager focused on SaaS (software as a service) companies. Oria has already invested in Gupy, of recruitment; in Pixeon, an ERP for hospitals; and in Zenvia, of conversational commerce.
This is the third round since Knewin was founded in 2011.Since then, the startup has raised another R$ 16.5 million with KPTL and Invisto, both venture capital managers.
Founded in Florianopolis by two computer scientists, Lucas Nazário and Fabiano Beppler, Knewin is injecting technology into an industry in need of innovation: the public relations agencies and press offices.
Until recently, these companies monitored their customers in an archaic way: one person kept reading the news in the main communication vehicles and manually selecting the stories in which their customers were quoted.
Knewin developed an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of monitoring in real time 1.2 million distinct sources of information - from sites and social networks to radios and television channels - generating more than 10 terabytes of data per day.
Startup serves about a thousand clients, who pay a monthly fee to have access to the platform, and invoiced about R$ 30 million in 2020. The goal for this year is more than double the revenue, reaching $ 70 million.
In practice, Knewin clients - agencies such as FSB, companies such as Petrobras and public institutions such as the Bahia Government - define the information filters they wish to seek. The algorithm then begins to search the data sources to understand the exposure of the client in public opinion.
The Government of Bahia, for example, recently used Knewin to understand how the population was seeing the state's actions in combating the pandemic.
In the most sophisticated versions of its service, Knewin also adds an extra layer of data curatorship (in which a team of analysts cleans and classifies the information generated by the software), and an analytics solution, crossing information and creating graphs to show trends and generate hypotheses.
Lucas, the CEO and co-founder, explains that to capture offline data, such as local radio broadcasts, Knewin builds its own hardware in partnership with regional providers.
"We assemble several of these physical devices that capture the [radio] signal, throw that signal into the cloud and then do the translation from voice to text," he told the Brazil Journal. "If there's someone complaining about a brand that we serve on a small radio in the interior, for example, we'll be able to capture that.
Lucas says that the capitalization will be used mainly for acquisitions of companies that will complement the product portfolio - a strategy that has been central to Knewin's growth. The startup has already made eleven acquisitions, both to increase the client portfolio and to add new technologies and services.
Agora, a Knewin quer entrar nos serviços de ‘newsroom’, que permite que empresas criem plataformas abertas a jornalistas onde postam textos e vídeos; distribuição de conteúdo por email para jornalistas (dominado por empresas como I'Max e Comunique-se); e de business intelligence.
Outro plano: comprar uma empresa que já tenha uma carteira de clientes relevante no México, onde começou a operar recentemente.
“Eles criaram uma base de dados muito robusta que os coloca numa posição extremamente defensiva: qualquer empresa que quiser entrar no mercado vai ter o custo alto de montar esse dataset,” diz Jorge Steffens, o fundador da Oria Capital. “Esse é um setor que é quase um monopólio onde o primeiro a entrar normalmente é quem ganha".