Knewin – a startup that monitors brands’ reputations using artificial intelligence – has just raised R$40 million to expand its product portfolio through acquisitions and accelerate its international expansion.
The check for the first round came from Oria Capital, a private equity firm focused on SaaS (software as a service) companies. Oria has already invested in Gupy, in hiring; Pixeon, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for hospitals; and in Zenvia for conversational commerce. This is the third fundraiser since Knewin was founded in 2011.
Since then, the startup has raised another R$16.5 million from KPTL and Invisto, both venture capital managers. Founded in Florianópolis by two computer scientists Lucas Nazário and Fabiano Beppler, Knewin brings technology to an industry that lacks innovation: PR agencies and press offices.
Until recently, these companies monitored their customers the old-fashioned way: one person would read the news on major communications media and select the articles from which their customers were quoting.
Knewin has developed an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of monitoring 1.2 million different sources of information in real time – from websites and social networks to radio and TV channels – and generating more than 10 terabytes of data per day.
The startup serves about a thousand clients who pay a monthly fee to access the platform and have earned around R$30 million in 2020. The goal for this year is to double sales to reach R$ 70 million.
In practice, Knewin’s clients – agencies like the FSB, corporations like Petrobras, and public institutions like the Bahia government – choose the information filters they want to search. The algorithm then starts sifting through the data sources to understand how the customer is exposed to public opinion. The government of Bahia, for example, recently used Knewin to understand how the population assesses the state’s approach to combating the pandemic.
In more complex versions of its service, Knewin also adds an additional layer of data organization (where a team of analysts cleans and sorts the information generated by the software), solving analyses, iterating over information and creating charts to show trends and generate hypotheses.
To collect offline data like local radio broadcasts, Knewin builds its own hardware in partnership with regional service providers, explains CEO and co-founder Lucas. “We built several of these physical devices that take the [radio] signal, throw that signal into the cloud, and then translate it from audio to text,” he told Brazil Journal.
“For example, if someone complains about a brand that we’re launching at a small indoor radio station, we can address that.” According to Lucas, the capitalization will be used primarily for corporate acquisitions that will complement the product portfolio — a strategy that will support the growth of Knewin was central.
Artificial Intelligence: The startup has already made 11 acquisitions, both to expand its customer base and to add new technologies and services. Now Knewin wants to jump into “newsroom” services, which allow companies to create open platforms for journalists to post texts and videos; Distributing content to journalists via email (dominated by companies such as I’Max and Comunique-se); and business intelligence.
Another plan: Buy a company that already has a relevant customer base in Mexico, where it recently started. “They have built a very strong database, which puts them in a very defensive position: any company that wants to enter the market is going to have a high cost of compiling that data set,” says Jorge Steffens, founder of Oria Capital. “This is an almost monopolistic industry where the first to get in is usually the winner.”