Big data is a buzzword.
The sentence suggests that the analysis and utilisation of large masses of information in a new way is a possibility that many believe in right now.
One of these is the serial entrepreneur Hannu Verkasalo.
"I avoid using that term, as it is used in so many meanings – too many, and incorrectly", Verkasalo says.
Nevertheless, Verto Analytics, which he set up, has built a product which combines big data and traditional market research science.
Verasalo, who has a doctorate in technology, had previously founded Zokem, which was sold to the American company Arbitron, which in turn was sold to the market research company Nielsen. The goal of Zokem was to build technology making it possible to use mobile devices in the production of market research. The main product was the technology itself.
After Zokem, Verkasalo's activities have included investing, with investments in targets such as Bitbar, which developed the Android testing platform and the doctor finding application BetterDoctor.
Tekes funded product development
Even now Verkasalo is approaching market research, but this time from the point of view of digital measurement activities.
"I have pondered that the next leading companies in the market research field will be companies with great technology and a team, but also an ability to pass on information and data to customers. On that basis it is possible to build a longer-term competitive edge.
Verkasalo started to build these kinds of solutions in Verto Analytics, which was set up in early 2013.
In the same year the company got a product development loan from Tekes, with which the team started to develop products.
"One reason why we want to build our companies in Finland is the funding that was offered by Tekes to growth companies in their early stages. Naturally, Finland's magnificent resources and environment for developing such products are important."
Tekes provides R&D loans or assistance to companies that have established and proved a need on the market for the product to be developed.
Combining several sources of information
Verto Analytics used the funding to develop a product that is already on the market. The service combines information from two kinds of sources. The company's service includes information gathered by traditional methods of market research, such as panels, but Verto Analytics combines this with big data collected in different ways on line.
"Our most important IPR is how we combine this panel-based research information with big data."
In this way the company resolves problems and restrictions which several equivalent services have. According to Verkasalo, information that is on offer is often inadequate: it is based excessively on soft data from polls and the information is dispersed.
The business model is based on annual fees instead of individual reports. Veto Analytics already has customers, but the funding package of under EUR 4 million, made public in the spring of 2014, allows for the speedy expansion of the customer base.
Verkasalo says that in the next 12–18 months the focus will move from product development to marketing and sales.
"It is our purpose to build an annual turnover of five million euros through very aggressive work, primarily in the USA."
In 2015 the company plans to collect the next round of funding.
"However, the vision of all of the founders is to ultimately list the company on the stock exchange by 2020. There is a long way to go before that happens, and many steps need to be taken, but with this team and these products, the possibilities are good!", Verkasalo says.
hannu.verkasalo (at) vertoanalytics.com