As an accredited PR practitioner and Director of a PR agency, Chris Johnston was fully aware of the impact of marketing and how to manage and protect the reputation of a brand. However with the explosion of online information and having always wanted to start his own company, Chris decided to turn his marketing insights into an exciting new business opportunity with the help of Invest Northern Ireland.
“Understanding the impact of marketing and the decisions that people make to engage in it is something that is more of an art from than a science,” explains Chris. “This is something that I have grabbled with since getting involved in marketing and now with so much information online I saw a fantastic opportunity to use this data to glean insights into consumers’ hearts and minds.”
Chris created Mediasights Ltd to develop a new online software tool which could save marketers time, by providing real time collection of media data; and help them make better decisions by having market intelligence and insights available at the click of a button. What’s more it could save them money too through the benefits of customised software, on average £25k per year.
Although Chris had the marketing expertise to promote his idea he needed access to resources which would allow him to test and experiment the new software in a way that would not be possible during full time employment. Being accepted on to Invest NI’s Propel programme gave Chris the opportunity to explore his business concept and provided him with access to investors and contacts in relevant markets
“Taking part in Propel has allowed me to focus on the innovation of the technology which underpins the product and engage experts to refine my idea” says Chris. “The Propel team strongly encourage you to go out into export markets to validate the product, which can be daunting, but it’s very satisfying to engage with potential customers and get feedback to develop the product”.
Through Propel Chris was able to secure a small amount of seed money from E-Synergy which enabled him to build a prototype to illustrate the concept to potential customers from Australia to Minneapolis.
“The value of the Propel network and contacts has been immense,” says Chris. “After just one meeting with an entrepreneur in Dublin I was demonstrating the technology to the head of marketing of the world’s leading manufacturer of technologies for computers in San Francisco a few days later.
Other opportunities such as attending a trade mission with Invest NI to South by South West has allowed me to secure a number of beta customers for the product and also an invite to speak at Advertising Week in New York. These connections that I have developed will hopefully turn into revenue generating opportunities in the months and years ahead.”
Chris has a number of international companies already signed up to use the software and the final version will be ready for launch to target markets after robust market testing has been completed.