13th July 2018
David Benigson

Scaling-up Signal; the next growth phase and the four M’s

While the ink was drying on the Series B agreements, the Signal Media leadership team were finalising and formalising plans for the next 18 months. As intense and exhausting as funding rounds are, closing one signifies the start of the hard work, not the end. Series B is all about gaining market share, growing the business and capitalising on the opportunities created so far. Funding and support from investors puts us in the position to take our product and brand into new territories, and nothing excites me more than this chance to further delight our existing clients and continue to expand our customer base.

We’re now well and truly in the scale-up phase of Signal, working hard to build upon our successes to date with a focus on product development and establishing ourselves in the US market. Our scale-up strategy is based on what I’m calling the four M’s: measurement, management, machine learning and momentum. The application of these four components will not only rocket propel our product offering but also ensure we are working effectively and efficiently as a team. It’s imperative that we concentrate our efforts on the right things but also that we approach our work in the right way.

Here’s what the four M’s mean for Signal both in terms of our product and our plans as a company during this next phase of growth:

– Measurement

The Insights dashboard and comparison tool we launched in April is giving clients greater visibility into the performance of their business and communications strategy. We aim to go further providing insight that goes way beyond coverage, reach, prominence and finally consign AVE into the history books of PR measurement where it belongs. The Insights dashboard also paves the way to discovering and analysing trends, threats and market opportunities that have a far wider business impact. We want business leaders to be able to understand the impact of their key messages, spot, size and manage risks and opportunities and effectively determine and communicate where and how they are adding value.

From an internal company perspective, I’ve always got one eye on our measurement dashboard (AOV, quota, lead time, conversion rate, churn rate etc.) to ensure everything is trending in the right direction. That adage “what gets measured gets managed” certainly rings true for me. Our year-on-year revenue growth in 2017/18 was 300%, and this was achieved through sheer hard work and a relentless unblinking focus on the numbers and hitting our targets.

– Management

Organisations are using Signal to manage more than their reputation, and we are continually identifying, evaluating and working on new use cases for the Signal platform based on feedback from our clients and stakeholders. We are expanding into risk management (with content for tax and regulatory compliance) and opportunity management (through M&A and business development content). And we’re transitioning further into the decision support tool market to help even more senior leaders make better-informed business decisions.

In the last 12 months, we’ve doubled our headcount, and with new starters joining Signal every week, we have to ensure our people management and performance management skills are top-notch. Employees need to be swiftly on-boarded and adding value by contributing to the success of the company as well as for their own career success. To achieve great things you need great people and a management team who can motivate and mentor their teams to shared success.

– Machine learning

We’re at the forefront of developing machine learning and text analytics techniques that cut-through millions of documents and make sense of their contents. Through the application of these techniques, we accurately analyse, categorise and contextualise online and print articles plus broadcast transcripts from over 2.8 million global sources within seconds of them hitting our system. Over the last few months, we’ve been marrying this capability with new broader content sets that enable us to go beyond reputation management and media monitoring use cases. Our data scientists are continually training our AI to classify new topics of interest and label more organisations and people. The team are also developing new data visualisation techniques to support our clients evolving needs and create new lines of business.

We’re also working on solutions to two long-standing industry-wide challenges; quote detection and sentiment analysis. Using our technology to accurately attribute comments to individuals provides our clients with an additional layer of intelligence on influencers, commentators and stakeholders as well as ensuring their spokespeople are relaying the correct key messages. Sentiment by its very nature is subjective and therefore extremely difficult to accurately categorise by any means. We are exploring new ways to automate sentiment analysis in a contextually relevant way that enables our clients to take a snapshot of brand perception and track changes over time.

– Momentum

It’s critical as the business gets bigger that we don’t get sluggish. We’ve achieved a huge amount in the first half of the year with our Series B funding, winning some amazing new clients, the launch of our Insights dashboard, receiving the award for Hottest Enterprise/SaaS/B2B Startup at The Europas, hiring more top talent and TV appearances on the BBC and Sky. But there’s no room for complacency. However, it’s a different speed. It’s not a scrappy startup 100m sprint to the finish line. It’s sustaining a pace that’s uncomfortable but achievable over a much longer distance. We’ve matured as a business and need stability as well as agility, so all our successes are measurable, repeatable and scalable.

We’re investing in product development. We’re diversifying into new markets and growing the business in every way possible. These are truly exciting times for Signal. I can’t wait to get stuck into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and reflect upon our new achievements at the end of the year.

Want to see the Signal platform for yourself? Our AI-powered media monitoring, reputation management and market intelligence solution. You can request a demo here.

Or are you looking for a job in a successful startup? We are always on the lookout for talented people to join our growing team. You can check out our current vacancies here.