Robert Stalmach, Ph.D., Founder & CEO of Newspoint tells us about how they created an online media monitoring and analytics platform.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Robert Stalmach: So far, fortunately, all our relatives are well. Fortunately, also among our friends, no cases of severe Covid have occurred. On the other hand, we are all tired of the restrictions, prohibitions, and orders we deal with every day.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Newspoint.
Robert Stalmach: My career began 20 years ago in consulting, where I dealt with tax advisory and accounting audits. It was definitely not my dream job 🙂 The turn of the millennium was the crazy time of the first wave of internet popularity. I also got carried away and ended up in a media corporation, where I dealt with new ventures, mergers, acquisitions, internet business development, mobile services, and finally founded a content licensing department for various platforms from scratch. Then we noticed that from the customer’s point of view, it would be much more functional to have access to all relevant content, not just from one publisher, in one place. What’s more, conversations with clients indicated that they would like to be able to analyze online volumes of publications over time, sentiment, Share of Voice, the value of communication, reaches, impact, contexts, etc. This is how the idea of building an online media monitoring and analytics platform was born – i.e., Newspoint.
How does Newspoint innovate?
Robert Stalmach: The industry in which we operate requires that innovation be encoded in the company’s DNA. Our main areas of innovation are Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. We use solutions from these fields to teach algorithms for better speech recognition and automatic transcriptions, to improve the evaluation of the sentiment and context of publications, to assess the gender of authors, and to estimate the similarity of materials. We currently index over 15 billion documents from 50 million sources in 75 languages. This is a huge challenge for hardware and software so that the applications we develop are efficient, stable, fast, friendly, and not too expensive to maintain. R&D in the field of Machine Learning and automatic software optimization also helps us in this.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Robert Stalmach: I hope it doesn’t sound bad, but it’s good for our business finances. Coronavirus has caused a rapid increase in the popularity of online services, and the difficulty in managing teams of people on-site prompts companies to use outsourcing of many tasks to a greater extent than before, especially those not constituting the core business. This is good news for us because access to our services can be obtained remotely, without the need for personal contact. In addition to media monitoring services, which are so important in difficult crisis times, we also offer research and analytical services that we provide remotely communicating with customers online.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Robert Stalmach: Luckily not. At the very beginning of the pandemic, we experienced a short period of panic and irrational decisions by some clients, and indeed then the situation wasn’t cool. But fortunately, it only lasted a few weeks and was not repeated in the later stages of the pandemic. We are currently recruiting and are still looking for talents who want to develop big data analyses, comprehensive media monitoring, and influencer analytics.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Robert Stalmach: I think that, as in most dynamic new technology companies around the world, we work almost 100% remotely, we meet within the company and with our clients online, and we have organized the entire client onboarding process so that it does not require personal contacts. As for the CRM systems themselves, we use various – both external suppliers and those developed by us.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Robert Stalmach: Yes, we benefited from indirect support (tax relief) in the initial period of the pandemic. However, these were relatively small amounts, and in retrospect, we can assess that they were not crucial for keeping the business afloat. Nevertheless, we appreciate the state’s initiative in this regard, and we know many entities among our clients for whom government support programs have turned out to be the only chance for survival.
Your final thoughts?
Robert Stalmach: Probably I won’t be original, but I would like to wish us all health and a little more patience in safely reaching the end of the pandemic. With the focus on purpose and dedication of so many people around the world, we already have effective vaccines, and every day we are closer to the breaking point of the virus’s ability to spread out of control. This is very optimistic news after a year of uncertainty and anxiety. After the storm, the sun always comes out, and we must be 100% prepared for this moment.