The Dutch-Serbian media analytics company Smartocto raised a new post-seed round from the Sofia-based HR Capital, North Base Media (NBS), Eleven Capital, NEVEQ, and seven business angels from the digital sectors. The exact amount of the investment is not disclosed. Erik Van Heeswijk, CEO of Smartocto, shares that together with the latest round, the company has raised a total of €5M.
The angel investors in the round are Pressian Karakostov, former CEO of PubGalaxy, Darin Madzharov, co-founder of Ucha.se, Hristo Tenchev, co-founder of SoftUni, Oggy Popov, CEO at Offerista Group Bulgaria, Denislav Georgiev and Velizar Velichkov from 1ForFit.
The investment will be used for the development of its AI-powered solution Smartify which is aimed to help editorial teams have more data-driven decision-making processes. According to Erik Van Heeswijk, the round is a result of the growth that the company has experienced, doubling up its revenue and investing heavily in sales and marketing a couple of years in a row.
“With Smartify, our latest feature, we are able not only to help editors in content analytics but go one step further and assist them in the decision-making processes. The solution resembles a virtual chief editor and I believe that is the next paradigm in content analytics. It is exactly this opportunity that is particularly appealing to investors,“ Erik Van Heeswijk highlights.
“Coming from the media industry, our team recognized the impact that Smartify has had on increasing the competitive advantage of publishers. That is why HR Capital will support the company not only with financing but also through other means in their journey to grow globally,” Hristo Hristov, Founder and CEO of HR Capital, comments. Hristo Hristov will also be joining the Board of Directors of Smartocto.
Smartocto’s story value engine
The main goal of the platform is to help editorial teams better understand the performance of stories and their audience’s behavior. Smartocto enables newsrooms to learn from historical data and act on real-time events, as well as make accurate predictions of how specific stories, topics, or authors are most likely to perform.
Therefore, the Story Value Engine product of Smartocto is able to calculate based on historical and real-time data points what is the expected rate of a particular story. Then, by leveraging predictive analytics, the engine is also able to offer editors insights about how to optimize their online presence.
The value proposition of Smartocto is relevant for publishers, newsrooms, broadcasters, journalists, storytellers, social media content creators, content marketers, and SEO professionals. The platform is able to guide these stakeholders through each of the stages in the story life cycle, namely defining their brand identity and their audiences, discovering relevant news stories and content niches, optimizing their content for better search and visibility, as well as choosing the best distribution channels, optimize their content once it is published and report of its performance.
Changing editorial analytics with AI
The company has recognized that even though content intelligence is essential in the modern newsroom, research points out that journalists and storytellers struggle to optimally leverage the analytics tools they have available. This is because the regular newsroom teams lack the skills, the knowledge, and the time to interpret the vast amount of data they gather, and to transform them into actionable insights.
This is where the AI product of Smartocto, Smartify, comes into play. The decision-making system provides newsrooms with AI-powered advice to let them make the most optimal decision based on their goals for content reach and engagement. The technology is flexible and can be adjusted to the needs of editorial teams to equip them with features such as notifications, daily widgets, and summaries.
Smartocto has been doing a proof of concept (PoC) of Smartify for a couple of months, and currently, the solution has been implemented in five different publishing companies. Now the team is focused on perfecting and optimizing the UX and UI designs and is preparing for an official launch in the next couple of weeks.
The journey of Smartocto
The company is a result of the merger of two European startups – the Serbian Content Insights and the Dutch SmartOcto, which were both focused on predicting the conversion of content, and calculating real-time actionable tips.
Content Insights, which was co-founded by Dejan Nikolic and based in Novi Sad, went through the Eleven Accelerator back in 2014. The company developed the so-called Content Performance Indicator algorithm, which focused on real audience behavior. Likewise, the Dutch SmartOcto was focused on the same domain, using data to improve the performance of stories of newsrooms and media brands. The catalyst for the merger of the two startups was a request of a joint customer.
Previously, the company was backed by a consortium of investors (some the same as in the new round) – North Base Media, South Central Ventures, Eleven, NEVEQ, and V-ventures. Now, the company will use the latest round to invest in R&D to bring its AI-powered product on market, as well as to boost its sales and marketing. Erik Van Heeswijk shares that Smartocto is preparing to raise a bigger round in 2023.