37 results

The Power of Qualified Research That Companies Can Trust

Research is invaluable. Companies need research on prospective and current customers to analyze trends, evaluate purchasing decisions, and produce the best products that they can. Customers need research on what to buy, where to buy, and who to buy it from. Phonic is a research software startup with a mission to break down the barriers between quantitative and qualitative research to allow businesses to collect genuine insights at a scale that they can trust. Phonic CTO Mitch Catoen says that the pain point the company is addressing revolves around scaling. “Qualitative research is really good, and yields really good information, but it doesn’t scale quite like quantitative research does,” Catoen explains. The key, Catoen says, is that Phonic takes an analytics-first approach.“When we think about emotional intelligence, multimodal sentiment, and tag extraction, these are things that were built for our research platform, and the research platform sits on top of them. The customers of Phonic know they can trust our analytics more than any other platform,” When it came time to decide how Phonic was going to build its technology, one of the most critical pieces the company wanted was a NoSQL database. Catoen wanted Phonic to pick a NoSQL database and a document-based database because Phonic was changing schema so frequently, and did not have a rigid data model from day one. For these reasons, Catoen says that working with MongoDB Atlas was "a pretty obvious choice." The decision to go with MongoDB meant that Catoen and other company leaders could spend their valuable time thinking about the business and how to provide actual business value for their customers. “With MongoDB, we effectively leverage the entire core feature set,” Catoen says. “We run a lot of aggregation pipelines, which are super, super useful with dealing with large amounts of data. We can scale up and down with our cluster to support more, and that’s been fantastic.” Phonic’s tech stack is pretty simple in order to keep developer velocity high, Catoen says, the same motivations the team had when picking its NoSQL database. Phonic runs a React frontend, a Python backend, communicates with their MongoDB cluster, and uses RabbitMQ for event streaming. Google Cloud has been a critical part of Phonic’s success, as well, Catoen says. Phonic utilizes its cloud functions on Google Cloud, including its storage for distributed file storage, and on App Engine because of Google Cloud’s auto-scaling, especially when the company gets hit with a jump in traffic overnight. As for plans for the future, Catoen says the company is looking for a Series A round of funding and will launch an asynchronous research product. “Building up this conversation intelligence suite is going to be very important to the Phonic ecosystem going forward,” Catoen says. “We’re very excited about that.” Learn more about the MongoDB for Startups program.

July 13, 2022

Built With MongoDB: Overcoming Employee Burnout Through Pioneera

Everyone can feel burned out from time to time. Working late hours to meet that project deadline, checking your phone on the weekend for any missed Slack messages from coworkers, an endless stream of Zoom calls — workplace stress can add up quickly and does not leave much room for taking care of yourself. With so much on your plate at any given time, it can be hard to pick up on the warning signs of burnout. One Australian startup has made its mission to prevent employees from reaching burnout with software trained to pick up on those warning signs and alert you. The application, Indie , from Australian startup Pioneera , sends personalized notifications in real time, when employees need them the most. Similar to a spellchecker, Indie helps individuals, teams, and companies prevent burnout. Built With MongoDB spoke with our 2022 MongoDB Savvy Startup Innovation Award winner , Danielle Owen Whitford , who founded Pioneera in 2018. Whitford discussed how she came up with the idea, how the software works, and what the future of Pioneera holds. Built With MongoDB: What is Pioneera all about? Danielle Owen Whitford: Pioneera uses early warning indicators to help reduce workplace stress and prevent burnout in a confidential and safe way. And when we see those early warning signs, helping that person get the help they need in real time to reduce their stress, promote wellness, improve productivity — all that good stuff. Essentially we are trying to use technology to prevent mental health issues in the workplace, which are rising at an alarming rate. Where did the names Pioneera and Indie come from? Our mission is to pioneer a new era of work, and it just came out as Pioneera! As for the name Indie, it’s actually named after my daughter. Our first MVP had a different name, and we had some mixed responses to the name. I was part of SheStarts, an accelerator program in Australia, and I was talking to my fellow founders about some of the experiences I had with my daughter and how she courageously called me out on working too hard. They said, “Why don’t you call the bot Indie?” Customers and users loved it, so Indie bot was a keeper. What are some examples of common stress signals that Indie picks up? We assess language, linguistic markers, and behaviors as the three key areas. From a language point of view, we see that there are certain types of words that are used within a workplace context that are exhibitors of stress. For example, when we’re stressed in real life, we say that we’re stressed, but at work we’re more likely to say, “I feel stretched.” And that’s a word that we have built into our scoring system, which we developed with a psychologist. On the positive side, we look for words like achievement and win. We also look for behavior — how we act in the workplace, particularly around our communication systems, because that’s where Indie sits. What made you decide to start Pioneera? I burned myself out in 2016. I spent 20 years in big companies and had a whole range of senior roles, from running retail networks and call centers to large-scale transformation. It’s not like I was hidden away in the organization — I reported into the executive team and was very visible, so we all saw the signs. I loved what I did, but I didn’t see the warning signs. I left because I felt like I had no other options. In hindsight I know that I did, but at the time, I just couldn't see past where I was at. That is a classic sign of burnout. I took a bit of time off. I started looking at my former colleagues and my peers, and I realized this burnout phenomenon was happening everywhere. I used to see emails from my team that said, “Here we go again” and “I don’t want to do this anymore.” My first degree was in psychology and my second was a Masters in Communication, so I instinctively responded to that language. So if I saw it, I would call them up and ask what was going on. My teams didn’t burn out and they always delivered. But clearly nobody had seen that for me, and I missed all the signs myself, so I burned out. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could automate that for everyone?” The naivete in me thought that if Microsoft created a spell-checker, surely it can’t be that hard to create a spell-checker for stress. We know the language is there — we’ve all gotten emails from people where we know they’re having a bad day. That’s what I set out to do, to take my 20 years of experience and turn that into how I could help prevent this burnout from happening. I wanted Indie to do for the world what I had done for my colleagues. Burnout happens at an individual level, but the impacts are pretty significant — not just for that person or their family, but also for the workplace and then for society in general. We’re seeing health care costs that are through the roof, and we’re going to see long-term impacts on the next generation in terms of the ability to educate. These serious social issues are something I knew I needed to turn my attention to. In terms of employees, can you explain who has access to what information? We’re obsessed with privacy and confidentiality, and it's built into every part of the product. Everything is done in a way that protects the confidentiality and privacy of the individual. We did a lot of user testing before we started building the product, and users said that they really love this and the fact that their company would buy this for them. So it contributed to an employer value proposition. But, and it is a big but, they did not want their boss to know that they were stressed, because they thought they’d miss out on a project or HR would contact them or something like that. So that feedback has become the core of everything we do. What does the future of Pioneera look like? We’ve really upped our game on patterns of behaviors that indicate action is needed and the tips we provide to encourage action. We have partnered with expert psychologists to deliver content that is evidence- and research-based and proven to work. We’ve revolutionized our user experience to build connection and trust from the first moment a user hears about Indie. We’re looking to scale internationally with our vision for everyone globally to have Indie’s personalized, real-time support. What have you enjoyed the most about building Pioneera? It feels like there’s real meaning to what we’re doing and we’re actually making a difference in people's lives. I’ll get a call from a customer who says they were headed toward burnout and Indie stopped them. Or a call from a team manager delighted that they acted on Indie’s recommendations and their team is thriving. That sort of thing is always delightful to hear. I feel like we’re doing something positive for the world. How has working with MongoDB enabled Pioneera to succeed? The way the database is set up and structured has enabled us to focus on the things that we need to focus on, because we know MongoDB has our back. We’re a technology company building innovative technology, and we need to deliver our product to the market in a scalable, reliable way. You can run the risk of building a great technology, but it’s not actually a product that solves a problem for customers because the product features aren’t delivering value. MongoDB does technology really well, and that’s what we use it for — to make sure we’re delivering great product features and value to the customer today and tomorrow. Learn more about using Pioneera to overcome employee burnout and find out more about our MongoDB for Startups program .

June 16, 2022

Collaborative User Story Mapping with Avion and MongoDB

When companies think about their products, they often fall into the trap of planning without truly considering their user’s journey and experience. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking about products from the customer's perspective. Avion was founded by James Sear and Tim Ramage with one thing in mind - to provide the most intuitive and enjoyable user story mapping experience for agile teams to use, from product inception to launch (and beyond). The key, Sear said, is that user story mapping gives you a way of thinking about your product and its features, typically software, from the perspective of your customers or users. This is facilitated by defining things that the user can do (user stories) within the context of your core user journeys. Built with MongoDB spoke with Sear about the idea of user story mapping, how he and Ramage started Avion, and what it’s been like to work with MongoDB. Built with MongoDB: What is Avion all about? James Sear : Avion is a digital user story mapping tool for product teams. It helps them to break down complexity, map out user journeys, build out the entire scope of their product and then decide what to deliver and in what order. It’s a valuable tool that is typically underused. Not everyone understands what story mapping is; as it’s quite a specific technique and you do have to put the time in to learn it in order to get the most out of it. But once you have, there is so much value to be unlocked, in terms of delivering better outcomes for your users, as opposed to just building stuff for the sake of it. Built with MongoDB: What made you decide to start Avion? Sear: My co-founder Tim Ramage and I met around 2014, and we were jointly involved in teams that were building lots of different software products for various companies, both big and small. And while we were very involved in their technical implementation, we were also both really interested in the product management side of delivery, because it’s just so crucial to be successful. That includes everything from UX decisions, product roadmapping prioritization, customer feedback, metrics, managing the team, it all really interested us. However, one thing that we found a particularly difficult part of the process, was taking your clients’ big ideas and translating them into some sort of actionable development plan. We tried a few different approaches for this, until we stumbled across a technique called user story mapping. User story mapping manages to pull together all of your core user journeys, the scope of all features that could be built, and how you plan to deliver them. On top of that, it conveys the order in which you should be working on things. Once you have this powerful asset, you can have effective conversations with your team, and answer the most important questions, such as—what’s the minimum we can build to make this valuable to users, where does this feature actually appear for our users or what we are going to build next, and why?. It really does allow you to communicate more effectively with stakeholders. For instance, you could use it to update your CEO and talk them through what you’re building now, answering those difficult questions like why you’re not building feature X or feature Y. You’ve got this outline right in front of you that makes sense to a product person, a developer, or even an outside stakeholder. Built with MongoDB: Initially, you started to build out a collaborative tool for product teams, and Avion has evolved into more. What else has changed in your journey at Avion? Sear: Our goal at launch was to provide our customers with a best-in-class story mapping experience in the browser. This meant nailing the performance and user interaction, so creating a story map just felt fluid and easy. After this, we focused on tightly integrating with more traditional backlog tools, like Jira and Azure DevOps. We always maintain that our customers shouldn’t have to give up their existing tooling to get value from Avion — so we built it to sit in the middle of their stack and assist them with planning and delivery. Built with MongoDB: What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced in such a crowded productivity space? Sear: It’s difficult to stick out amongst the crowd, but our unique value proposition is actually quite niche. This allows us to show our potential customers a different side of product planning that they might not have seen before. And for anyone that already knows about story mapping, Avion is an opinionated and structured canvas for them to just get work done and be productive quickly. Ultimately, we try to stick out by providing value in a vertical slice of product planning that is often overlooked. Built with MongoDB: What kind of experiences have you had working with MongoDB? Sear: There have been many scenarios where we’ve been debugging difficult situations with production scaling issues, and we just cannot work out why the apps have gone down overnight. There are so many tricky things that come up when you’re running in production. But we have always managed to find something in MongoDB Atlas that can help us just try and pinpoint that issue, whether it’s some usage graphs, or some kind of metrics that allows us to really dig down into the collections, the queries, and everything so MongoDB has been excellent for that in terms of features. It just gives you that peace of mind, we’ve had customers delete stuff of their own accord, and get really upset, but we’ve been able to help them by going back to snapshot backups and retrieving that data for them. From a customer support perspective, it’s massive to have that option on the table. MongoDB Atlas is really useful to us and we don’t have to configure anything, it’s just amazing. The MongoDB upgrades are completely seamless, and help us stay on the latest version of the database which is a huge win for security. Learn more about user story mapping with Avion , and start planning a more user-centric backlog. Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us on the MongoDB Startups page .

May 19, 2022

Semeris Demystifies Legal Documents Using MongoDB

Sorting through endless legal documents can be a time-consuming and burdensome process, but one startup says it doesn’t have to be that way. Semeris strives to demystify legal documentation by using the latest artificial intelligence and natural language processing techniques. Semeris’s goal is to put the information its customers need at their fingertips when and where they need it. Semeris aims to bring structure to capital market legal documents, while providing a first-class service to customers and blending together the disciplines of finance, law, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence. In this edition of Built with MongoDB, we talk with Semeris about how they use MongoDB Atlas Search to help customers analyze documents and extract data as quickly as possible. Built with MongoDB spoke with Semeris CEO, Peter Jasko , about his vision for the company, working with MongoDB, the company’s relationship with venture capital firm QVentures , and the value of data. In this video, Peter Jasko explains how MongoDB Atlas's fully managed service and support has been a key factor in helping Semeris scale. Built with MongoDB: Can you tell us about Semeris? Peter Jasko: We help our investor banking and lawyer clients analyze legal documentation. We help them extract information from the documentation that they look at. A typical transaction might have 500 to 1,000 pages of documentation, and we help them to analyze that really quickly and pull out the key information that they need to be able to review that documentation within a couple hours, rather than the 7 or 8 hours it would normally take. Built with MongoDB: What is the value of data in your space? Peter: Data is essential in what we do because we build models around the publicly available documentation that we see. We store that data, we analyze it, we build machine learning models around it, and then we use that to analyze less seen documentation or more private documentation that our clients have internally. Built with MongoDB: How has your partnership with QVentures helped Semeris? Peter: Our partnership with QVentures is not just a financial one where they’ve invested some money into our firm; they’ve also helped us uncover contacts within the market. They introduced us to the MongoDB partnership that has helped us get some credits and build out our technology onto the MongoDB platform. Built with MongoDB: What has it been like using MongoDB’s technology? Peter: We chose MongoDB because it’s a scalable solution, and it has a strong developer following. It’s easier for us to hire tech developers who understand the technology because MongoDB has such a strong following in the community. If we have small issues with the technology, we’re very quickly able to search and find the answer to learn how we need to resolve that. Additionally, scalability is really important to us. And, what we found is that the MongoDB platform scales both in compute and also in storage seamlessly. We get a notification that more storage is required, and we can upgrade that online and with no customer impact and no downtime. It's really, really seamless. Another reason we chose MongoDB is that it’s cloud agnostic. We're on AWS now, but we're almost certainly at some point going to be asked from customers to look at Azure or Google. So it's really beneficial to us that MongoDB works on all the different platforms that we look at. Built with MongoDB: What are some of the features you use within MongoDB? Peter: We use MongoDB Atlas Search because of its ability to retrieve thousands of data points from multiple documents. We use the indexing capability there, and the key thing that we find is that our customers want to retrieve thousands of data points from multiple different documents. A lot of our customers are analysts or investment portfolio managers, and they want that information in their hands as quickly as possible. Built with MongoDB: What is some advice you’d give to aspiring founders and CEOs? Peter: Try lots of things and try them quickly. Try lots of little spikes, and take the ones that work well, and eventually put those into production. Really focus on what your customers want. Ultimately, we tried a lot of different ideas, some of which we thought were great. But you have to put it in front of your customers to be able to decide which ones are really worth spending time on and putting into production quality and which ones you should just let fall by the wayside as research done but not ultimately used. Find out more about Semeris Docs . Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Check out our Startups page .

May 4, 2022

Finding The Right Career Move Thanks to Flexa and MongoDB

Anyone who has ever searched for a job knows just how frustrating the process can be. Whether you’re switching companies in the same industry, searching for something completely different, or a little bit of both, it’s difficult to find the right fit. Thankfully, Flexa was built to make that process smoother for employees and companies alike. Flexa was designed with one simple mission - bring flexible working to everyone. The company says it isn’t as simple as asking every company to tick a box; Flexa understands that flexibility means something different to everyone. Flexa is here to provide some clarity to help everyone find work that works for them. MongoDB for Startups spoke with Flexa’s CEO and co-founder Molly Johnson-Jones, co-founder Maurice O'Brien, and CTO & co-founder, Tim Leppard, to discuss their company, their investment partner QVentures , and the MongoDB for Startups program. MongoDB for Startups: What exactly is Flexa? Johnson-Jones: Flexa is an employer brand and talent acquisition platform. What we do is help companies get discovered for their brilliant working environments. It could be flexible working, dog friendly offices, enhanced parental leave. That's all searchable and filterable by our users and it means that we're bringing transparency to the global job hunting market. You'll know exactly what it's like to start at a company before you've even applied there, not at the end of an interview process. Flexa's mission is to bring true transparency to the global job hunting process, meaning that you could be in New York looking for a job in London and you would know that you could bring your dog and work from home whenever you wanted and travel around the world at your next company. MongoDB for Startups: How has Flexa changed or pivoted since its inception? Johnson-Jones: The initial vision for Flexa was actually pretty different to what we do today. When we first launched in February 2020, we were more of what you'd call a pure job platform. We found companies, we verified them as flexible through our two stage benchmarking process. But then we focused much more on specific individual jobs and whether they were flexible. You'd come on a site like Indeed or LinkedIn and you'd apply and you'd apply through Flexa. But we started to realize that actually the problem was much bigger than just individual jobs. It should be tackled at a company level. Providing transparency on a company level all over the world and looking more at culture and purpose and working environment was the right way to go. People didn't need to apply to more jobs in more places, they needed a reference to something that would enable them to actually find transparency and to know exactly what it was like to work at a company, not just a specific job for reactive hiring. MongoDB for Startups: Can you speak about the partnership Flexa has with QVentures? O’Brien: Our partnership with QVentures has been very important for us in terms of our scaling. QVentures actually led the very first funding round that we did. It's been huge for us in our growth. It gave us the capacity to hire more people, to market our products, and to build brand awareness and reach out to a much wider user base than we would have had the chance to otherwise. MongoDB for Startups: How has QVentures helped in Flexa’s growth? O’Brien: QVentures has helped us in a number of ways, aside from just obviously financially. They provide a lot of advice for us, whether that's strategic or hiring. They've also been great for introductions on the B2B side, so some of our Flexified clients have come through QVentures. They're always willing to help out with spreading the word around general brand awareness pieces that we do, like webinars, which is really helpful for us as a growing business. MongoDB for Startups: How has MongoDB enabled you to not only build out but also scale the business? Leppard: At Flexa, we collect data on the flexibility and employee benefits of companies, and the desires of our users, and the requirements they have for their new roles. MongoDB offers the ability for us to rapidly change the data we collect. The world of work is changing all the time, whether it’s the benefits, the flexible working practices that people expect or the change in company offerings, and we need to adapt to those very quickly. MongoDB has allowed us to adapt and scale very rapidly with those things in mind. MongoDB for Startups: What has your experience been with the scalability of MongoDB? Leppard: When it comes to scalability, we decided to use MongoDB Atlas. There's plenty of things to think about when you're founding a company, and infrastructure and operations is one that you want to try and minimize. Atlas gives us the ability to scale as we need to and scaling has been pretty painless as the company has grown. MongoDB for Startups: What features have you leveraged on MongoDB Atlas? Leppard: One of the features we use is MongoDB Atlas's text search features. This has been huge for us. It allows us to offer search for companies and jobs to our users, and to really offer a very accurate text search for people looking for particular requirements and flexibility options. MongoDB for Startups: What are the compliance needs for your data? Leppard: At Flexa, we store users' personal information, and so security is very important to us. Our GDPR requirements are very important to us, and MongoDB Atlas gives us the security that we need, so we don't have to worry about compliance. Additionally, MongoDB alleviates the concern of maintaining compliance as things change overtime. Interested in understanding how your company's working environment measures up against the market? Take Flexa’s free quiz to find out! Interested in learning more abour MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here .

April 20, 2022

QVentures and MongoDB Partner to Support the Next Generation of B2B SaaS Founders

No matter the industry, every startup begins with the same thing — an idea. The challenge is taking that idea and manifesting it into the real world with real world customers. To build a highly scalable and successful venture you need the right funding partner. Every startup needs investment, but what founders must understand is that what is truly paramount to their future success is finding the right funding partner who will be a value add, and not just a capital injection. VC’s such as QVentures fit that mold of being a value addition to the success of a startup’s journey. QVentures is a venture capital firm that provides direct investment opportunities and fund management to take companies from Seed to Series B. Together, MongoDB for Startups and QVentures offer prospective companies their best path forward towards becoming successful. MongoDB’s Startup Partnership Manager Julian Busch spoke with QVentures’ Head of Origination Alex Cochand and Managing Partner Robert Walsh to discuss their company and its partnership with MongoDB for Startups. What is your overall mission at QVentures? Alex Cochand: Our mission is really twofold. From our perspective, one of the major reasons that businesses fail is through a lack of funding. And really that's a discovery problem. Those companies struggle to find interested, active, and supportive investors that buy into their mission. And we support that discovery. Robert Walsh: The mission of QVentures is to work very closely with our investors, who are family offices and UHNWIs, and bring them together with entrepreneurs and founders of businesses between the levels of seed to series B. We very much focus on looking at tech companies for the next generation of investments. The family offices we work very closely with are often the first generation investing into venture capital and are able to pass on their experience to support founders in ways outside of capital. Do you have an investment thesis when investing in startups? Walsh: Our thesis is to invest into enterprise SaaS, marketplaces, B2B enterprise SaaS, and B2B consumer tech businesses that are highly scalable with next generational founders. What advice would you give founders when thinking about fundraising with a VC? Cochand: Start fundraising early. Everyone thinks that it’s going to be a very quick process, you're going to meet the investor of your dreams, and you'll have cash in your bank within a couple of weeks. The reality is that no matter who you are and no matter how great your business is, it always takes longer than you want. There's always more process. There are always hiccups. And you need to make sure that you have more than enough runway to make it through to the end of your fundraise. Are you seeing trends or frequent mistakes that founders make when engaging QVentures? Cochand: Selling the product rather than the business. You sell individual functionalities of the thing that you're building because that's what you're doing day-to-day. Your eyes are directly on building out the product that you want to take out to the market. Instead, when you're speaking to investors, you need to be pitching the mission, the business, and what the opportunity for scale and growth is. Walsh: Being a founder is very difficult. Mistakes are something that I don't think is a fair statement. I would say, we do see trends. We see people who have ideas that might not be good businesses to invest in and who can become very frustrated with that. More importantly, we look for is industry leaders, who are looking to bring technology into new markets. What value do corporate partnerships, like with MongoDB for Startups, bring to the founders in your portfolio? Cochand: We see a huge amount of value in partnerships. It allows us to take the value-add that we offer to our startups to a completely new level. We're very good at the fundraising piece, and that's where we offer our value to the startups that we work with. Through partnering with companies like MongoDB and others, we're able to take that to the 10x. Walsh: What surprised me about our initial partnership, is that companies at various stages in their growth journey are engaging with MongoDB. We’ve seen multiple companies from our Pre-Seed Fund find great value in MongoDB’s services, as well as our portfolio companies who are at later stages. This shows that there's a value in this technology. So focusing again on startup founders, building companies from scratch, finding value in the MongoDB platform, what role does data play in that space? Walsh: Data is a very important piece of the puzzle when you're evaluating a company, because there isn't that much real IP in the idea. It's how you track it, and it's quite frankly execution, and what can you do to learn off of that data. A founder who doesn't use data is a founder who might miss something. Cochand: If we look at where the biggest technological changes are coming from, where the real value is being driven at the moment, a lot of that is coming through technologies, particularly in the ML and AI space. And what drives those, and what enables you to differentiate, is through proprietary access to data. And that's where the real value is with that. If you can mine it in a way that it's accessible and usable, and store in a way that you can then easily access and run your models off of, you're always going to be a step ahead of your competition. Where do you see QVentures in 10 years or do you predict any macro changes in the VC landscape? Walsh: QVentures in 10 years will probably have several billion of assets under management. And I also see the venture capital industry here changing tremendously due to the macro themes that are following the US, such as pension funds will start entering into macro. If you think of the amount of long duration and high yielding assets, I see venture capital following the private equity move of the 90s. So if you look at the KKR and Apollo or anything like that you're going to see QVentures as part of that next wave. Cochand: Where we want to take QVentures in the next 10 years is becoming a hub for access to the venture capital and the tech community for predominantly family offices and ultra high net worths. No matter how they want to invest, no matter how they want to interact with startups, they can come through QVentures for that. If they want to come through a fund structure, if they want to invest directly into singular businesses, or if they want to look at things like venture debt or managed accounts, we have a product offering that we can pass out to them. Title of the document table, th, td { padding: 10px; border: 1px solid black; border-collapse: collapse; } Takeaways for Founders: Start fundraising early “Everyone thinks that there's going to be a very quick process. You're going to meet the investor of your dreams, and you'll have cash in your bank within a couple of weeks,” Cochand said. “The reality is that no matter who you are and no matter how great your business is, it always takes longer than you want. There's always more process. There are always hiccups. And you just want to make sure that you have more than enough runway to make sure that you make it through to the end of your funding event.” Do your own VC diligence prior to engaging Founders should always do their diligence prior to engaging VC’s. Understand the investment thesis of a VC before reaching out. For example, as Robert stated, “Our thesis is to invest into enterprise SaaS, marketplaces, B2B enterprise SaaS, and B2B consumer tech businesses that are highly scalable with next generational founders.” If you are a CPG startup, QVentures would not be a likely investment target for you to engage with. Do not waste your valuable time or the VC’s by reaching out even when they do not invest in your space. When pitching VC’s, don't sell your product, sell your business “Common mistakes that I see founders make when they come to fundraise is selling the product rather than the business,” Cochand said. “You sell individual functionalities of the thing that you're building because that's what you're doing day to day. Your eyes are directly on building out the product that you want to take out to the market. Instead, when you're speaking to investors, you need to be pitching the mission, the business, and what the opportunity for scale and growth is.” Title of the document table, th, td { padding: 10px; border: 1px solid black; border-collapse: collapse; } Takeaways for VC’s: Build value add partnerships with corporations who can fill knowledge gaps in your team “We see a huge amount of value in partnerships. It allows us to take the value-add that we offer to our startups to a completely new level,” Cochand said. “We're very good at the fundraising piece, and that's where we offer our value to the startups that we work with. Through partnering with companies like MongoDB and others, we're able to take that to the 10x.” A prediction on the shifting VC Landscape: “I also see the venture capital industry here changing tremendously due to the macro themes that are following the US, such as pension funds will start entering into macro,“ Walsh said. “If you think of the amount of long duration and high yielding assets, I see venture capital following the private equity move of the 90s. So if you look at the KKR and Apollo or anything like that you're going to see QVentures as part of that next wave.” When looking at potential investment opportunities, VC’s should look for founders who understand and leverage data “Data is a very important piece of the puzzle when you're evaluating a company,” Walsh said. “Because there isn't that much real IP in an idea. It's how you track it, and it's quite frankly execution, and what you do to learn off of that data. A founder who doesn't use data is a founder who might miss something.” Don't be that founder not leveraging their data. Sign up for the MongoDB for Startups program today.

April 6, 2022

Ultrahuman and MongoDB Partner to Raise Fitness Awareness

The need to be as healthy as possible is more evident now than ever before. Thanks to modern technology, resources on eating clean, exercising, and finding valuable tips for taking good care of your body have never been more accessible. Ultrahuman is a metabolic fitness startup based in India to help its users become the healthiest version of themselves. The platform is designed to measure the impact of food, activity, sleep and stress on your body with the help of glucose biomarkers. The company was founded in 2020 by Vatsal Singhal and Mohit Kumar and has snowballed since its inception. Built with MongoDB spoke with Vatsal about how Ultrahuman was conceived, his experience working with MongoDB, and his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Built with MongoDB: What is Ultrahuman? Vatsal: Ultrahuman is a metabolic fitness platform. When you look at the fitness industry, you see thousands of different diet and fitness protocols that can be inundating to anyone who’s looking to start their fitness journey. People get lost in a sea of choices. Most people start by going to the gym, thinking that’s the way to get fit. But food is 80% of fitness. You already have a massive head start if you optimize your diet and know what to eat every day. During our research on health and fitness and, generally, how to improve quality of life, we learned about the power of tracking and optimizing glucose biomarkers. Usually, the only biomarker that people tend to look at is weight—they stand on a scale and measure whether they have lost or gained weight. But weight is a very, very slow-changing metric. For most people, if they start today, it will be about two to three weeks before they can see any progress. The reward is delayed; hence the actions can get inconsistent. But if we can see how our body changes with every meal we eat, how we can better or worse; if we can see the inflammation in our body go down, we’d be in much better control of our health. We want to gratify people for taking care of their health. Built with MongoDB: How does Ultrahuman monitor glucose biomarkers? Vatsal: It’s done using a CGM device installed on your body. This sensor connects to the Ultrahuman app and streams your glucose data onto it in real-time. The sensor needs to be replaced every 14 days, post its expiry. Glucose is a versatile biomarker that can optimise various health goals such as weight management, energy regulation, improving athletic performance, learning more about one’s diet or any other metabolic disorder. For instance, if I’m training for a marathon, I would start by measuring my fueling needs. I’d begin eating complex carbs to be well fueled and train efficiently, and so on. If your body is over-fueled for long periods, you’re more likely to be diabetic. On the other hand, under-fueling can cause critical nutrient deficiencies, fatigue and lethargy. But if you are optimally fueled, your focus is excellent, your performance is perfect during your exercise and even at work. Built with MongoDB: What made you want to start Ultrahuman? Vatsal: Mohit and I have been super-passionate about health and fitness since college. We decided to build something in this space—health/fitness tech still is new, there aren’t a lot of companies out there. There’s still a lot we can build and give to the community. Most competitive athletes don’t train without goals—they understand exactly what they need to do. But a typical user they’re not so sure. Built with MongoDB: What experiences helped you get to where you are as a co-founder? Vatsal: I am a computer science major and have always loved building and scaling stuff. Mohit and I built a logistics company in the past, and we scaled it to 2 million transactions a day and ended up employing nearly half a million people. We learned a lot in our previous stint and were excited to bring all the learnings to Ultrahuman. Built with MongoDB: What have you enjoyed the most about building Ultrahuman? Vatsal: The best part of building Ultrahuman has been the impact that our product is creating in people’s lives. We’re a close-knit community of biohackers and ‘Cyborgs’ as we call ourselves—we discuss our experiments and experiences on all things health and fitness. We often get to learn how small lifestyle changes can go a long way in improving the quality of our lives. Built with MongoDB: On the flip side: What has been the most challenging aspect in building Ultrahuman? Vatsal: The most challenging part has been growing the team organically. We are a global team of around 50 people who are on the mission of fighting the global metabolic crisis. Built with MongoDB: Could you share more about your tech strategy? Vatsal: We have nearly 100 million glucose points and are growing exponentially. This is the largest glucose dataset globally for healthy people. From a technology standpoint, we want to create an impact in people’s life by leveraging insights on top of this data. We believe in using tools and technology that help us scale without any maintenance hassle. That is why we have trusted companies like AWS, MongoDB, New Relic, etc., for nearly a decade now. Built with MongoDB: What made you choose MongoDB Atlas? Vatsal: MongoDB Atlas is a perfect tool to handle scale. I have used MongoDB in the past, and it efficiently dealt with the scale of multi-million transactions a day. In Ultrahuman, it was a no-brainer for us to use it, and it’s super powerful. We aren’t scared to launch new countries and geographies because we can spawn anything globally at the click of a button. It’s also super easy to upgrade, even as we are iterating. Built with MongoDB: What advice would you give an aspiring founder as they build their startup? Vatsal: For anyone building a startup, getting early feedback from your users is the most important thing. People love building, but they don’t necessarily love selling, and selling is the hard reality. You can build a kickass product, but there's no value created if nobody is buying/using it. So the first thing you need to do is get that early feedback and figure out the right target audience. From there, you can constantly iterate and build along with your alpha users. Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here .

March 23, 2022

Digitizing Nigeria with Okra And MongoDB

Think of how often you open a banking app on your phone. What a feeling it is to have the security of knowing exactly what is in your account at all times. Now think back to the days before your bank had that mobile app and how you had to drive to the bank to deposit a check, check your balance, or withdraw some cash. Luckily for us, there's no sign of going back to the way things were. However, that way of life is still a reality for some countries. That's why Fara Ashiru Jituboh started Okra in Nigeria. Okra gives the citizens of Nigeria a way to access their money through modern means, rather than physically driving to a bank. Okra is connected to all banks in Nigeria, allowing customers to connect their bank accounts directly to financial apps with their internet or mobile banking credentials, making onboarding a faster and safer experience. All with 99.9% guaranteed uptime. Okra's API empowers companies and developers in Nigeria to build products with seamless access to inclusive financial data and secure payments. Built with MongoDB spoke with co-founder, CEO Fara Ashiru Jituboh to discuss how Okra came to be, the excitement of building something so impactful, working with MongoDB, and much more. Built with MongoDB: What exactly does Okra do? Fara Ashiru Jituboh: Okra simply enables developers to build personalized digital financial services. We’re digitizing financial services for Africa. We’re doing this as the infrastructure powering the fast-growing consumer platforms. Built with MongoDB: What made you want to start your own company? Fara Ashiru Jituboh: I've been a builder for a long time and have built many projects. When I moved to Nigeria in 2014, I wanted to rent a place, but you have to pay for the whole year upfront to rent a house. Same thing if you're going to buy a car, you have to pay for the entire thing in cash, and a lot of these things were due to this lack of access and data. That’s why the Fourth Industrial Revolution is so important, it involves personalization and access to data and generally democratizing access. I wanted to manage my finances, pay for something in a monthly installment, and access that kind of credit foundation. Through that, there are a lot of significant use cases and different products that companies will build. Built with MongoDB: What was your initial vision for Okra? Fara Ashiru Jituboh: Initially, I was just trying to build a personal finance platform, similar to the ones I’d used in the U.S. like Mint. I ran into hurdles doing that, and the biggest hurdle was access to real-time financial data. My co-founder, David Peterside , already had a strong hypothesis on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact so we further explored and doubled down on building the data infrastructure. We knew the infrastructure we were building was something every financial service provider absolutely needed to become/remain relevant. Financial service providers tried to build the infrastructure and weren’t very good at it. They found that it distracted them from their core business and were happy to have a company like us abstract all that complexity for them, so they could focus on their core business — which is delivering the best financial services experience for consumers. We felt like we could make more of an impact by solving the problem for the entire continent as opposed to just ourselves. Hence where our mission comes from — which is digitizing financial services for Africa. Built with MongoDB: What is a cool feature of Okra that you’ve built? Fara Ashiru Jituboh: For me, it's going to be our returning user experience, and our widget upgrade. It showed us how big we are as a platform and that we're a network. And it started to show us the immense potential, and the amount of crossover between customers. Built with MongoDB: What have you enjoyed the most about building Okra? Fara Ashiru Jituboh: It's two things. Waking up every day and working with people that are just as passionate about a product as you are. And on the flip side of that is having people so passionate about it and seeing people using the product. We're on our third version of our widget, and we're starting to think about scale and growth. That journey has just been crazy in the sense of real fun. Everyone is so collaborative and has a passion for solving the same problems. Built with MongoDB: What were you optimizing for when it came time to select a database platform? Fara Ashiru Jituboh: The number one thing with MongoDB is knowing that you don't see what you're building yet, and NoSQL is the best for that. Early on, we had to rethink the architecture of the database. Because we use MongoDB, it's so easy to do that, because we could easily migrate and not have to worry about issues with schemas. It allowed us to be very agile and move pretty fast and iterate quickly. Built with MongoDB: Is there any advice you’d give other aspiring founders when they’re building or growing their startup? Fara Ashiru Jituboh: As a startup founder, there are always a million fires burning, so you can't put out every fire. It's really about figuring out the most critical and how to put them out or stop them from growing. Sometimes you have to do that before you can do anything else, and it's not always just about scaling your business; it's also about scaling your technology. When you're building, especially an engineering-driven product, you are making sure that there's a perfect cohesion between the business you're building and the technology you're scaling. Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here .

March 9, 2022

Streamlining your Travel Needs with Lambus and MongoDB

Traveling can be a hassle. Ok, that’s putting it mildly (to say the least). But what if traveling didn’t have to be so difficult? Lambus is the all-in-one travel platform that is designed to put your entire trip into your pocket. From waypoints and expenses to tickets, photos, and much more, Lambus was built for not just individuals traveling solo but also for traveling those in a group. Lambus allows its users to have everything they could possibly need when it comes to traveling across its many devices, without the need for wifi. Trips are stored offline, so they can be accessed on the go. Built with MongoDB spoke with Leon Braun , co-founder and CTO about the ins and outs of Lambus, his plans for the future of the company, and what his journey has been like so far. Built with MongoDB: What is it that Lambus does? Leon Braun: Lambus is a platform you can use for all your travel needs. You can focus on your trip and don’t have to worry about where all your documents and trip related things are. Lambus can be used by solo travelers as well as with your partner or in a group. It allows you to organize your trip from start to finish. Built with MongoDB: What is Lambus’s mission? Braun: Our mission is to become the one platform that you want to use for all your trip related things. We want to inspire you with everything related to your trip, whether it’s hotels, flights, or rental cars. You only need to use one platform for everything that you need to do when you travel. Built with MongoDB: What made you decide to start this company? Braun: Hans (Knoechel) founded it and was looking for people who also love to travel. So we started in 2018 with six people in the founding team and grew to ten people. Now we want to get even bigger - both in terms of team and users. That's one of the reasons we need a database that can scale with us. Built with MongoDB: What was the initial project that Hans was working on? Braun: The project has been Lambus from the beginning. But of course, some things have changed since then. Hans initially wanted to organize a few waypoints and documents, and after a while it became bigger and bigger. We added more features, for example expenses and photos. Many of our features come from user ideas or user feedback, as we are very user-centric. Built with MongoDB: Was there a problem you were trying to solve with Lambus? Braun: There wasn’t a problem, necessarily, but we saw that you have to organize a trip with many different apps. Two to three apps for inspiration, another for sights with possible accommodations and so on. Each time you enter your data all over again. Not necessarily the best user experience. So we developed an all-in-one platform that organizes all travel-related things. Built with MongoDB: How has Lambus shifted over time? Braun: It doesn’t really change in general, but we focus more on features that the users really use. Like the chat feature that we implemented very early on but is hardly used. That's why we put it in a less prominent place. Basically, the idea is the same now as it was in the beginning, but we try to focus more on our customers, and what they want, so some features grow bigger, and some features do not. Built with MongoDB: What is a feature that a customer expressed they were interested in that you implemented? Braun: The ability to import and show GPX files for example, we received some customer feedback and implemented it within one week. We always try to implement customer feedback very fast. Another example is email import, you can forward an email with a booking or something else to an auto generated email that’s only made for your trip. The content will then be added to your trip automatically. Built with MongoDB: How did you decide to build with MongoDB? Braun: We needed a database that can scale with us, and it’s flexible enough to get our features and products integrated quickly, so it had to be an object oriented database. We used it in many projects before, because you can get a free tier to experiment and launch your product with nearly no costs. Once you get bigger you can get into the paid plans. We are also very happy to be in the MongoDB for Startups program, which gives us the ability to get more performance for events like the German version of ‘Shark Tank’ in which we are hosted in May 2021. Built with MongoDB: What have you enjoyed the most about building Lambus? Braun: There are so many things. We launched the product, and we are getting more and more customers in such a small amount of time, all without spending money in marketing, so it was really exciting to see people really use it and love it. It’s also very exciting to build a product that is used worldwide. And of course it’s also nice to be able to help people with all the problems around traveling. Built with MongoDB: What advice would you give to aspiring CTOs who want to build a startup? Braun: Just do it. If you don’t start it, you’ll never know if there’s a way to do it. Focus on your customers and try to grow as fast as you can. Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here .

February 23, 2022

Catalysr and MongoDB Team to Support Migrant Entrepreneurs

Imagine what it’s like to not only be a migrant in a brand new country, but also to have a revolutionary idea inside your head, and soon realize that you have no idea how to go about putting that idea into action. Thankfully, for migrants in Australia, Catalysr is designed specifically for you. Catalysr is a startup incubator for early stage startups, with entrepreneurship programs for high-performing migrant and refugee entrepreneurs (or as Catalysr calls them - ‘migrapreneurs’) who want to find success in Australia by building their very own tech company. The company is designed for those with fresh ideas and are ready to take on a big challenge in order to bring those very ideas to life. Since its inception in 2015, Catalysr has supported over 520 migrapreneurs, 175+ businesses, and its community includes over 1200 professionals, advisors, and investors. The MongoDB for Startups team was excited to team up with Catalysr to support their mission and startups. Built with MongoDB spoke with Devarshi Desai, Community Manager at Catalysr, to discuss the challenges migrants in Australia face, the different programs the company offers, and where he sees the community at Catalysr heading in the future. Built with MongoDB: What is Catalysr all about? Devarshi Desai: Catalysr is a startup incubator for international students, migrants, and refugees in Australia. When people come to Australia, they may not have all the connections that they had back in their own country, or they don’t know how businesses work in their new country of residence. That is one of the problems we want to solve, to make it accessible for migrants to start businesses in Australia. We do that through two different programs, the pre-accelerator program and the accelerate program. Built with MongoDB: Can you explain the differences between the two programs you mentioned? Devarshi Desai: The pre-accelerator program is more of an educational program, as in, it’s great that you want to build a startup, but there are the things that you need to know to make sure that you can start your startup the right way. A lot of times, it’s simple things, such as getting validation of the problem or solution before building a product. That’s one mistake that we see a lot of founders make, just because they think they have this great solution, they go on and build that solution, but it might not be the best way to do it. The pre-accelerator program makes sure that the solution is shaped to best execute, it’s for very early stage founders that want to learn how to best execute their idea. We launched the pre-accelerator program all across Australia in 2021, before that it was primarily in Melbourne and Sydney. We organise Community sessions every week, where founders can meet each other, and they can interact, learn and discuss some of the things that they have learned that specific week. The Community part of it is really important. The accelerate program is for startups that are slightly more advanced, those who have launched, they obviously want to grow and scale, and the program steps in and has them meet with investors, and just have those first conversations about what investors are looking for. It’s preparing them for the next journey. Built with MongoDB: What specific challenges do migrant and refugee entrepreneurs face? Devarshi Desai: For a lot of international students and migrants, it can be very difficult to land their first job in Australia, for various reasons. So after brainstorming some ideas, Catalysr co-founders, Usman Iftikhar and Jacob Muller decided to help migrants start their own businesses in Australia. When you come to a new country, they may not know anything about your culture, or who you are, so how do you build that trust, build that connection? So we try to help them learn these things, all the basic stuff that they need to know in Australia if they want to start a business. Built with MongoDB: What is the acceptance process like for each program? Devarshi Desai: For the pre-accelerator program, the entry criteria is quite low, because we want to make this accessible for as many people as possible. One entry point is we need somebody who is a migrant, that’s number one. They also need to have a startup idea, we don’t typically ask for much more than that, because they understand that this is a very early stage. The goal is to inspire them to solve problems that they see in the world. The accelerate program, the entry is a bit more difficult, because we only allow startups that have launched, that are validated, and who would like to scale. It’s not just an idea in their head, it’s slightly more advanced, we help them with investor meetings and networking with mentors. It also helps VC funds and angel investors who are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing, and the next startup. Built with MongoDB: Can you tell us more about your role as Community Manager? Devarshi Desai: One of the reasons why I really like my role is I believe in the power of community, and many people working together that believe in the same cause and work towards solving a problem. I also have been an international student and a migrant founder. I started recording the journey on YouTube of being an International student, and it became one of the biggest YouTube channels for international students in Australia. And out of that, we could build one of the biggest communities of international students in Australia. I am very interested in startups and solving problems for migrants, and that’s when Catalysr came in, and I realized this was perfect. I realized that it’s a cause that I would like to work for. Built with MongoDB: What does the future of Catalysr look like? Devarshi Desai: If we look at the last 30 years, the number of migrants has increased significantly all over the world. This is a trend that is going to continue. The number of people migrating to different countries and wanting to start a business is the thing we want to help them with. Currently we have programs running in Australia and New Zealand but sky's the limit. The goal would be to help migrants all over the world build startups. Built with MongoDB: What is one piece of advice that you would give to a founder or CTO? Devarshi Desai: One piece of advice that I received, and I try to remember every day is to just jump in, whether you’re prepared or not. Because when you have already started something, the pressure is on, and you most likely end up creating something out of it, rather than just thinking about it. Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here .

February 2, 2022

Powered by MongoDB, Bliinx is Changing the Way Software is Sold

Regardless of the industry, sales organizations often struggle to determine the best way to identify potential customers. There are many schools of thought as to what the best approach is, and when the most opportune time a sales executive should reach out might be. One startup company aims to make that process as simple and efficient as possible. Bliinx , based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was created to help revenue teams focus and act on the most qualified leads and accounts based on product usage, billing, firmographic and marketing engagement data. Bliinx’s mission is to “change the way we sell software.” We spoke with Bliinx co-founders Fred Melanson and John Espinoza about starting the company, their journey, and where they see Bliinx headed in the future. How did you decide to start Bliinx? Melanson: I realized that it’s hard to build quality relationships with a lot of people, especially people that you’re trying to get investments from. I would ask people a lot of questions, and those were around relationship building and the question became how do you manage your clients relationships? Everyone would answer that they do everything manually, across siloed channels, and it’s a pain to manage and scale. So I figured there must be something there, that was really the spark that we created Bliinx on. What does Bliinx do? Melanson: We are a lead prioritization platform for bottom-up B2B SaaS, so we help sales teams - mainly account executives - to know who the best leads are at the best accounts to reach out to, and also to identify when it’s the best time to reach out to them. And the way we do that is by finding signals and insights in their sales conversations, their marketing engagement, and product usage. Our tool will plug into your system and find insights that are worth engaging on and scoring your talents and your leads, so the sales reps are focused on the best customers at the best time, without having to use generic one size fits all automation, which can be great for top of funnel SDRs, but for CSMs, who are really about nurturing, closing, and expanding revenue, it has to be more thoughtful and and more human because it’s getting harder and harder to get people’s attention and retention is immensely valuable for SaaS companies, so our tool helps us just find the best people at the best time to grow revenue faster. What are some tools that Bliinx connects with? Melanson: The basic one will plug into your email and calendar, we also have LinkedIn integration, which is pretty unique to sync your LinkedIn messages and plug into your CRM. It also connects with Slack to receive notifications and right now we are building integrations with Segment, Intercom, Stripe, and Snowflake, so reps can have product insights. We are also building new integrations for LinkedIn and Twitter so that reps can also have content marketing engagement insights to act on. Where are you right now with Bliinx? How has the journey been, have you gone through accelerators and are you funded by VC’s? Melanson: I started working on the project about a year-and-a-half, two years ago, it was really an idea out of college. So after a lot of learning, we raised an angel round really quickly, and a couple of months later we got accepted to 500 Startups. From there we raised a pre seed round and we’ve been iterating on the product, trying to really find our positioning, and find the people that have the problem, and figure out what’s the best version of the problem that we can solve. How did getting accepted into 500 Startups shape Bliinx? Melanson: It’s a game changer. I don’t think we would have been here today if it wasn’t for 500 Startups. It was an amazing experience, you’re surrounded by so many smart people, and have such an expertise that you don’t normally have access to. You get what you take out of it, so I pushed it to the max, every time there was office hours, I would take it, every time there was an investor meeting open, I would take it. I would really, really push and it got us to great results, and it’s through 500 Startups that I’ve met our lead investor. Can you tell us about your tech stack? Espinoza: I want to keep it simple, this is the main rule of the company. We've built our system with microservices, use NodeJS and NoSQL for our back-end and have built a robust back-end infrastructure to build our proprietary engines for data orchestration. The rest of our platform is built on typescript and we use MongoDB to manage our databases. How did you decide to go with MongoDB? Espinoza: My first startup, we used MongoDB, and had a great experience. We use MongoDB, and I really love it. We don’t have to care about backups, or anything to do with the infrastructure. It’s plug and play, so what’s amazing for us is I come from the background where you have to build everything. So going with the NoSQL database is fantastic because you don’t have to maintain all the schema, which can be really messy. Like I said, we try to keep it simple. What excites you now about working with Bliinx? Melanson: With the rise of companies that are product-led or marketing-led, and the fact that people are working remotely, sales is changing, and I think it’s for the better. Tools on the market need to adjust, yes people want to try it out before they buy it, but they don’t want to go through a sales rep, they still want to meaningfully connect with people in sales. And sales reps are a big part of that journey, it’s just that you don’t reach out cold to sell, you have them try it, and then you’re more of a consultant, or the hand holder through that way. So it excites me about figuring out a way for people to build meaningful connections in business, with us being so remote. Espinoza: Everything that we build in here is new for me, and that’s what excites me. Working with a lot of data coming from everywhere, and building something valuable for you, let’s do something valuable with a lot of data. This is the magic box that we build in our building, this is a great opportunity. What advice would you give to someone starting up their own company? Melanson: 99% of people just don’t start, so my main advice is to just start. That’s really what the hurdle is, that’s the toughest part, people think it’s recruiting a technical co-founder, or raising money is the toughest part, but it’s starting. You can go so far validating your idea, without having a single line of code. Espinoza: Don’t start with titles. In the beginning, you’re just people with a project. The other is to go talk to people who are doing the same thing. Finding other people to bounce ideas off of, just to validate ideas, that is something that has helped me a lot. Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here .

January 26, 2022

Utilizing AI and MongoDB to Power Content Personalization

Content is everywhere. Whatever it is a consumer is looking for, and whatever industry that person might be in, it’s not hard to find content. The problem, however, is trying to find the right content. That’s where Concured comes into play. Concured , an AI-startup based in Montreal, helps marketing teams align their website and sales content to audiences, as well as content marketing teams who need to differentiate and accelerate insight-driven content personalization. Concured was founded in 2015 by CEO Tom Salvat and built for content marketers to better understand their audience's interests in order to deliver more impactful content. Built with MongoDB spoke with CTO Tom Wilson , who joined Concured roughly a year after it was founded. We discussed Concured’s use of artificial intelligence, how Wilson joined Concured, as well as what he sees as the future for the company. Built with MongoDB: What does Concured do? Tom Wilson: Concured is a software company that leverages artificial intelligence techniques developed in the last five to 10 years. It is designed to help marketers know what to write about on a per-topic basis, to see what is working well from their own content, as well as that of their competitors, and within their industry. Finally, it maximizes the return on investment they make on any content that they create by personalizing the web visitor’s journey through the client’s website. Concured has developed a recommender system, which is personalized to the individual visitor. It is a privacy friendly approach that doesn’t use third-party cookies or spy on the user, it is purely based on the web visitor’s behavior on the site, and it builds up an interest profile on that visitor as they click through successive web pages. As it builds a more precise picture of the interests and intent of the user, it tries to recommend content to them to read next, whether it’s a blog post, a product description, or any other kind of content. Built with MongoDB: You mentioned artificial intelligence. How does Concured use artificial intelligence behind the scenes? Wilson: We use artificial intelligence in a number of places. One of our unique selling propositions to our clients, is that, unlike other personalized systems, Concured doesn’t require a lengthy integration period, nor does it require ongoing maintenance on the part of the domain. Our approach is to scrape the content of the clients’ websites using AI powered bots to find the content that is relevant and to extract the text, the title, and any other relevant metadata, and to index that in an automatic way. Our system leverages recent advances in natural language processing (NLP) in order to generate semantic metadata for each document, corresponding to a unique point within a multi-dimensional space. Another aspect is to understand the key entities that are in it, and also to understand the relationship of that particular article to the other ones within the same website. We create a lot of metadata automatically on each piece of content that we find using AI powered web crawlers and scrapers. Built with MongoDB: Since AI isn’t always 100% accurate, what is the accuracy for the NLP that you’ve created at Concured? Wilson: With recommender systems, it’s very hard to say what the best recommendation is, because it could be very different for the same person depending on the day, or the web session. If you think of some of the most famous recommender systems, such as Netflix, Amazon, or Spotify, they try to show us what we want to see next, but there’s actually no single right answer. Because of that, it’s very hard to measure the performance, so the approach that we use is not to say that there is a 100% correct answer, but rather, to say, if we make changes to the algorithms, do the visitors on these websites click on more articles, and do they reach the target pages defined by the website’s owner, e.g. a product page or a sign-up form. The higher proportion of people performing that action at the end of the journey on the website relative to the number of the people who arrived on the website, the more successful the recommender system is, and we can compare the success rate that our clients have on their websites before and after they activate the personalization system from Concured. So far we’re looking at a two to three times uplift, and the algorithms are improving all the time. Built with MongoDB: When did you join the team at Concured? Wilson: At a time when the company had raised its first serious money from external investors, and one of the requirements was that they brought on a professional CTO, this often happens in early stage companies, the investors want to impose some structure, they want to know that their money is going to be spent wisely, and do things a little less shooting from the hip. And so, in some companies they joke about bringing in adult supervision. I don’t know if I’d say that about my role, since the team was already nicely established, but I was able to provide a lot more structure to ensure that we would meet our next milestones, as well as longer-term strategic planning and a technical vision. Built with MongoDB: How did your team decide to build with MongoDB? Wilson: The team that I joined was already using MongoDB at the time. Within a few months of joining, there was some discussion about whether to move to a structured database. That was a decision that had to be made, so that’s where I got involved and it became a conscious decision not to move away from MongoDB. This was the right fit for what we wanted going forward, and we absolutely made the right decision. We are also going to move away from our Community edition hosted on Google Cloud Platform to MongoDB Atlas Serverless. We’ll be happy not to manage machines any more, thanks to the serverless aspect, and we’re also excited to try out the text search features available on Atlas, since this could potentially simplify our tech stack. For where we are, as a business today, and where we want to be in five years, MongoDB is and will continue to be the right choice. Built with MongoDB: What does the future of Concured look like? Wilson: The future is being written as we speak. It’s bringing on more clients with similar needs to those of our largest clients at the moment, namely enterprises that have a huge amount of content, already in the archives, that they would like to continue to squeeze value out of, as well as publishing a lot; whether it’s big companies, such as consultancies or financial services industries, or traditional publishers, you want to make sure that they’re promoting the right content that’s going to have the biggest uplift in terms of whatever KPIs they’re measuring. Built with MongoDB: What is the best piece of feedback that you’ve received? Wilson: One nice piece of feedback I’ve received from my team is that I’ve always been there for them. If they have a problem, I will either fix it or remove obstacles for them so they can do the best that they can. It’s part of my philosophy that if you take care of the team, a lot of other things will take care of themselves. For any business that invests in content as part of its marketing strategy, it makes only good business sense to try to maximize the return on that. Learn more about how to turn readers into customers via Content Personalization on Concured’s website . Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here .

January 19, 2022