Startup of the Day: CulturePulse, Slovak social media analytics company

Founded in 2021 by Justin E. Lane, F. LeRon Shults, Brian Swichkow, and Maja Roknic, CulturePulse creates a behavioral and psychological digital twin of an audience that helps to capture the beliefs and motivations of them and predict their buying behaviors and craft resonant messages. CulturePulse platform is based on cognitive, psychological, cultural researches, provides over 95% accuracy across more than 80 languages and already tracks over 80 aspects of psychology, motivations, personality, morality, and sociality.

In the Startup of the Day column, Dr Justin E Lane, the co-founder of CulturePulse shares more details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

The Startup of the Day column on AIN.Capital is dedicated to tech projects from all sectors that originated from the CEE countries. If you would like to introduce your project, please fill in the questionnaire.

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

CulturePulse develops an AI-based platform that can fully analyze a target audience group and provide a resonance score on the message/copy/ad that will essentially cut through the noise and really touch the customers.

Our system’s deep knowledge of the markets enables us to increase accuracy not only with themes but also with average buyer profiles. This allows our users to select their target audience from a market perspective, such as one-time buyers, lifetime buyers, and more. With CulturePulse, you can leverage our advanced analytics capabilities to make data-driven decisions and optimize your marketing strategies for maximum impact in your target market.

The platform offers a variety of modules for users to choose from, or they can request custom data analysis and research. The best part of this SaaS marketplace is that you are using a digital twin of your audience to do all the testing before you publish to your real audience, so you save time, and money and take the guesswork out of your advertising and communications.

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

Companies often make decisions by counting likes and views to measure sentiment, but CulturePulse helps to capture the beliefs and motivations of customers to make predictions of their buying behaviors and craft resonant messages. This is what we felt was missing in the market, and as we were already doing this for government research projects, so we could see the value, we wanted to create a marketplace that enables marketers to conduct research and audience testing quickly and in a safe environment.

As scientists, we do not use numbers we don’t understand and this was something we wanted to simplify for marketers and offer them a platform to be able to do that, so they can take charge of their advertising budgets with confidence and not rely on old-fashioned metrics such as likes and views, or numbers and strategies from agencies that could be hunches, or not based on real beliefs and motivations of their customers.

How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?

CulturePulse made a significant decision last year by identifying a niche industry where our platform could provide immediate and practical value. This decision was based on extensive market validation and an understanding of customer needs.

Since our proprietary AI technology has the potential to serve multiple use cases, we have built several prototypes for different clients. But one thing all customers have in common: imagine if you could know what your customers think of you and your product without even asking, just like knowing what the other person thinks of you on a date.

So ultimately it took us around a year to fully develop the MVP even though the platform has been in development since 2020.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

We have been developing the technology for the best part of ten years but were previously using it for enterprise projects such as research studies where we would work with governments such as a partnership with the Woolf Institute to uncover the real sentiment of the people caught within the Northern Ireland Troubles, and with the Norwegian Government to understand the sentiment of the people around the COVID lockdowns, amongst others.

It wasn’t until 2020 that we developed a more simplified platform that can be used by entrepreneurs, teams, and even individual digital advertising professionals.

Tell us about the startup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?

We were using the technology for enterprise customers. Every enterprise customer has different needs and the scope of work on these projects can vary hugely, so these would be costly on a case-by-case basis.

Now, however, we have further developed the platform to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, individual professionals, and marketing teams whereby they have three monthly options including:

  • a free basic account for one user, which can test up to 20 text outputs for one audience (great for small business owners or those new to AI);
  • a premium account for $99 per month, which can be used by one user for up to 200 text inputs and access to all audiences and detailed analysis (perfect for remote workers with clients in many sectors);
  • custom enterprise users who need unlimited user accounts, customized text inputs with access to all audiences, and detailed analysis (this plan also comes with a dedicated account manager).

What are your target markets and consumers?

CulturePulse AI works in 80+ languages, but right now we are focused on the US and UK markets. Our consumers are essentially the advertising and communications communities who can use our technology to enhance their conversions.

If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated?

We have been developing our product offering at a rapid pace and now count a number of Enterprise customers to date, with more in the pipeline. The nature of this kind of customer is that while Enterprise users have huge impacts, they don’t have monthly users in the long run, so right now we are measuring revenue.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

Myself and Dr. LeRon Shults (we’re both Doctors of Philosophy, not medicine), and we met in 2015 when LeRon asked me to move from Oxford University to Boston University to help lead the development of a large AI project where we would study using my idea of Multi-Agent Artificial Intelligence.

While together, myself and LeRon had ideated and built the technology that CulturePulse has today, we met Maja Roknic, a renowned product manager in Europe, in 2020. She quickly joined our team, as Co-founder and CPO, sharing her insights on leveraging social media for product development and shaping the CulturePulse vision into the product that you see today. We also invited a fractional CMO to come in and help with initial sales.

We also have 2 developers, 5 data scientists, a copywriter, and 1 marketer. Furthermore, we are looking to hire a Sales Manager to grow our sales team in the US and EU, as well as a director for government contract support.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, and the purpose of the investment.

Recently, we’ve raised $1 million in a seed round from Slovak VC firm Zero Gravity Capital, and used this investment to introduce more developers to enhance the platform, so users will be able to self-service all their AI needs easily and interpret the data themselves.  

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

We’ll be announcing a Series A funding round soon, and we hope to raise a minimum of $2 million which we will use to acquire new B2B customers which will include small businesses and individual users such as the digital nomad communities, as well as large scale organizations with a fully customizable product offering, to meet their unique needs and requirements.

New team members in Europe and the US, which will include developers and also a robust sales team, will be added to help scale the company where the goal is to add 1000 individual new users to the platform, and 4-5 enterprise users, by the end of 2023.