Strategic Planner: Knowing all about your competition

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Michel Besner
Michel Besner, CEO of Strategic Planner

Strategic Planner is a platform that aggregates leading social media networks, popular news sites and hundreds of databases to provide a specifically designed business news feed on a company’s competitors. Inside Investor spoke to CEO Michel Besner about the idea behind his venture.

By Kamran Saddique

Q: Can you tell us about the background of the company?

A: Actually I was thinking about this for many years, but the company was just started four months ago. The idea was: For a lot of people, understanding the market and their competitors is tough as about 80 per cent of companies don’t have the necessary data themselves. But the data is out there if you go to LinkedIn or to government databases or the like, and this can help to do an market analysis. What we realised is that it’s about having the right tools to compile data from different sources. What we did is to leverage the ecosystem of the APIs, the programming interfaces, to get data in and out. So we plugged data and content from different sources and brought it together onto a dashboard, and there it can be benchmarked.

Q: Is this a unique idea?

A: It hasn’t been done before. We now see a few other companies popping up with it, but we are ahead of them. We are in business since the end of June 2013 and have already more than 1,000 sign-ups so far as people see the value in it. We also give away free sign-ups for qualified investors.

Q: Can you give an example for a particular segment?

A: If you look at the tech sector, every medium-sized company will probably have around ten direct competitors and it wants to know where it stands or how it ranks on the web and in all the other business context. Our approach is: We aggregate the content, then we bring in different techniques for analysis so that we can dig through the content, and we provide insights on the data. For example, if one competitor of a company does a price change, in theory there should be a certain impact after some time, such as more web traffic, hiring of more staff, generating more revenue and so on, and these data points correlate and can give insights about a competitor’s strategy. Larger companies might have business analysts or do data mining, but most of the smaller ones don’t have that. We bring this data to a company, and with our intelligence the data begins to tell them something. There is nothing better than to benchmark against another company.

Q: When you look at Asian market where access to data is not as easy as in the US and there are many different languages, how would you do a roll-out there?

A: That’s a very good question. Our strategy at the beginning is to be highly focused on North America. In Asia, I would say that we would localise the data interfaces first and then see how far they are accessible and what we can use and in which language. We want to connect with Asian databases in about 12 to 18 months. We are really aggressive now and look for as many content sources and databases as possible so that we reach a critical mass.

Q: What are the main challenges?

A: The main challenge is to raise awareness and get attention and make clear that there is a business benefit for clients. The other thing is to collect all the content – not in terms of technology – but in terms of volume. We need to integrate hundreds of databases, and the risk is that it would take us too long to get a worldwide critical mass of content. That’s directly linked to our ability of being successful in our first year of business.

Q: Where do you see the product in six months from now?

A: Our target is to reach product maturity by then for the North American market and then look beyond to Europe and Asia. If its takes longer, then we would have to postpone our expansion. At the moment, the core of our signed-up clients is from the US. But with our content partners also continuously integrating databases from other countries, we naturally expand with them.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Michel Besner, CEO of Strategic Planner

Strategic Planner is a platform that aggregates leading social media networks, popular news sites and hundreds of databases to provide a specifically designed business news feed on a company’s competitors. Inside Investor spoke to CEO Michel Besner about the idea behind his venture.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Michel Besner
Michel Besner, CEO of Strategic Planner

Strategic Planner is a platform that aggregates leading social media networks, popular news sites and hundreds of databases to provide a specifically designed business news feed on a company’s competitors. Inside Investor spoke to CEO Michel Besner about the idea behind his venture.

By Kamran Saddique

Q: Can you tell us about the background of the company?

A: Actually I was thinking about this for many years, but the company was just started four months ago. The idea was: For a lot of people, understanding the market and their competitors is tough as about 80 per cent of companies don’t have the necessary data themselves. But the data is out there if you go to LinkedIn or to government databases or the like, and this can help to do an market analysis. What we realised is that it’s about having the right tools to compile data from different sources. What we did is to leverage the ecosystem of the APIs, the programming interfaces, to get data in and out. So we plugged data and content from different sources and brought it together onto a dashboard, and there it can be benchmarked.

Q: Is this a unique idea?

A: It hasn’t been done before. We now see a few other companies popping up with it, but we are ahead of them. We are in business since the end of June 2013 and have already more than 1,000 sign-ups so far as people see the value in it. We also give away free sign-ups for qualified investors.

Q: Can you give an example for a particular segment?

A: If you look at the tech sector, every medium-sized company will probably have around ten direct competitors and it wants to know where it stands or how it ranks on the web and in all the other business context. Our approach is: We aggregate the content, then we bring in different techniques for analysis so that we can dig through the content, and we provide insights on the data. For example, if one competitor of a company does a price change, in theory there should be a certain impact after some time, such as more web traffic, hiring of more staff, generating more revenue and so on, and these data points correlate and can give insights about a competitor’s strategy. Larger companies might have business analysts or do data mining, but most of the smaller ones don’t have that. We bring this data to a company, and with our intelligence the data begins to tell them something. There is nothing better than to benchmark against another company.

Q: When you look at Asian market where access to data is not as easy as in the US and there are many different languages, how would you do a roll-out there?

A: That’s a very good question. Our strategy at the beginning is to be highly focused on North America. In Asia, I would say that we would localise the data interfaces first and then see how far they are accessible and what we can use and in which language. We want to connect with Asian databases in about 12 to 18 months. We are really aggressive now and look for as many content sources and databases as possible so that we reach a critical mass.

Q: What are the main challenges?

A: The main challenge is to raise awareness and get attention and make clear that there is a business benefit for clients. The other thing is to collect all the content – not in terms of technology – but in terms of volume. We need to integrate hundreds of databases, and the risk is that it would take us too long to get a worldwide critical mass of content. That’s directly linked to our ability of being successful in our first year of business.

Q: Where do you see the product in six months from now?

A: Our target is to reach product maturity by then for the North American market and then look beyond to Europe and Asia. If its takes longer, then we would have to postpone our expansion. At the moment, the core of our signed-up clients is from the US. But with our content partners also continuously integrating databases from other countries, we naturally expand with them.

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