Tim Wilson currently serves as CEO of Qutee, an advanced data discussion platform. He is also co-founder and CEO of Qutee's parent company, Sentiment360, an engagement and analytics company. He has a degree in law from Leeds Metropolitan University and spent much of his career as a songwriter, music producer and guitarist.
How did you get into the industry?
I have a law degree and much of my career has been as a music producer, guitarist and songwriter, but I’ve always kept a close eye on the tech industry. I started to become frustrated with how much conversational insight was being lost or hidden by social media, forums and news sites, so in 2013 I set up engagement and analytics company Sentiment360 with Flint Barrow. We developed a real-time NLP and advanced tagging methodology, and our proprietary Octo survey and comments system; together they form the backbone of the Qutee platform we’re taking to market today.
Any emerging industry trends?
The frustration with online debate and conversation is now starting to dovetail with our own thinking and approaches to innovation. Data democracy as well is very much in its infancy but growing in momentum - we’re seeing this play out at the moment with GDPR, but as The Economist is calling data ‘the new oil’ the need for data democracy will undoubtedly continue to grow.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Brands, publishers, and content creators have long been taking to their social channels to try and engage audiences or solicit their feedback. However, existing social media platforms are built for promotion, not in-depth engagement or market research: it’s nigh on impossible to engage in meaningful discussion or garner useful insight at scale. As it stands social media is nowhere near fit for purpose from a brand perspective.
By building a data-driven platform for meaningful debate and research from the ground up, Qutee seeks to both address these challenges and improve the utility of online discussion for everyone. The platform acts as an engagement forum for brands to interact with audiences, and a real-time market research tool for insight into sentiments and trends, or feedback on products and services.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
The concept behind Qutee was that we wanted to apply the NLP and comments technology we’d developed to try and improve the quality of online debate for everyone. Digital discussion today is in a state of disarray; existing social media and discussion tools are swamped with content. Comments disappear from view within minutes of being posted, while the data and insight from discussions is walled away by site owners and only made available for a price. No one has a real voice, and no one is capable of listening properly.
We built Qutee as an online discussion platform that organizes digital discussion, collecting poll data on key questions and converting every comment or interaction into trackable, analyzable, and actionable data that is accessible to anyone. Over the next few years, the goal is to make the platform’s core technology ubiquitous across large parts of the internet, with Qutee known as the platform for elevated debate, real-time insight, and digital democracy. Web 2.0 failed to bring the digital democracy it promised; at Qutee we’re committing to making it happen.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
The initial challenge we faced was finding a way to test during beta with a relevant audience. We partnered with tech influencer MarzBar, and by bringing his audience to the platform, we were able to gather the feedback and user data we needed to refine the UI, UX and onboarding at a very granular level.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Beginning with gaming and tech influencers, we’ve been focusing on building relationships with influencers in a growing number of sectors including beauty and parenting, encouraging them to migrate their audiences to Qutee. This is creating great data-driven stories that also showcase the platform’s capability, as well as providing the influencers with granular insight into their communities, helping them understand who their audiences are and what they want content-wise. By granting stock in the business to the influencers who demonstrate the biggest commitment to our platform, we’re creating strategic relationships which democratise the business and ensure sustainable growth.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
Right now we’re focusing on growing our influencer base to 50 as well as working on a series of platform and product updates. Our aim for this year is to reach around five million monthly active users on the platform and establish Qutee as the place for elevated online debate and data democracy. Of course, as we scale, more funding will be required. However, the various B2B and B2C revenue streams we’ve been pursuing will soften the need for future funding rounds.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Qutee is all about democratising online discussion through data. We envision an experience where no discussion is off limits, where anyone can easily navigate the platform for the communities, topics and debates that interest them, or curate their own. Because Qutee is built around sentiment analysis, the most insightful comments are the most valued. It doesn’t matter how many subscribers or followers you have - the more insightful the opinion, the louder the voice will be.
How do you motivate others?
I have a very simple mantra: We hired you because we believe you’re brilliant, so be brilliant.
My other advice is to always focus on the core problems and tackle them head on. Too many people in life waste time finessing and tinkering with ideas, dealing with outlier issues while ignoring what really matters.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Make sure you believe in what you’re doing but at the same time don’t be too stubborn and singular about your vision - let others in. Chas Chandler cut Hendrix’s songs down to three minutes, and he became the greatest guitar legend of all time. Steve Jobs didn’t create the iPhone single-handedly; he needed a team. Also, don’t look to hire another you. The Beatles would not have been the same with four John Lennons.