Syngency

Cloud-based management software for talent agencies, as beautiful as the models themselves.

syngencySyngency is a cloud-based system for talent, modelling, and acting agencies. It makes it easy to manage their talent pools and market themselves to the industry. It’s a one-stop solution that covers everything from onboarding wannabes to invoicing customers. And it just looks beautiful.

When I’m evaluating investment opportunities for businesses at any stage, the single most important factor is always the same: does the CEO have what it takes to make the business a success? ryan-brighterI haven’t met many people who are as effective as Syngency’s CEO Ryan Marshall. He is the very model of a modern startup entrepreneur. First and foremost, he’s always hustling. He loves his industry and his product, and seems to be out there either selling or thinking about how to sell 24 hours a day, working networks, racking up air miles, Skyping at 3am, he just doesn’t seem to know how to stop. He’s intimately familiar with his market, having talked to most of the major players and continually popping up at industry events. He knows his product inside-out because he’s coded most of it himself. He seems to have a sixth sense for opportunity, and isn’t shy to act quickly and seize it.

I first met Ryan at BNZ Startup Alley at Webstock early this year, where Syngency was a finalist. You could say that Startup Alley is the premier startup competition in New Zealand. Syngency didn’t win (that prize was taken out by Startup Weekend alumnus Banqer – more on them in the future) but Syngency still knocked the socks off of the judges. As a result, they won a trip to the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco.

NOTE: BNZ Startup Alley applications for 2016 are open now. It’s a great place to showcase your startup, practice pitching to a big crowd, and kickstart your action plan for the year.

Syngency entered the iiiNNO accelerator in Taiwan a few months later. They were one of two non-Taiwanese companies in the accelerator, and according to iiiNNO’s manager David Kuo, were by far the highest performing company there, and earned the privilege of launching at TechCrunch Asia. While at iiiNNO, Syngency attracted a significant number of clients all over Asia, including the unfortunately named but otherwise awesome ISIS Modelling Agency. They also achieved a key milestone by scoring a local mobile development team. Syngency did a great job of raising the profile of NZ startups in Asia.

From Taiwan, Syngency continued their world tour, and set up a base at Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) in San Francisco. Ryan now spends a lot of time dashing between New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco where their key US markets are.  KLP has been a great fit for them – see the video below for a synopsis.

Syngency’s target market is big, over $100m in the US and Europe alone. They now have customers in 30 countries, managing the talent profiles of over 40,000 models and actors and they’ll finish up 2015 with over 40x growth since the beginning of the year. Their solution is also easy to take into adjacent markets such as film production and sports.

Currently they’re executing a direct sales strategy and collecting most of their business through referrals from happy customers.

Syngency will be raising investment in early 2016, likely in a trans-pacific mix between New Zealand and California.

Meantime, they’re expanding their dev team in Auckland – they’re looking for a CTO and LAMP devs familiar with the full AWS suite. They’re excited about running a global Kiwi company from New Zealand, and they’d like you to join them!

Parrot Analytics

One metric to rule them all for the TV industry.

parrot2How’s this for a business model: attract the top talent in a tough industry, and solve their most pressing problem. That’s exactly what Parrot Analytics is doing, and although it’s early days, so far they’re onto a winner.

The problem they’re solving is measuring the demand for TV content across the current highly fragmented landscape. Their solution enables producers and distributors to measure the performance of their content across geographical markets, and also to compare specific programmes against their competitors within a market – across all channels, traditional, streaming, even offline. Content buyers can use this information to ensure that they’re getting the best bang for the buck. Their mission is to help TV executives make better content decisions, and to better connect content creatives to consumers.

This problem is a hard one. In the olden days before the Internet, Nielsen had set-top boxes which recorded all of a viewer’s activity, but it isn’t so simple any more. You might watch a programme on live TV, then switch over to Netflix or Lightbox, Google Play, Amazon Video, Hulu, and even God forbid torrent an episode that you’re geoblocked out of. Parrot’s solution very cleverly doesn’t care how you’re consuming the content – it’s more concerned with how much buzz it’s generating in various online platforms, which turns out to be a much better and accurate measure of the demand for content.

Their system uses artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning techniques to evaluate public reaction to each piece of content, and all of this complexity is reduced to a single number to rate the value of the content: the Demand Rating™ – one metric to rule them all.

wared
Wared Seger
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Chris Riddell

Co-founded by Wared Seger and Chris Riddell, the Parrot Analytics team is a mashup of the creme-de-la-creme of NZ’s top business, data, and science people, and funded by investors across New Zealand, Australia, and the US.
The Exec Team also includes CTO Jason Hunter, VP Product Arturas Vedrickas, and Ops Manager Dil Khosa.

One of their big customers is the BBC, for whom they were able to help uncover untapped opportunities for Dr Who in South Korea [see The Economist’s case study]. Nobody had predicted that, and the good doctor has turned out to be a big hit south of the DMZ.

Parrot Analytics has plans to apply the same technology across the entertainment vertical, as it works equally well for movies, music, ebooks, and games – but the biggest pain market pain and opportunity right now is in TV.

Parrot Analytics established an office in Los Angeles last year. There’s a small but growing cohort of Kiwi tech companies there, including 8i, The Appreciation Engine, Vista Entertainment, and recently high-profile Rocket Lab.

They’ve grown from six to 15 FTE over the last year, and raised both a seed round and a “pre-series-A” round, both among the largest that have ever been raised in NZ. They’re likely to raise another larger round in 2016.

Parrot Analytics are hiring right now, so if you know anyone interested in being a Software Engineer Intern or Chief Data Scientist, do let them know.