New innovators: MySmark
Company’s emotional insights key to building stronger customer loyalty
MySmark cofounder Nicola Farronato: Italian-born entrepreneur came to Dublin to set up the company in 2011
MySmark founders Nicola Farronato and Paolo Panizza have a big interest in people’s emotions. In particular, they want to capture and use emotional reactions to help businesses develop stronger customer loyalty towards their brands.
“Identifying the emotional responses of consumers to products is an area in which marketeers are investing hugely,” says Farronato.
“People may be familiar with sentiment research from the kiosks they see at places like Dublin Airport where they are asked to press a ‘happy’ or ‘unhappy’ button. Our tool brings this to a much more advanced level and we can provide rich consumer insights based on correlating emotional responses with individual personality types.”
MySmark started out as an online tool for emotional tagging for people, things and places. But it has since developed into a web-based platform for customer experience management focused on the travel, hospitality and retail sectors. Farronato says MySmark is unique because it combines emotional and rational data and personality to model, analyse and segment customer reactions.
“Traditional feedback tools, such as surveys, have issues around the quality of the data and they can’t deliver actionable insights,” he says.
“These factors are obstacles to customer satisfaction and block further loyalty and business opportunities. The traditional customer feedback market is quite fragmented and also very crowded.
“But a number of start-ups in the new emotional feedback space have come and gone within the last five years as it is a difficult area to get right. We are one of the few companies that provides a comprehensive suite of tools/touchpoints for emotional/rational customer feedback.”
MySmark has taken three years to develop in collaboration with academics from European and US universities. “It has been designed to capture a range of possible emotional reactions,” Farronato explains.
“We have a scale comprising six values: exciting, sophisticated, dynamic, dependable, hospitable and bold. Respondents also undergo a scientific personality test, allowing them to be classed into various personality types. Matching the responses with the respondent’s personality is the differentiating feature of what we do.”
Generate businessMySmark was set up in 2011 and the beta version of its product was launched in 2012. Since then the company has been running pilots with international brands, including Audi, Tesco and giant Italian retailer Coop.
The company officially launched MySmark for the travel and hospitality sectors in May this year and while its focus is international, it also hopes to generate business at home from airlines, hotels and tourist attraction providers.
MySmark employs six people full time and has another five working on a project basis. It is located in the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin and Italian-born Farronato and Panizza came to Dublin specifically to set up their business. “We were attracted by the quality of the entrepreneurship ecosystem and had very good support from NDRC when we came first,” Farronato says.
The company has raised €1 million to fund its development to date and has been supported by Enterprise Ireland. Farronato’s background is in sales and marketing while Panizza is an electronics engineer. There are two patents pending on the technology, one for the data modelling and the other for the tools used to capture feedback. The service is free for small users and there are “start” or “premium” price packages for bigger users.
Farronato says companies will want to buy MySmark because it provides them with a new weapon in the battle for customer loyalty.
“Take the airline industry as an example,” he says, “we can harness feedback to optimise the relevance of loyalty offers based on customers’ personalities. In a sector where a loyalty member typically generates 20 times more revenue than a non-member, this is a very appealing proposition.”