From to Preceptiv: A Pivotal Journey


** This is a guest post from Andrew Ko, Co-Founder of Preceptiv **

Pivoting. The very definition means to turn on or around a central point, and this is what we did as a business. Our central point was the idea that useful insights for companies could be extracted from people’s music listening behaviours. This main idea has never changed since the beginning of our journey. However, the way we went about it before our pivot is completely different to how we are going about it now. Let me explain...

The company started out with the BIG IDEA of revolutionizing the way advertising was experienced and consumed. This concept got us into the Collider programme in London and jump started our road to the 'Billion Pound' idea. We created our own free streaming music app (no ads or subscription fee) with the hopes of gaining traction rapidly and attracting advertisers onto our platform.

Describing our music player in a nutshell, it displayed other people’s “moments” (hence our first company name: Moment.Us) with the song you were currently listening to so that you can experience what they experienced when they were listening to that same song. This created a more social and connected music listening experience and was a fun way to discover new music socially, an idea that I still hope gets implemented in the future by one of the larger players (ie. Spotify, Google, etc). The app was also beautiful, which was usually the first thing a new user would tell us. It was iOS 7 flat design before iOS 7 was released by Apple. So we thought we had everything tied down: the concept, the platform and the music licenses. Now all we needed was to convince brands to start putting their ads in there and we’d be in business because, I mean, how hard could it possibly be to attract a million users to our platform while giving away free full-length songs?

But what was that saying again? “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Yeah, that’s what happened to us. It wasn’t for lack of trying though, as our team did its very best to make it a success. But when we approached brands or advertisers, we ran into a few problems. The three most common were:

        1. They wouldn’t get on board without the user numbers
        2. They wanted to see proof that it worked before they committed
        3. They wouldn’t pay for the music royalties

We essentially ran into the 'chicken-and-egg' scenario in which we couldn’t get advertisers on board if we didn’t have enormous amounts of traction, but we wouldn’t be able to pay for the amount of music we were giving away unless we had revenue coming from the advertisers.

We also learned that giving away free music didn’t help sell the app (trying to buy word-of-mouth advertising) and that we actually needed money for marketing.

The numbers our app generated told a two-sided story:

In terms of user numbers to appease brands and get them on board, it was quite small. We managed to attract around 3000 users from the UK on word-of-mouth marketing as our app was limited to UK iOS users only (due to music license and resource restrictions).

However, in terms of engagement numbers, it was through the roof (higher than Facebook sponsored posts) and people found this way of music discovery extremely enjoyable.

Based on the feedback we received, we knew that our concept of using music to connect people was solid but the way we delivered it was just too expensive for anyone to buy into. So now what?

We had to pivot fast as we were running out of time and money. So we took our special sauce (our knowledge in connecting music with people’s experiences), threw out the delivery mechanism (the streaming music app) and started over again.

Music + Personality

We knew that our strength was linking music to people’s behaviours, experiences and identities so we decided to start there.

One of the key elements that people liked about our app was using music to determine someone’s state of mind. But what if we could also use music to determine not just someone’s state of mind at a particular time, but also their personality overall. This was actually a part of my PhD research; how music can be used to figure out people’s identities or personalities. The reason being that there really is nothing more personal than the music we listen to.

Armed with this new idea (and a new name: Preceptiv), we set off to verify that we could build such an engine. Drawing on previous academic research in this field, our mission was to turn raw quantitative music listening data into rich, insightful qualitative data that can be used to profile people’s personalities.

Why personalities you ask? Because we looked at the current state of the customer analytics market and they only profile users in two-dimensions - demographics and behaviours. However, the key to our technology is that it enables companies to profile their customers in three-dimensions by adding the key missing variable: psychometrics. This additional signal informs companies the motivations behind their customers’ actions and enables them to take the appropriate action to increase engagement, conversion and loyalty.

I’ll give you a very simple example: If Expedia knew that Joe (who’s 35 and lives in San Francisco) recently took a trip to Vietnam and they wanted to recommend him other places to visit, they’d probably suggest other trips to Southeast Asia just based on the fact that he went to Vietnam but not knowing what he did while he was there. However, if Expedia also knew that Joe is the adventurous type and likes thrills (because of his personality type), they could also send him more relevant and meaningful recommendations such as a safari trip to Africa or a volcano hiking excursion in Hawaii (which is closer to home for him). It’s been scientifically proven that a key aspect of what drives us through life and motivates our actions is through our personality. Being able to tap into this insight is incredibly powerful, and to do it on mobile devices (instead of solely on the web) is a dream for most companies.

This is actually what our secret sauce is all about and why we’re extremely excited about our pivot. We’ve cracked how to gather all of this data on mobile devices in seconds, with the same accuracy as a 50-question personality test, and without the user having to provide any input manually. It only takes minutes to harness the power of our technology, as its just a simple SDK being dropped into a mobile app. However, we realize that music is subjective so we need to continue collecting data, testing and refining our model in order to provide as accurate a view about people’s personalities as possible.

And that’s what we’re doing right now. Once we prove this works, there are a whole range of applications and companies that could benefit from the results of our experiment (we’re currently targeting the retail, financial and travel verticals). We’ve had great responses so far, trialling the technology with a few companies and getting useful feedback to refine our model. But we’re not done yet. All of this work is required for our journey towards the holy grail of startups: product / market fit. It’s taken us quite a while to get to this point, with a lot of twists and turns, but it’s definitely been worth it.

Moment.Us Teams Up with 7digital to Deliver a Unique Music Experience

7digital provides Moment . Us, a new streaming radio and music discovery app, with over 25 million tracks. The Moment.Us app allows users to discover music using emotions, environments, and experiences to tailor playlists.



7digital, the leading open digital music platform, today announced a partnership with Moment.Us Ltd., making its library of 25 million tracks available via Moment.Us’ streaming radio and music discovery app. The Moment.Us app allows users to discover music in a new way by using emotions, environments and experiences to tailor playlists. Unlike other streaming radio services that only use musicology, the app learns from contextual data such as pictures, locations and weather to personalise music.

“We wanted our app to be as simple as turning on the radio, but smart enough to deliver music that is personalised to what you want to hear, exactly at that moment”, says Andrew Ko, CEO of Moment.Us.  “The Moment.Us app offers a different kind of music discovery experience. The app can visualise how each song has touched the user’s life by capturing their most significant moments with music.  Our aim is to bring playlists to life!”

Ben Drury, CEO of 7digital comments, “We want to work with companies like Moment.Us that concentrate on delivering the best music experience in a creative way. The history of music and radio demonstrates that targeted services for music fans have an important place in the market. The Moment.Us app will offer a new music experience and we are excited that our API and streaming platform is behind this.”

7digital’s feature rich API allows partners a legally licensed offering to choose between a number of software methods and a global catalogue of over 25 million songs from all the major and independent music label distributors and aggregators. The 7digital API already provides digital music services to hundreds of partners globally including Samsung, BlackBerry, Microsoft, HTC, Sonos and now, Moment.Us.

The Moment.Us application is available to download free from the UK iTunes App Store.

Read the press release here

Guest Post from Moment.Us

Last week one of our startups, Moment.Us, held a private testing session at  TechHub Manchester. Fueled by pizza, music, and the chance to play with new technology, the testers scrutinised every aspect of the app and wrote all their thoughts down. These types of events are crucial to a startups growth, and so it's always worthwhile to reflect back on how it went, what was learnt, and what to do next time. Over to Ioana Craescu, the Marketing & Comms Leadto tell us how it went. 

momentus photo

"Recently we had our second Private Beta testing session for the Moment.Us music app at our lovely office at TechHub Manchester. We’d like to thank again everyone for attending the session! The things that we loved the most were not only your enthusiasm and curiosity to play with the app, but also that this lead to great questions and great conversations.

The highlights of the afternoon:

  • We had some time before we started the testing session to chat a bit with Bernardo, Niyati, Karen, Katie, Haider, Carys and Adam. Hope you guys will also keep us updated with your projects!
  • We made a bit of noise in the office, but this is one thing that we love about TechHub – creative environment all the way!
  • The Moment.Us team all wore for the first time the white t-shirts Fiafo made for us (thanks guys!)
  • It was lovely to see Max, Vlad and Toni so relaxed, confident and communicative!!
  • On the same note, the members of the Moment.Us team who talk a lot (who could that be?) welcome Max into the gang! Don’t ever interrupt your flow.
  • We were happy to have David online from Toronto, even if he was conditioned by where we would take the flat screen to
  • Thanks everyone for trying to be as critique as possible – we need  the things that you don’t like the same way we need the ones that you love!
  • Thanks for being patient to go through some steps more than once
  • Thanks for putting down on paper every detail that you found relevant (yes, Katie, even wondering if it’s your finger or our app). You’d be surprised to know how helpful that can prove to be!
  • We appreciate that everyone asked us questions whenever they felt we could help with more information
  • Thanks for feeling confident to share any idea about what features you’d like to see build in future versions (like radio stations from World War II – crazy, but neat!)

If you’ve enjoyed it, come again! You’re always welcome to stop by TechHub or drop us on email for a coffee downtown. And don’t forget to tell us that on Twitter or on our Moment.Us Facebook page with a Like, comment, share or however you feel more comfortable expressing it.

Soon enough we won’t be talking about testing sessions, guys! You’ll be able to download the app yourselves and your friends and, wow.. isn’t that exciting!? Don’t forget to Subscribe to our mailing list (you’ll find the form at the bottom of our website) to be the first who finds out when we release more exciting stuff.

Keep in touch



You can see the original Moment.Us post and lots more on their blog, here

“Living life is fun and we’ve just begun…”

The Moment.Us family officially grew by three members this week, as they added Sarah Krug, Maksim Fedotov and Toni Barta to their team. They join co-founder Andrew Ko,  systems architect Mihai Ionescu, and Chief Technology Officer David Ko at their current HQ in TechHub Manchester.The three new members are from the University of Manchester, with Maksim and Toni being computer science students. Their job will be making sure the Moment.Us platform is smarter than everything else out there, so no pressure guys. Sarah is in the midst of her MBA degree, so she’s an expert at making sure the team have enough money in the bank to pay the bills, as everyone needs a working kettle. And in true Moment.Us style, the soundtrack to this post is We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.

New Moment.Us Interview

huddled is a site dedicated to business news in the North West. Launched in January 2013, huddled is created by a team of North-West based journalists dedicated to providing up-to-date news relating to local companies and issues that affect businesses in the area. Most recently, huddled interviewed the brains behind Collider12 startup Moment.Us, which you can watch below.