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.

When Applying to an Accelerator

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The application process is two-fold: the written questionnaire, and the interview. The written questionnaire is the application form on F6S you’ve been slaving over. The interview is when we’ll meet face to face. Here are some tips to help with the process.

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Written Questionnaire

Just as intimidating as a first date. Well, a virtual one.

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Check, Re-write it

Just as Daft Punk’s creepy robot says, check re-write it. The best applications have been edited by a trusted outsider. A good reviewer will make sure you’ve answered the question, breaking through your tunnel vision and taking your application to the next level.

Show me how

This is your time to shine. Investors know that putting their hard-earned cash into early-stage startups is risky. Every bit of supporting evidence that you can offer to investors decreases the risk of your business a little. How many customers have you interviewed? How many beta customers do you have? How much are brands already spending on products similar to yours? How quickly is the market growing? What is your track record in this field?

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Tell me your Problems

It’s all good fun to tell us about your business, how it works and where it fits in the market. But what makes it stand out is if you can explain the original problem. “Stand-out startups are those who can clearly articulate and amplify the specific customer pain-point that they are solving. They bring it to life and put the investors in the shoes of the customer,” so says Miles, our Startups Champion. Explain concisely and stay on point and you’ll have our attention from the get-go.

The Video 'Selfie'

Here’s where your personality comes through – it’s been nicknamed the ‘video selfie’. This is how we get a feel for you as a person, so let your personality shine through. Carl from LivingLens agrees: “The 1 minute video is key. Make sure you portray your drive, enthusiasm and stubbornness.”

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Interview Process

We like you already. That’s why you’re here for an interview. The hard stuff is almost over…

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Content: Know your Sh*t

Being prepared is of the utmost necessity. Come knowing your product backwards and forwards. Be ready to expand on your answers from your written application. Know your numbers, your competitors, your timeline inside out. Yes you’re a startup, but you’re still a professional.

We reckon you can cover everything off in 7 slides. Don’t make them text heavy, they should be presentation enhancers. Live demos are a no-no. Your tech will fall over. The internet will break. But do sneak in a screenshot or two.


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Style: Bring your Flair

When you’re presenting, keep it clear and concise. Only one person from your team should present, but make sure everyone is briefed for the Q&A. If you’re presenting, make sure you’ve rehearsed. A lot. You should be able to recite it in your sleep. Record yourself, practice in front of a mirror, or transcribe it.

Let your personality shine through. The beauty of interviews is the uninhibited communication – be confident and be yourself. Remember non-verbal communication plays a large role in your presentations, and we want to work with exciting and passionate people, not robots. Keep it real!



Interview with Unilever's Digital Planning Manager Alex Dinsdale

I recently caught up with Alexandra Dinsdale, a Digital Planning Manager for Unilever, who is currently a mentor for Collider. We discussed the Collider experience, top tips for startups, and the wider startup community which is blossoming in the UK.  1. Hi Alex, thank you so much for taking the time to have this chat. To start off, please can you explain what you do on a daily basis as Digital Planning Manager for Unilever?

I partner our global brand development teams helping plan strategic marketing programs across digital channels. This includes selecting technology solutions, services and partners, as well as enabling the brands and categories to surface and share best practices.

2. What are your favourite websites or apps at the moment?

I’m a big fan of, a website and app that brings together crowd-curated fashion, gadgets and places. Like Pinterest, it’s really visual and imagery-based, and I’m continually discovering weird and wonderful things that I want to buy, (but don’t necessarily need!). I also spend a lot of time using Flipboard on my iPad. The variety of stories, news, and content all brought together in a beautiful magazine format makes it very easy to become immersed.

3. What exciting ideas/prospects keep you awake at night?

Unilever’s ambition is to grow the business while reducing our environmental footprint and increase the positive contribution we make to society. For me, the opportunity to make Sustainable Living the centre of a brand’s proposition and find innovative ways to get these messages to our consumers is an incredibly exciting challenge. As technologies rapidly evolve, and consumption of media changes, there’s always a new opportunity to pilot something that’s not been done before.

4. What things might be a clincher when considering a deal with startups?

BRING MAGIC! Seeing real passion, energy and focus in the team. Also to keep it simple. Work out what the company stands for, and stick to this with a clear, targeted proposal.

5. Do you have any major no-nos in terms of pitches?

Do not baffle the audience with figures and science. Understand why your proposition would benefit the recipient in a clear, transparent approach.

6.  Accordingly, any things that you like to see during pitches?

To hear why the proposition is new and unique and how it could grow. Startups have the luxury of being able to adapt and change quickly. It would be great to see hunger, passion and agility come through during the pitch.

7. What are your opinions on startups knowing their figures and how exact they should be?

It’s important to have considered the revenue model so they are aware of their base costs, how they are able to monetize, and to be very aware of their audience. Ultimately who the proposition will appeal to. Firm figures aren’t completely necessary as they may change depending on the customer. Being open to further guidance is good.

8. What are your views on the UK startup scene, especially when compared with America?

The UK startup scene is very fresh and exciting. We worked with Betapond on our Waterworks initiative and were really impressed by their work, knowledge and ethos. For certain projects, the flexibility and new thinking startups offer is a great asset, as well as the ability to run fast and respond quickly. The US scene is more mature and better established. There is a huge amount to learn from the US globally.

9. What experience and feedback from mentoring process at Collider?

It has been a tremendously interesting experience. I am relatively new to ventures and startups, so it has been eye-opening in many ways. The startups I’ve mentored have asked great questions and are very receptive to feedback. I’ve loved seeing the updates and progress made between sessions. The video introductions were a great way to meet the startups initially and quickly gain a clear idea of who the team are and their business.

Thank you so much Alex, and we look forward to continuing to work with you. 

Fuelling Your Spooky Startup; a Halloween Special

We had a great event last night at TechHub Manchester which explored the different funds that are available to startups. On our panel to discuss this was Doug Stellman from Enterprise Ventures, Darren Westlake the CEO of CrowdCube, Andrew Ko the co-founder of Manchester startup Moment.Us, and Rose Lewis the co-founder of Collider. With representation ranging from venture capital to crowd funding, the discussion was lively with plenty of questions from the audience. There was a lot of discussion around what investors look for in startups, what stage a startup needs to be at to raise finance, as well as more grueling questions concerning the pros and cons of accelerators, crowd funding, and venture capital. There was a lot of tweeting, so be sure to head over to our account to take a look at some of the responses.


We love coming to Manchester and will definitely return soon with more pizza, beer, and lively startup debate. Thanks to TechHub for putting us up for the evening, and thanks to everyone who came along instead of trick-or-treating!

Doug, Rose, and Andrew

As a final reminder, there are only SIX DAYS left until our application closes, so head over to our application page to apply!

Are Product Days Productive?

Sometimes you just need to knuckle down and get some work done. But what's the best way to do this? And what about all the other stuff you need to do before you can even start? Well, yesterday Seeker had a Product Day, and so I decided to catch up with the Founder and CEO, Daniel Wilson, to see how (and whether) it works.


1.       What is a product day ?

A product day is a full day when we step out of our regular roles to understand what we’ve got in the product, where we are as a business, and what we want to do over the next 3-6 months.  It gives us a chance to think about our tech and our customers at a higher level.

2.       Why did you arrange it?

The main point was to stop any silos of purpose and knowledge building up, as we’re all working semi-independently because there aren’t many of us.  We need to all be working on the same plan, or we won’t make the right sort of progress.


3.       What did you want to achieve from it ?

We took an inventory of features built, we planned the next 3 months major features to build (develop, or dev), everyone knows our goals around sales and investment

4.       What methods did you use and which ones work best?

We used lots of brainstorming, and we had bits of cardboard and sticky notes, which allowed us to move our ideas around afterwards into more logical groupings.  We used the important/urgent matrix (which is one of my very favourite things) to prioritise our work.

5.       What did you actually achieve?

A sense of purpose and a to do list.

6.       What's the next step?

Today the tech guys are sizing the dev work and planning iterations, and I’m starting to work on more heavily on our sales website, because we realised it was a major blocker to a lot of other work we wanted to do.

7.       Any advice you'd give to startups now in hindsight?

Do more prep than you were going to (My section on “state of the nation” was harder to talk through off the cuff than I had thought), and expect to go through fewer items in the agenda: This is really the time to have those discussions that normally get glossed over, e.g. what’s more important, a new feature or fixed bugs, or sales collateral.