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Why we invested in Black Swan Data

Earlier in the summer, we announced our investment in Black Swan Data, a UK-headquartered social intelligence and consumer behaviour prediction software business that de-risks product innovation processes.

Here’s a summary of why we are super excited to have led the company’s $18.5m growth financing round and partnered with the fantastic Black Swan team:

Market research in product development and innovation has been common practice for some time, but the way Black Swan Data approaches it is revolutionary and meets the needs of today’s forward-thinking consumer brands: Black Swan Data gathers unstructured data from disparate sources (HuffPost, Reddit, The Wall Street Journal, Twitter, Amazon reviews, to name a few), and using its proprietary AI technology, provides predictive insights by aggregating and synthesising information that influences perspectives, rather than searching for insights to validate a pre-existing perspective. Without requiring an initial hypothesis to begin with, it enables the world’s leading consumer brands to spot unknown unknowns, i.e. black swans earlier than their competitors.

As we were speaking with traditional market research agencies, new-gen tech players, as well as Black Swan’s current and potential customers, we quickly realised that Black Swan stands out from the crowd in two areas in particular: 1) its unmatched forward-looking trend prediction capability at a level of granularity that is actionable 2) it being a constant and core part of innovation processes.

Most new consumer products fail, leading to billions in losses in revenue, in addition to R&D costs. Yet, consumer brands need to continue to innovate and respond to ever changing demands faster than ever. Traditional market research methods don’t go far in de-risking innovation as they don’t allow brands to act with the speed and accuracy required to stay ‘ahead of the game’. Most traditional methods are prone to confirmation, selection and framing biases (among others), are expensive and have long lead-times whereas Black Swan offers an always-on, dynamic and unbiased view of emerging trends, and even more importantly, scientifically predicts and prioritises what’s ‘Now’ and ‘Next’ with an unmatched accuracy rating. We’ve heard from various Black Swan customers that “there is no alternative to Black Swan when it comes to providing forward looking insights”.

Black Swan is also truly differentiated in how embedded and core it has become in the world’s best consumer brands’ innovation processes. Fast growing internal Insights teams are procuring and connecting best of breed intelligence tools and primary research software as the trend towards in-sourcing Insights continues. Whilst these ROI-hungry buyers frequently switch between market research and survey providers depending on their needs at the time, Black Swan stays constant as the core Insights workflow system and something “innovation/R&D teams are required to incorporate in order to be able to proceed with a new product launch,” hearing which was music to our ears.

The new investment will be used to expand commercial operations into the US market and augment the functionality of their software platform (Trendscope) even further, which will take the business to a position of true category leadership. We couldn’t be more excited to join and support Black Swan’s journey in their next phase of growth!

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