From ‘scrappy start-up’ to global player

Meltwater founder and CEO Jørn Lyseggen.
Meltwater founder and CEO Jørn Lyseggen.

Cape Town – All Norwegian Jørn Lyseggen needed was $15 000 and a strong cup of coffee to start a tech business in a small Oslo office.

Founder and CEO of Meltwater, Lyseggen saw a gap in the plethora of information being published on the internet and in 2001 started a project to make sense of it all.

“We were two guys and a coffee machine and we started with $15 000 in 2001 in Oslo, Norway,” he told Fin24 on Thursday.  “Our first address was actually Shack 15, which we thought was a fitting name for a scrappy start-up.”

“We were motivated by the idea that there is so much information that is published online and it is just an impossible task to keep track of that manually, so you need software to do that,” he said.

Meltwater automatically mines and analyses online news and social media and helps executives understand their clients, their competitors and the industry.

“The product vision was that when executives come to work in the morning, they have their normal cup of coffee and within seconds, we can give them an overview of what happened in the last 24 hours,” he said.

In 2005, Meltwater moved its headquarters to San Francisco and they now have 50 offices across six continents – including Cape Town and Johannesburg - and employs over 1 000 staff.

Locally, they service companies such as FNB and the national cricket team, while abroad their clients include Google, Apple and even the Vatican.

After three years and $25m of investment, Lyseggen was in Cape Town this week to launch Meltwater’s latest software that creates a slick dashboard where executives can view everything from visual stats of their industry to online news and social media posts. Smart algorithms analyse a vast amount of data to provide high level visuals of specific industry information.

“Companies up until this point have spent an enormous amount of time and energy mining internal data, but they have very little information about what happens externally,” he said.

“So they have a blind spot to a wealth of information that you can see on a daily basis. We believe if you mine online news, if you mine social media, you can learn a lot about early indicators … that tell you something about the future.”

WATCH: Jørn Lyseggen on starting a tech start-up

WATCH: What Jørn Lyseggen looks for in employees

WATCH: Why Jørn Lyseggen loves Africa

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