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Thrive is set up by Funding London, a venture capital company bridging the finance gap for early stage businesses based in London. With over a decade’s experience in supporting the startups of London through a variety of funding vehicles, Funding London sensed a need to illuminate the ever-evolving scenario of London’s early stage businesses.

Thrive features interviews with and opinion from budding entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts. A mix of contributors from all areas of the industry is desired in order to spark genuine discussion about ongoing critical issues. While it showcases the effectiveness of successful ventures, it also encourages sharing lessons learned from missteps and unsuccessful projects.

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Growth · 1 March '22

Well, nobody was expecting that…

As a business that started up in 2019, we had an incredible first year.  We had quite literally just commenced a world tour – evangelising our predictive optimisation AI, before Covid stopped play and then overnight the world went quiet and like all businesses we had no idea what to expect when we locked down in March 2020.

Now, as we emerge blinking into the daylight with a degree in hindsight, following our 3rd year of  pandemic, we can see that consumer habits have changed forever.  As it happened, growth in brands direct to consumer (D2C) activities and consumer e-commerce over the last few years proved ultimately to be invaluable for us. And as we turf over the learnings from our rear-view mirror, one thing is blindingly apparent, we were very, very lucky – a case of being the right solution, in the right place, during a time of extremes.

Dragonfly AI is a new artificial intelligence (AI) technology based on the human brain’s system one (the natural processes of the brain) visual biological function (that’s the bit that helps us prioritise what we see) – in short, we can ingest any form of content and using a combination of heatmapping and metrics, modelled on the human brain’s actual biological algorithm, we can predict what grabs consumer attention in the first micro-seconds of engagement.

Our early pre-pandemic conversations with brands and their creative service agencies were encouraging, suggesting the huge value they would place on a solution, which removed bias from the creative process on-and-offline, instantly predicting how their brand content was likely to perform and letting them iterate design until it is fully optimised.

Over the lockdowns we developed a new generation of tools and forecasting reports which can now predict creative performance across packaging, point of sale, online, and video. Additionally we have just launched our Amazon bestseller ranking reports, which help brands to understand their current product category rankings and more importantly how to improve them.

Dragonfly AI is artificial intelligence for good. We don’t like the word disruption because we believe it has negative connotations, instead we see Dragonfly as an augmentation to predicting creativity. A complete solution that’s making a significant difference for our clients, who we train to use it so they can leverage advantage and ensure content is “human-ready” wherever it comes into contact with consumers.  Unlike other solutions which use machine learning comparisons, or actual humans, our tech is agile, simple to deploy and achieve results from, and is unlimited in use so you really can design for performance.

Although it’s super cool and easy to use technology, perhaps more importantly our clients are reporting some pretty impressive figures in terms of what the solution has been doing for them: sales increases of 17-60%; reduction in time to market; and taking out cost from the creative production process.  Learn more in our How to Win Attention in the Digital Aisle guide.

From the perspective of Dragonfly’s Co-Founder Mark Bainbridge, “After over three decades as a CMO, I’ve always understood the value that Dragonfly can add to pre-market creative evaluation, which has always been a case of “I like this, you like that” driven by subjective bias, which is exactly that.  So, to have a toolbox which allows us to understand what the consumer sees not just first, but in what sequence, is a game changer and when brand and agency people see it for the first time the lean-in is almost immediate.”

The business has expanded over the pandemic years, luck augmented with a lot of hard work from the founding team and support from the FSE Group’s London team, we were able to access debt financing from the Greater London Investment Fund (GLIF) which has accelerated our growth plans.

From equally visionary pre-money early adopter clients (GSK, Highland Spring and Visit Britain) the founder team of four now numbers over twenty staff, and three years later, we are working with over 50 blue-chip corporate brands across fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), retail and marketing service agencies.  Those early partnerships have flourished to global relationships with revenue expansion from Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific; and most notably the USA which forms 22% of current proceeds and is a major part of the Dragonfly AI’s growth objectives for 2022.

Dragonfly AI’s CEO Richard Mann’s view on the drivers of growth is clear, “Given the circumstance we are both humbled and delighted to have achieved so much over the last three years from launch. Without doubt working with intelligent funders from the GLIF team to achieve investment funding has been a vital component of our strategic growth, the investment has allowed us to do a number of things including accelerating our US launch, technology roadmap, hiring some awesome talent and ensuring that our brand presence is second to none.