Mark Jeffreys, 4Sight

4Sight is a company that “makes Big Data small” by mining businesses’ unfiltered, real-time user-generated content (such as social media, reviews, blogs) to identify competitive vulnerabilities, trends, and unmet needs. The company’s CEO is Mark Jeffreys, who was a former employee at Procter & Gamble.

Cincinnati Future spoke with Jeffreys about 4Sight.

Tell us what your company does.

Jeffreys: We mine user-generated content for insight, including social media posts or reviews. We’re starting to branch out into mining other types of data, like scientific data that might be needed for grants or patents and such.

Our mission is about discovering truth. We believe that when people post things online it’s a lot more authentic. It’s unfiltered. We might be sitting in a focus group and ask, ‘Oh, what do you think of this?’ but people might position their opinions a certain way because they’re concerned with the image of themselves that they project. There’s none of that online. People post real comments in their own voice and in their own words, which is very important. That unstructured data offers a huge amount of insights that are just waiting to be discovered.

We always start with: What is a brand’s business challenge? What is their main objective? What are some of the things keeping them up at night (brand challenges, consumer challenges, and so on.) A brand challenge might be something like a company losing market share because of a competitor launch, or a newly launched initiative that isn’t performing very well.

These are the three steps we take:

Extract—Whether it be in Reddit or in Reviews or maybe it’s on Facebook comments, it’s all public data. We mine anything in the public space.

Harness—Our algorithms take all of that unstructured data and structures it in a way to understand what the factors behind what consumers are saying; how are they saying it, and what the emotions behind it, etc.

Activate—This is strategic. I don’t care what anyone says, machines are not able to tell you everything. They can’t interpret strategy for you. We can say, ‘Okay, based on this data, here’s what we would recommend. Here are some vulnerabilities of your competitors, along with some of your strengths that you want to leverage.”

We enable brands to grow by looking at what consumers are saying and what their competitors are saying. We always say that any brand’s largest data set is online. That is eye-opening for a lot of companies.

Whom do you count among your clients? Is it all consumer goods?

Jeffreys: Mostly consumer goods. Companies like P&G, Nestle, Mars, and Clorox, but we do serve some medium-size companies as well.

How do you measure the results of your work with these brands?

Jeffreys: By the companies’ growth in sales. We’ve had brands whose share and sales were drastically declining. They brought us in because they didn’t really understand what was happening. As a result of the work we did to identify some of their value issues, they started to grow their sales in double-digits.

We’ve also worked with people who are looking to enter a specific market and just want to understand competitors and what the opportunities exist.

What are the advantages, beyond obviously your association with P&G, of being here in Cincinnati?

Jeffreys: The ecosystem here is incredibly strong and supportive. If somebody is looking to start a business and need some one-on-one help, the resources to help are available here.

Regardless of what type of function or role you’re looking to fill, the talent pool is strong. You’ll find good people regardless of what type of function that you’re looking for.

The third is the proximity to a lot of major companies and the connections to them via organizations like Cintrifuse, Children’s Hospital, P&G, Kroger and and CVG airport.

The quality of life and the cost of living are other advantages. Especially quality of life–as Cincinnati is one of only 13 cities in the country that has professional ballet, opera, symphony and theater and fine art museums. It’s a great place to live and build a company.