Insights U.K.


Beringea and CreativeX: Creating a world where creative decisions are enhanced by data

We’ve spoken with Anastasia Leng, founder and CEO of CreativeX, about her entrepreneurial journey and partnership with Beringea

Building a successful company rarely involves a journey from A to B, and Anastasia Leng is a founder that has embraced these twists and turns when scaling CreativeX, the rapidly growing creative analytics platform backed by Beringea’s U.K. funds.

After a five-year stint at Google “working on every adtech and analytics product” as well as Chrome and Google Wallet, Anastasia set out on her own to build Hatch, an e-commerce marketplace focused on customizable retail. This led to the first crossroads on the journey that Anastasia has since followed as an entrepreneur: Hatch had early success, but struggled with scaling its marketing efforts, and Anastasia and her team were soon following a path beyond e-commerce.

The problem lay in analysing the customer journey and understanding how the visual decisions they made impacted their users’ reactions and conversion. As Anastasia puts it, “we saw that imagery and video was fundamental to engagement and conversion, but we couldn’t understand why certain creative assets resonated with our users, but others didn’t. As engineers, we made fact-based decisions on everything, but we were making conjectural decisions on creative.”

This led Anastasia and her team to develop the first iterations of the platform that would become CreativeX: “to understand the creative in a more objective way, we started analysing patterns in all of the image and video content we were producing and tying it back to impact.” This shift in focus coincided with a vital shift in consumer habits, with the rise of Snap, Instagram and Pinterest fuelling a transformation in social media and online retail: “we were living in a display world, but we had no way of analysing it.”

This created a dilemma. “We were at a crossroads,” Anastasia recalls. “Our investors said: the problem of understanding creative content objectively, and at scale, is what every company who’s building a brand is struggling with.”

“When we looked at our team, our backgrounds were predominantly analytical, and we were excited about trying to create a product that brought creative expression and data closer together. We ignored acquisition offers for Hatch and took a term sheet to create this new company that didn’t even have a name.”

After a successful seed round and following the often “winding, meandering road” of finding product-market fit, Anastasia led her new venture to breakeven. This focus on profitability has always set Anastasia apart as a start-up founder, and it ensured that she was not “backed into a corner” when seeking her next round of investment. “We were able to prioritise identifying an investor who wouldn’t sacrifice our long-term vision for short-term gain.”

It was at this point that Eyal Malinger, Investment Director at Beringea, met Anastasia and the pair began a “thoughtful discussion” about the future of the business that unfolded over the course of twelve months. As Anastasia comments, “while long, this enabled us to build up a lot of trust and hit the ground running when we were ready to take investment.”

After securing £2.5m in a Series A led by Beringea’s U.K. funds, the thoughtful partnership between investor and founder has continued to develop. Anastasia stresses the importance of investors that can help entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls of early-stage growth: “after Series A, you’re trying to scale everything across the business and doing a lot of things for the first time — Beringea has done well to anticipate the sticking points in the journey where a founder can avoid sinking time into something unproductive or challenging.”

Anastasia also highlights the value of VCs who shun “investing by spreadsheet” adding that “often you talk to an investor, they make a model, and their interest level reflects the way you track against their model. The reality is that some businesses stick to the model, but loads don’t — often the best businesses don’t because they break the mold.”

CreativeX is now one of the fastest-growing companies in the Beringea portfolio, and testament to the value of embracing the winding path of an entrepreneurial journey. And there is plenty more left for the partnership between Beringea and CreativeX to achieve: “we feel that we’ve built a partnership with Beringea that will stay with us throughout our journey — Eyal and the Beringea team are people we want around the table for a long time to come.”

For information please visit www.beringea.com. If you would like to know more about our work with entrepreneurs and scaling SaaS businesses, please contact us at info@beringea.co.uk.

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