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The ACE-List: Attention Architects

Get to know ACE startup founders & find out what drives them!

The ACE-List: We are proud and excited to introduce our awesome startup founders. The ACE-List is a regular installment where startup teams from the ACE Incubation Program will introduce themselves and share a little insight into their startup journey!

Meet the founders

Company: Attention Architects (founded 2018)
Industry: Research & Consultancy (Neuromarketing)

Team: 
Berno Bucker (CEO), PhD. Cognitive Neuroscience / Cognitive Psychology
Daniel Schreij (CTO), PhD. Artificial Intelligence / Cognitive Psychology
Prof. Jan Theeuwes (CSO), PhD. Human factors / Cognitive Psychology

In short

Attention Architects offers neuromarketing research solutions at an academic level. We study human behavior in natural environments instead of in labs, using state-of-the-art biometric measurement techniques.

Tell us more!

How did you come up with your startup idea?

At the department of Experimental and Applied Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam we were frequently contacted by companies or organizations that wanted us to answer several applied scientific questions for them. We soon realized that our knowledge and findings positively contributed to their business processes, communication practices and product designs. The apparent demand for our services and the great joy we get out of providing scientific solutions for commercial and applied issues made us start Attention Architects.

What is your company’s unique proposition?

We perform market research outside of the lab and thus are able to test consumers in a more natural environment. We quantitatively analyze the obtained data using scientifically proven methods and algorithms. Taken together, this ensures a higher ecological validity and greater predictive value for real-life situations compared to lab-based research that many competitors still revert to. In addition to questionnaires and observations (the status-quo in market research) we measure objective signals such as eye movements and brain activity to map out unconscious decision-making processes that are thought to underlie 95% of consumer behavior. To stay innovative and at the top of our game (high end of the market), we retain a close relationship with the university that provides a constant influx of the newest scientific knowledge and talent.

What has been your ACE moment? 

This was during a very ambitious and first-of-its-kind project at the Van Gogh museum. We let groups of adults and children look at Van Gogh paintings in the natural environment of the museum itself, while we measured their gaze with a mobile eye tracker. We found interesting differences between how the two age groups looked at the paintings, and this received a lot of national and international press coverage (it was for example featured in Het Parool, Science News and many more outlets). The massive amount of media interest was a big indicator for us that we had something good going on that is interesting for the general public.

What has the shift from academia to entrepreneurship been like for you? 

It’s a whole new world. The business aspects we are learning now are very intriguing and enticing, and at the same time very different from what we are used to in academia. We however think that our academic background is one of the strongest pillars of our company, and want to use it as a label for our services.

What is the best advice you could give someone who wants to start their own business?

Do it! (But don’t underestimate the effort it requires). A good idea is a great starting point for a company, but it won’t be successful if you don’t go out there to explore and develop your product or service. However, keep in mind that it requires a lot of effort and money to catch the interest of potential clients or important investors, and get things of the ground in general. This means you have to invest some of your own (unpaid) time at the beginning, but don’t let this be a discouragement.

What are your next steps for the coming months?

We want to learn as much as possible about starting and running a successful business at the ACE Incubation Program. Every week we learn something new that can be readily applied in the phase of development we are in at that moment. For us it is currently important to start reaching out to both old and new contacts, and determine if we can interest them in what we have to offer. The replies we get from the market are very important for the general course of our company in the next few months, and the strategies we choose to follow.

Want to know more about Attention Architects? Visit their website at www.attentionarchitects.com

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