14th May 2019 – The European startup ecosystem has reached a level of maturity that can support the creation of tech giants. We have knowledge derived from experience, networks that have transformed into communities, infrastructure to build on and smart capital. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve refined our mindset and scale of ambition. After years of encouragement to dream bigger, a new generation of bold European entrepreneurs is ready to compete on the global stage. This is the second in a series of conversations (first one available here) that showcase their visions and journeys.
When the opportunity to become an entrepreneur came along, Laura Urquizu didn’t hesitate. By the time she met Josep Coll – the founder of Barcelona-based Red Points – she had accumulated over 20 years of experience. Throughout her career in banking, consulting and VC, the unifying factor has always been her passion for digital transformation and technology. Joining Red Points was an opportunity for her to leverage everything she had learned over the years, most recently as an investor, to build her own category-defining company.
Red Points’ mission is to help companies take control of their goods and digital content. How? By using technology, rather than a service-based approach, to effectively detect and remove IP infringement on the internet. As Urquizu explains, Red Points’ proprietary software leverages artificial intelligence to continuously connect a targeted web crawler to a rules-based rights management database that learns from each account’s history and improves the level of protection over time. With the help of machine-learning tools, such as image recognition, they are able to process information retrieved across online marketplaces, websites and social networks. This large amount of information is then used to detect fakes, piracy or sellers online and take enforcement actions on behalf of customers.
The software currently removes more than 25,000 incidents of illegal products and content from the web each month, across global marketplaces and social networks for more than 600 customers. The global nature of Red Points’ approach is also reflected in their revenue: 51% coming from Europe (5% from Spain), 45% from the US and 4% from Latin America.
Asked about the defining characteristics of great entrepreneurs, Urquizu highlights passion, positivity and resilience, together with having a strategic mind and the ability to execute. Urquizu’s leadership is a testament to all of the above. Although she wasn’t there from the very start, it was under her lead that Red Points underwent a significant transformation, expanded its brand protection remit and shifted to a SaaS model. In doing so, the company got closer to becoming a household name in the brand intelligence market.
Miruna-Ioana Girtu: E-commerce is estimated to become the largest retail channel in the world by 2021, accounting for 14% of total retail sales. Could you please paint a picture of the scale of online counterfeiting and the sense of urgency around solving it?
Laura Urquizu: Counterfeiters’ presence on social media and e-commerce is difficult to deny. In fact, global sales of counterfeit and pirated goods are reported to have soared to €460 billion ($522 billion) a year, amounting to a staggering 3.3% of world trade, compared to the 2016 estimate of 2.5% of global trade. These issues are increasingly posing a major threat to economic growth and innovation.
Meanwhile, traditional IP enforcement methods are proving insufficient to cope with the sheer amount of fakes online, whilst copying techniques have also improved so much that some counterfeits now look just like the originals. The truth of the matter is that online sales make fakes even harder to spot.
Girtu: With Red Points automating the process from detection of IP infringement to enforcement, are there any stages where the human element remains crucial?
Urquizu: Yes, there are some aspects which still require human input, mainly to do with the platform implementation. For instance, our Customer Success Team works closely with our customers to define the scope of protection needed to meet their goals – which products to protect, the key marketplaces to cover, which social channels are the biggest problem, and any other specific needs.
Girtu: Online counterfeiting can affect many markets. How much breadth do you see in terms of the types of companies that use Red Points?
Urquizu: Many people think luxury goods are counterfeiters’ main target, but in fact these account for no more than five to ten percent of all counterfeit goods. Fakes are found in every category you can think of, from pharmaceutical products to software and even wind-turbine manufacturers. In fact, at Red Points, we protect a diverse set of brands including Bang & Olufsen, MVMT, and DOPE, among many others, which reflects how widespread the issue is.
Read the full article in Forbes.