Profile: Duel – the tool that’s revolutionising the use of user-generated content for brands

Find out how this tech startup went from Turkey-only fame to international success with clients including Twitter and Unilever
18th October 2016

Recent research from Campaign magazine has stated that 66% of consumers have more trust in customer photos than in a brand’s own marketing, while Digiday has found that online adverts with customer-generated content, generate a 5x greater click through rate.

“There’s been a bottom-up earthquake and brands have got to rethink or topple.”

 

One company that already knows this is Bristol-based Duel, an award-winning tech startup that’s built an innovative content management system that’s revolutionising the booming use of consumer content – to better utilise everything from user-generated videos and product photos to opinions and ideas.

Paul-Archer-daredevilprojectWe caught up with Duel’s Founder, Paul Archer (pictured right) to find out how the startup has achieved international popularity – first as a competitive photo-duelling app and, a tweak or two later, as a hugely successful and celebrated content tool – with huge brands on board including Bristol-based YouTube stars The Yogscast, Unilever and the O2 Arena.

Real advertising

Kicking things off in style, Paul tells us: “Social media is the new news. YouTubers are the new celebrities for sponsorship. User-generated content is the new advertising. There’s been a bottom-up earthquake and brands have got to rethink or topple.

“We work with brands to collect and manage user-generated content and then repurpose it effectively to drive sales”

 

“We work with brands to collect and manage user-generated content and then repurpose it effectively to drive sales. We incentivise a brand’s audience in various ways to share their best content through Duel and automate the process of collection, moderation and sorting of content, with permissions from the customers to be reused in advertising.

“The result is user-generated content at e-commerce point of sale, display ads and digital out-of-home adverts showing real people using a brand’s products.”

Turkey to the top

Duel was developed in Bristol’s creative and digital hub, the Pervasive Media Studio and nurtured by web startup incubator, Web Start and the global number 1 university business incubator, SETSquared. But as well as Duel’s huge success attracting support, it has had some incredible stories from its journey along the way.

“We listened to what brands were telling us they needed, and then built the solution”

 

Paul tells us: “Duel is the result of two and a half years of constantly testing and iterating upon an idea. Believe it or not, it started out as a content-driven real life game that I came up with whilst on an around the world expedition. Then, via an iOS app that was a big hit in (and only in!) Turkey, it’s now the all singing and all dancing content platform it is now. We listened to what brands were telling us they needed and then built the solution.”

Commenting on some of Duel’s most recent series of successes, Paul adds: “Recently we’ve been working with the likes of Unilever, Twitter and Star Wars to mention a few.

“However our biggest success of the year so far has been winning Gold Publicis90 in Paris. It was a great event, socialising with other tech startups but also multi-national brands and agencies. We’re excited about the mentorship with some top people at one of the largest marketing and communications agencies in the world.”

How to succeed

But with success comes responsibility, and keen to share some of the best ways to avoid startup pitfalls, Paul gives his advice: “Number one, learn how to code. Number two, go and work for a startup. Learn your trade.

“This is especially key for students graduating. You would never decide to start a carpentry business without ever doing an apprenticeship for a carpenter, so why should running a tech business be any different?

duel-at-like-minds-bristol
Knowledge sharing: Inga Driksne, Duel’s Head of Client Relations,
speaking at Bristol’s Like Minds innovation and ideas festival
 

“Find an entrepreneur you respect and beg them to give you a job or an internship. We’re actually actively seeking amazing graduates who want to do this. If you fancy it, track me down and ask for a job.”

Bristol and beyond

Over three years of hard work and the Duel team now have an additional office in London. And with an ever-expanding list of impressive clients, we were keen to find out what’s next.

“We love Bristol and although we now also have an office in London, it’s where our heart will always be”

 

Paul says: “We love Bristol and although we now also have an office in London, it’s where our heart will always be. Bristol is a free-thinking city where independents beat chains. You can’t help but be inspired by the culture.”

“The market for user-generated content is hot so we’re growing our team in Bristol and London to support a more aggressive take on the market. The next development for Duel will be branching out into the U.S. It’s going to be a very exciting next couple of years.”

Find out more about career opportunities and more at Duel by checking out the Duel website and getting in touch via their contact form. You can also stay up to date by following them on Twitter: @duel.