Editor’s Note: It’s with immense pride that we announce that ZappiStore as the winner of the 2nd Phase of the Insight Innovation Competition, which was held during the Insight Innovation Exchange event in Sao Paulo. They Join Phase 1 winners Decooda and the 13 runner-up companies (as well as almost 40 other contenders) that have benefited from participating in our efforts to identify and support innovative entrepreneurs in the insights space.
Phase 3 of the Competition will launch next week and finalists will present at the Insight Innovation Exchange in Philadelphia June 17-19th. In this next round we’ll be lining up an extensive ecosystem of potential foundational clients, strategic investors, and funding partners in a type of “growth marketplace” to further accelerate participating companies. We’re very excited about what we’re putting together, so stay tuned for more announcements on that next week.
Brian Tarran of Research.live was first out of the gate with an interview and feature with Stephen Phillips of ZappiStore. His coverage was so good that I asked him if we could simply repost it to give ZappiStore the PR they deserve, and he graciously agreed.
UK — Spring Research’s Stephen Phillips has won a $20,000 investment for his new venture ZappiStore, which offers a range of automated online research apps.
ZappiStore won the Insight Innovation award, run by Greenbook, at the recent Insight Innovation Exchange LatAm conference, beating 40 other competitors.
Phillips describes the new venture as an attempt to streamline and automate the process of testing new product concepts, ad creative and other ideas.
Its site allows visitors to select what they want to test and to choose their audience (based on number of people, geographic location, age, gender and other variables). The creative being tested then needs to be uploaded before a pre-defined survey is sent to respondents.
The price of the project depends on the sample selected. A new product test involving 200 UK adults aged 18 to 75 would cost £1,195 and take four hours to turn around, rising to £3,384 and 13 hours for a survey of 1,100 people.
Phillips said that in early conversations, clientside researchers have been particularly enthusiastic about the speed of turnaround. “My sense is that clientside researchers are annoyed at being left out of things because the research process is seen as taking too long,” he said.
“They want to get more involved in helping design products, test concepts and develop business ideas. But when they say, ‘We can do some research for you that will really help, so could you just stop the process for four weeks?’, the project sponsor will refuse. It’s not that they doubt the value of research, but that’s just not the way business works anymore.”
To get ZappiStore off the ground, Spring has partnered with SwissPeaks on survey development and Intellection on data reporting. SSI provides the automated sampling of respondents.
ZappiStore’s apps are currently available in the UK, Australia and the US, but Phillips said that the $20k prize money will be put towards developing French and German-language versions of the surveys.
Further apps are in development, Phillips said. “I’d like to think that by this time next year there’ll be a portfolio of 10 or so apps for people to buy.”
ZappiStore is looking to automate and reduce the cost of large swathes of quant work. Clients like the idea, Phillips says – but other agencies might not be so keen.
“A couple of years ago, I was explaining the ZappiStore concept to someone and they said, ‘If you pull this off you’ll become the most hated man in market research,’” says Stephen Phillips, founder of Spring Research. ZappiStore is his new company and it aims to automate and reduce the cost of a lot of the generic quant work that is bread-and-butter for a large number of market research agencies – hence the very real possibility that success will be met with resentment.
Since winning the IIC Award, Phillips is turning his attention to building a client base for the firm, which soft-launched several weeks ago and offers a range of online research apps for testing creative ideas (see news story for more detail). We caught up with Phillips to find out how the idea for ZappiStore came about and how big the business opportunity really is.
BT: ZappiStore is very different from your other businesses, Steve. What got you started down this path?
SP: The idea came about several years ago. Spring – primarily a qual company which does a lot of work around communication development – wanted to come up with a new approach to ad testing. We believed that a lot of ad testing was too rational – and I liked the more emotional measures like BrainJuicer’s Face Trace and Conquest’s Metaphorix – so we thought we’d come up with something of our own. The idea we hit on was using emoticons as a way of gauging the emotional impact of advertising.
We took this to clients and they were generally complimentary, but they’d say things like, “We’ve been doing Link tests (or something similar) for years, we have our database of norms and – while I like what you’re saying – it’s not different enough to genuinely change the way I deal with my advertising campaigns”.
I came home one night and thought to myself, “Why is it that we are constantly trying to innovate around methodology? Maybe it’s not about methodology, but about price and time – and that’s where we should be innovating.”
So the idea for ZappiStore is what I would describe as, “Great research, automated”. It allows you to do great research in 5% of the time or at 5% of the cost.
BT: What’s the target audience for this service?
SP: When we first started thinking about this, we identified three target audiences: ad agencies, because they need to do things quickly and cheaply; big clients, who are not so price-sensitive but are increasingly time-sensitive; and SMEs, who we thought would be the main audience.
You’ll remember the debate at MRS Annual Conference last year when a couple of SMEs got up to say, “We don’t do much MR. We’d like to work with MR companies but they’re not that interested in us.” And, to be honest, the client–agency set up means that if you’re a company that has £20k to spend on research in 2013 then none of the big firms and most of the mid-size agencies just aren’t that interested in you. Maybe independent consultants might be, but even then you wouldn’t be high on their target list as you can probably only afford to do one, maybe two, projects in a year. But with Zappi, you could do eight or 10 projects.
So SMEs were definitely seen as the core target audience for us, but as we’ve gone through development we’ve realised that big companies are incredibly interested too, so we’ve changed our focus.
BT: Why is that? Was pricing still an issue for SMEs or is it just that the demand within large companies is bigger than you thought it would be?
SP: The enthusiasm among big companies was greater than we anticipated. To be honest, we know more of them so it’s an easier sell. Getting out to the SME market will require a lot more work and PR efforts. But big clients are very enthusiastic about being able to turn things around so quickly: being able to come up with a new idea for a product in the morning, to test and get results back and change what they’re doing in the afternoon… That’s the pace of business now.
BT: What does success for ZappiStore look like?
SP: We’ve looked at the Esomar global research study and done our own market sizing study in the US, and we believe that the market we’re playing in, the work that we can automate, is a $3bn–$5bn slice of the market research market.
In three to five years time, I believe that large swathes of that market will be automated and running on some similar system to Zappi; systems that are fast-turnaround and inexpensive compared to what is available now.
What proportion of that market Zappi eventually takes? I don’t know. But we are the pioneers, so we have an advantage.