Editor’s Note: The Insight Innovation Competition is one of the accomplishments I am most proud of during my time with GreenBook. We’ve helped a lot of companies launch and make a difference in this industry and perhaps most importantly, in the lives of the dedicated teams who have brought their visions to life. Since we’re prepping now to begin accepting submissions for our 2016 EU and North American competitions, it seemed appropriate to check in with past winners and see what’s changed since their wins. Gregg Archibald of Gen2 Advisors (full disclosure, Gen2 does work with many of these companies in an advisory role as part of their wins in the competition) is leading that effort, and here is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series showcasing these very cool innovators.
By Gregg Archibald
Welcome to the first installment of a new series that focuses on companies that won the IIEX Competition. Over the next several months, we will be interviewing these companies to discuss their place in the insights industry – successes, growing pains, advice, and other good stuff.
Our first installment features Parry Bedi, CEO of Glimpzit (formerly SocialGlimpz). Glimpzit won the European IIeX Competition in 2014.
Tell us, in a few words, what your business is all about.
As evident by the rise of platforms such as Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram, visuals have become the de facto language of mobile consumers. GlimpzIt is a visual dialogue platform that enables researchers and marketers to speak this language. More specifically, we enable brands to have in the moment, 1-on-1 conversations with consumers – conversations for the purposes of gathering insights, soliciting rich user generated content and running fun interactive campaigns.
Our strength lies in the fact that we have taken the best of MR methodologies (e.g. direct solicitation, screeners, targeting) and married it with the strength of cutting edge technologies (e.g. computer vision, crowdsourcing and mobile machine sensing) to provide an offering that is quick, agile and cost effective.
What has changed for your business since winning the competition?
When we won the competition, GlimpzIt was little more than an idea in our heads. We had a primitive version of our platform and were manually supporting our initial clients. A lot has changed since then:
Our goal has always been to democratize access to insights. To that end, we just recently launched a completely free version of our platform. Now anyone can use the GlimpzIt platform to start a conversation and receive responses in the form of words, images and videos in real-time.
We are also continuing to receive a tremendous amount of customer and investor support. Our latest round was oversubscribed and we ended up closing $1.1M in equity financing backed by some of the very well known funds and industry veterans. From a customer perspective, we have over 30 well-known brands (from media powerhouses such as NBC to mid size digital marketing firms such as Tahzoo and established MR firms such as Research Now) actively using our platform.
Best of all, we finally moved out of our COO’s basement into a real commercial office!
Where do you see your business going in the next couple of years?
We firmly believe that the next few years will be transformative, not only for GlimpzIt but for the industry as a whole. Computer vision and analysis technology will further mature and visuals will become a means of communication on par with modern languages. Visuals, in fact, have the added advantage of transcending cultural, national and linguistic barriers. Our hope is to continue to capitalize on these secular trends of our time with an offering that is compelling by virtue of its simplicity, elegance and speed.
What has taken you by surprise?
When we started a little over a year ago, people questioned the value of visuals and mobile. We received questions such as “are mobile respondents a representative sample?” and “can a picture really tell me something about my consumer?” At the time, the extent of mobile’s value was to deliver the same old surveys, resized for a smaller screen. Visuals, as well, were just seen as an additional data collection mechanism for diary studies.
What’s amazing to see is how quickly the industry has changed. People have realized that we live in a mobile and visual first world, and have adopted innovative ways to leverage them. For example, asking demographic questions in a survey is redundant now when you can passively obtain metrics through mobile machine sensing. In some cutting edge cases, people are even using platforms like Periscope to obtain market intelligence. What’s most surprising (and encouraging) to us is the exponential speed of market adoption.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since winning the competition?
Clients like to be empowered. Partly due to where we were with our product, we started out with an outsourced approach to providing research services – we would gather requirements, go off, conduct our research and when done deliver results to the client. However, what we quickly learned was that clients, especially in-house researchers, wanted to get deeply involved in the process. They appreciated the data we generated, and the analysis and insights we derived, but also wanted to layer their expertise on top of it. We took that feedback seriously and improved our product so that users can take our analysis at face value or chose to add/modify as required. The platform regenerates dashboards on the fly with user changes. Needless to say this approach has been tremendously popular within the community.
What one piece of advice would you give a company getting started in the insights industry?
Be truly innovative. Platitude? Perhaps. But real innovation is hard and takes commitment. Let me explain.
Everyone loves the abstract kind of innovation – i.e. one that doesn’t fundamentally threaten their business model or way of doing things. For example, you will be hard pressed to find a company who does not claim to have the most innovative techniques, technologies and even culture as part of their mission statement. If they are big enough, then you most likely have a dedicated innovation department as well.
However if you scratch the surface, you will find that in the majority of instances, there is very little true innovation. The reason is that true innovation is extremely disruptive and it’s easy to mask incremental improvements as innovation. One of my favorites is when companies say, “We are truly mobile.” But once you dig in, you find what they have done is put the same old 50 question survey with grids galore on a tiny mobile screen!
True innovation involves entirely uprooting existing paradigms and inventing something brand new. Replacing existing methodologies might seem limiting, inadequate or even silly. For example, if someone told you in 2005 that an online social platform where you post 140 character messages would revolutionize communication, would you have believed them? In the faces of naysayers, you have to stay true to your vision, and if your idea is truly innovative, eventually customers will adopt your platform to the peril of the incumbents. Whatever you do, don’t lose focus or get disheartened and try to emulate the larger, more established companies.