By Gregg Archibald
Welcome to the third 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.
This installment features Nico Jaspers, Co-Founder and CEO of Dalia Research. As CEO, Nico drives the strategic development of Dalia and coordinates partnerships with leading research agencies. Dalia Research won the European IIeX Competition in 2015 for the most innovative startup in Europe in the market research and consumer insights space.
We asked Nico to tell us, in a few sentences, what his business is all about.
First of all, I would like to thank the IIeX team for their wonderful work and for their great support in this exciting journey. To answer your question: Dalia develops mobile research and sampling solutions for the insights industry. Over the past two years, we’ve built a technology platform that enables research buyers to access millions of mobile respondents in over 80 countries around the world. Through a very large network of publishers, we’re currently able to access users in over 40.000 apps and mobile websites to participate in research surveys. We’re passionate about mobile because we believe that – with soon over four billion smartphone users around the world – you can’t generate representative, high-quality insights without mobile. We enable the research industry to get better data by reaching mobile.
What has changed for your business since winning the competition?
The IIeX competition is an extraordinary experience in many respects and we’d encourage all startups in the space to participate and interact with industry experts there. It is also a lot of fun. From a business perspective, the IIeX has given us a real boost: greater visibility that translated into new clients, including some of the world’s largest research agencies; an improvement of our offer as a result of expert feedback; and of course an invitation to present at the Atlanta conference. In the wake of our success at the competition, we were also able to close a seven-digit seed funding round with leading venture capital funds to take the next steps in this exciting journey.
Where do you see your business going in the next couple of years?
The insights industry provides information that drives strategic decision-making worth trillions of dollars around the world, not only in the consumer goods segment but also in finance, media, government, consulting and countless other areas. We believe that, as the foundation for generating these insights, “sampling” is probably the world’s most powerful industry that no one knows. At the same time, sampling today is very inefficient and technology can help to make it faster, more reliable and global. In particular, we see three, interconnected trends that will fundamentally transform the way insights are generated and used: the rapid increase in smartphone usage around the world; the availability of massive processing power to enable fully automated real-time analytics; and new possibilities to digitally interact with information and to turn data into strategic insights. We’re seeking to push these trends on all fronts and aim to become a leading source for market and opinion data around the world.
What has taken you by surprise?
One of the greatest challenges in building and growing a technology and data company is to attract exceptional talent to the team. What has taken us by surprise is how winning the IIeX competition has led to a boost in applications to join our team – we’ve recently hired a highly experienced product manager from Google and a data scientist from Criteo, a leading ad-tech and retargeting company. Winning the IIeX has greatly helped us attracting talent to Dalia. We’re currently looking to add more people in business development, engineering and product. If anyone who’s reading this wants to join us, please send us a note.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since winning the competition?
The competition has given us great exposure to leading thinkers and decision-makers in the industry. As a startup you’re always very product and technology-focused – which is good since it allows you to think outside the box and disrupt the way things are done. At the same time, it is very important to innovate with clients and not without them. Getting a better understanding of what clients expect from our technology was perhaps the most important learning from the IIeX experience.
What advice would you give a company getting started in the insights industry?
The insights industry is a very peculiar beast – tremendously exciting but equally difficult to navigate and understand. As a tech company, we have a very data-driven and analytical mindset. One thing we underestimated was how important trust and personal relations are in this industry. In retrospect, this makes perfect sense: we generate information to support strategic decisions with potentially huge implications on the lives and work of many people. Clients want to understand the technology but they also want to get to know the people behind it. Trust is the most important currency in this industry so our advice to startups is to take this very seriously and start earning it as early as anyhow possible.