It’s no secret I am a big fan of startups. In fact, much of the work we do at GreenBook Blog, the IIeX event series, and our sister company Gen2 Advisors is around supporting the startup community, and that has been the case for many years. But this year, it seems as if the number of early-stage companies focused on the insights space has exploded.
Perhaps the best indication of this growth is in the number of companies that will be in startup focused sessions at next month’s IIeX North America, a record-setting 44 companies! Never before have so many early-stage companies entered the market in such a short period of time, and although IIeX is known for being the home of innovative new players in the industry even for us this an astounding turn out.
|Big Chalk Analytics||GeoSwap||Nanoscent||Savio|
|Business Science Associates||GroupSolver||OKRA Technologies||Speakeasy AI|
|Conjoint.ly||Karna AI||Pay Your Selfie||Streetbees|
|Cubeyou||The Opinion Economy||Poltio||Thematically|
|Data Does Good||Limbik||PREDIQT||Touchpoint Group|
|Datawallet||Lymbyc Solutions||Prospection Sciences||Trangressivex|
|Delvv.io||Mad Factory||RDM Initiative||Zetmic|
These companies run the gamut of offerings, but in general they can be categorized into a few buckets: automation/AI, blockchain, unstructured data analytics, SoLoMo, and nonconscious measurement (and sometimes hybrids of several of these at once!). Of course some are focused on specific business issues such as media measurement, point of experience, sample, etc.. and the possible use cases are far more extensive but if we just focus on the core plays represented it is a good proxy for where the industry is headed.
I’ve been doing a fair amount of Board briefings lately for established suppliers and a staple of my recommendations to them has become “disrupt yourself before someone else disrupts you.” The companies listed here are what I am referring to: these are the current generation of disruptors. In my nearly 20 years in the industry I have seen seven paradigm shifts take place:
- The shift from phone to online sampling (Research Now, Toluna, etc…)
- The advent of DIY platforms (Surveymonkey, Qualtrics, etc…)
- The emergence of communities (Vision Critical, C Space, etc..)
- The development of SoLoMo (Medallia, Google Surveys, Crimson Hexagon)
- The scaling of Nonconscious Measurement (Affectiva, OdinText, Beyond Verbal, etc…)
- Big Data & Analytics (Palantir, Decooda, IBM Watson)
- AI & Automation (Zappistore, Lucid, AYTM)
The speed of these disruptions has been getting faster and faster, with each fueling the other and in their wakes traditional providers that failed to adapt have suffered, sometimes extensively. Today we see many of the Big 5 suppliers working hard to divest themselves of traditional research business units and re-position themselves as a hybrid of a consulting/technology/data provider; time will tell how successful they will be. In the meantime, the capital structure is changing with Private Equity making many plays consolidating or scaling suppliers, venture capital investing in start-ups, a few IPO’s in the works for tech suppliers, and with the advent of blockchain, the looming (and lucrative) ICO funding mechanism about to make an impact. By the way, it is my personal opinion that blockchain will be the next great paradigm shift that will not only disrupt the sample sector, but the industry as a whole and marketing even more so. But more on that in another blog at another time!
So, why so many start-ups and why should you care? For the first question, because technology continues to create opportunities for disruption of existing business models, especially those that involve data, and since data is the “new oil” of the world many entrepreneurs and investors want a piece of the action. Hence a vibrant and growing ecosystem that is focused on the world of insights generation. As to the second, history is filled with examples of companies that failed to innovate and didn’t pay attention to the signs of disruption, and in most cases those companies don’t exist at all today or if they do, are much smaller than they were at their heights. Add to that a booming capital market and realignment of the industry from a capital perspective and you have a perfect environment for disruption, the siren call of start-ups and investors.
As I mentioned, the companies I have listed here (and likely more by the time of the event) will all be at IIeX North America June 11-13. Some will be interspersed throughout the agenda, but many will be in the Insight Innovation Competition and even more in our Startup Track, and all will also be in a special “Meet the Startups” 2-hour open networking event on Tuesday, June 12th. If you want to get a handle on where the future of the insights industry is going, there is no better opportunity than to come and meet these folks there. Your future may very literally depend on it.