What they do: Whale Path is a crowdsourced business research platform where thousands of analysts compete on-demand to provide market insights for business decisions. Users enter their research requirments, set a research budget, and wait as analysts compete to provide exceptional data for your request.Why it's a big deal: Wale Path disrupts a business research market that's worth over $24B. The crowdsourced research marketplace offers enterprise customers quality answers to their questions, and offers a new venue for it's 15,000+ analysts to earn extra income. Wale Path is growing 110% month-to-month and raised $1.2M in their seed round, and for good reason. This company is going to completely change the landscape of business research.
Business executives in the US spend over $24 billion on market research or competitive analysis that is not customized, takes too long and is ridiculously expensive.
Whale Path has created an on-demand research platform where corporate executives can order business research from a group of qualified and vetted postgraduate students. Our technology enables us to deliver business research 100% customized to clients’ needs, 3 times faster and half the price.
We maintain high quality and streamline the research process by assigning one research request to multiple business PhD and Master’s students. Each research task is distributed via our automated filtering and matching algorithm based on students’ qualifications and majors.
How do you think about market size?
Over $24Bn in US is spent on business research by 3.8M corporate executives in 2012, growing 1.7% over 2011.
Bottom up (demand):
3.8M corporate executives / year @ $3K per report
Total addressable market in the US is $11.4Bn.
Bottom up (supply):
Pool of 3M researchers, $12K - $13K per researcher of value
Total addressable market of $36B
What problem are you solving?
Business research is costly, takes too much time and not customized.
Directors and managers often don't have the data they need to make the best decisions. Without that data they waste time and resources making suboptimal decisions that could have been avoided. The best research from Gartner and Forrester is usually only available to top corporate executives. Those reports are also not customized, meaning clients often don't get the data they need, or aren't getting the most up to date numbers. Our network of experts quickly build customized research reports based on exactly what our clients are looking for at half the price compare to traditional vendors.
Who are your customers and what do they want?
Our customers are primarily Director/Partner level executives in Business Development, Product Management, Innovation and Strategy functions, from Computer Software and Information Technology sectors. They need to do market and trend analysis in order to explore a new sector for expansion, or make more informed decisions about product. They want data supported answers to highly specific questions so they need a custom solution, they want it fast, and they often don't have budget for Gartner of Forrester. They don't want to hire and manage a freelance researcher that also comes with quality risk. They want to go to a trusted brand that can simply deliver the answers they are looking for. By building a platform to manage this we are also building an internal research database that will reduce the amount of work researchers need to do over time and increase our margins.
What do you understand about your industry that competitors don't get?
Crowdsourcing is fundamentally changing how efficient industries can be from Taxis, to quality assurance testing. The fact that we crowdsource our research from independent experts means that Gartner and Forrester simply cannot compete with our cost structure. Business executives use research data to make specific decisions that they need to do in a timely manner which industry reports that can be general or months old don't provide. By tapping Masters and PHD experts for research that they already specialize in, we give them an easy way to build credibility and make money by delivering fast, high quality reports in subjects they know well, and we don't have to carry the cost of full time employees that may not be experts in the exact subject that clients are looking for. The fact that we maintain a database of this research means that we will become even more efficient over time as clients ask redundant questions.
What software have you built to streamline the research process?
Our proprietary technology manages researchers (just like how Uber manages their drivers) and allows us to scale by reusing the same data points and sources of information in multiple reports.
Our researchers are tagged with specific areas of expertise, time availability and geographical proximity, so we are able to match clients' requests with researchers' qualifications algorithmically. We assign 3-5 researchers on an project so they can execute in parallel and increase quality and efficiency. We've also learned that while the way data is presented is important to clients, our researchers aren't necessarily experts at design so we have a standard templating process for them to enter their findings that spits out a standard high quality report that our clients like.
How do you make money?
Price: staring $3K and fluctuates based on the amount of data points need to be researched
Price: staring $20K for a set up data points available for the subscriber with in a year.
What keeps you up at night?
Making sure we can deliver high quality results to our customers super fast
How many researchers to you have right now and how will you scale acquisition?
Right now we have over 200 Masters and PHD researchers with MBA and Business & Finance majors that work with us on a monthly basis. We also have a pool of 3 million post graduates that we can access through our partnerships with top university career centers and LinkedIn. Researcher supply has not been an issue for us and we are confident that we will continue to scale acquisition as we grow.
How does your customer acquisition and retention look?
We leverage LinkedIn Sponsored Update and InMail to reach out to target customers, which is proven to be efficient.
Sponsored Update response rate is 14.2% and the conversion rate is 7.4%, which leads to a CPA of $425. InMail acceptance rate is 12.5% and the conversion rate is 8%, which leads to a CPA of $250.
We also go to event and conferences, they give us 2 - 3 customers per event which leads to $7,000 of revenue on average.
We have 42 paying customers and in only 4 months, 35% of our customers have come back to purchase again. We've also been able to achieve a 77 Net Promoter Score.
Who are your early customers?
We work with Panasonic, Oracle, Siemens, Disney ABC, Credit Suisse, Telefonica and others.
We also have Samsung, Razorfish, Dolby, TOTVS, QuinStreet and Morgan Stanley as part of our sales pipeline who we have sent sales proposals for annual subscription.
Where did the idea come from?
(Artem) When I was working as a research analyst I spent tons of time researching market trends and doing competitive analysis. I had access to Gartner and Forrester but they were extremely expensive, and the generic reports were not always up to date which meant that in fast moving industries they missed important data that I needed. In my previous startups I was always scared that I didnt have access to the exact data I needed to make the best decisions. Often that meant finding research I couldn't locate on my own, but there was no service that could do that for me at a reasonable price. I founded WhalePath with Colin to create the product I was looking for.
Why are you the team to do this?
We are building Whale Path to solve a problem we've had ourselves. We've built 4 startups between us and have a highly technical team that makes us the perfect team to build software that makes the business research industry more efficient.
What will you use the money from this round for?
Since we have found the right product and customer we are using the money from this next round scale revenue by hiring a few sales reps, increasing our marketing spend and bringing on an additional engineer.
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