Category Archives: Business

The bar set too low

A key challenge for a disruptive product is to set the new bar (or standards). The more path-breaking the product, the higher the bar. With every iteration of the product, you raise the bar. The ideal approach to market a disruptive product is to get a few early adopters. The trend-setters, the people who have it in them to embrace innovation. These will be the people who will challenge you. They will imagine things and share ideas. They will see the potential and push you to raise the bar even higher. They will be your mavens. They will help you tell the world that the bar can be set higher.

The bigger challenge is convince the laggards that the current bars are set too low. These are the skeptics, the people who resist. For a disruptive product to get mass adoption, you need these people.

MavenMagnet is leading the charge to disrupt market research. The social media monitoring tools set the bar for what can be done using information on digital platforms way too low. These tools, or dashboards as they are commonly called, are not even scratching the surface as far as the potential of this massive pool of data is concerned. MavenMagnet technology and technique garner insights that are projectable to map to market performance. Over the years, we have been blessed by the early adopters. Every product we develop, ranging from competitive analysis to ethnography to customer journey, we work with early adopters who help us make these product better. We iterate, we develop new features, new products and keep raising the bar.

Our most important challenge is not to create path-breaking products. We know how to do that. We have an active pipeline to keep doing that. Our key challenge to is demystify the belief that social media monitoring tools are doing what can be done using digital data.

Status quo

Status quo – the existing state of affairs, current customs and practices. In any industry, status quo is something that is widely accepted and used as standards. A disruptive product is something that challenges the status quo. An early adopter embraces the disruption. The product that perseveres through the resistance of status quo reaches mass adoption and sets new status quo.

One of the industries that has status quo set for decades is market research, we commonly refer to as traditional market research. Focus groups of tens are used for qualitative insights. Surveys of few hundred provide quantified projections.

There are quite a few issues with traditional market research. Let’s talk about the top ones. It is plagued with respondent bias. The answers are driven by the questions you ask. There is no discovery based on what consumers want. Research fatigue limits the sample sizes. Time involved in developing the questionnaire, recruiting respondents, collecting data and compiling results is way too long when the average life of products in most industries is down to months. The biggest issue that’s a key hurdle in garnering strong insights is the disconnect between qualitative insights and its natural quantification (again you can get forced quantification using the Q&A process).

What are we doing about it? We are challenging this out-dated status quo.

MavenMagnet is transforming market research. We are taking the entire concept of Q&A out of the research equation. This eliminates respondent bias and let brands hear the real voice of the consumers. The insights are completely discovery based driven by consumer perception. Our sample size is in tens of thousands, so we provide natural projection of these insights. We deliver qualitative insights on quantitative scale in one to four weeks making it actionable for brands to update their positioning, understand their consumers, and optimize their campaigns.

The irrationality

We live in an irrational world. Everything from the stock market and consumer buying habits to people’s beliefs and their voting choice is irrational. As a marketer you have to navigate through this irrationality and fit your product in the mix. In other words, you have to accept the irrationality and make sense of it. And that’s where we come in picture.

At an individual level its complete chaos. Even looking at a few dozen maintains the chaos. The chaos normalizes when you take tens of thousands of consumers and their hundreds of thousands of conversations. What emerges out of this exercise is something really beautiful. You get strong patterns that define your consumers, what matters to them and influences them to make decisions in their lives.

The basic idea is to understand your consumers. Develop products that they want. Speak to them in the language they speak. That’s how you will decode the irrationality and become a part of their world.

Expectations from Indian Union Budget 2016

MavenMagnet conducted a study in partnership with The Economic Times published on February 27, 2016. Here’s the link to the study.


A lot of time in air

I recently spent a lot of time in an airplane coast to coast. While typically it is a great way for me to catch-up on my sleep, this trip happened to be a day time thing and I was not very sleepy. So while counting hours to land and thinking of better ways to convince prospective clients to use MavenMagnet services, I realized how being in this box makes doing research outside the box (read use MavenMagnet) such a no-brainer.

Before I talk about the parallels, let’s set the landscape. Day trip flying for 4 hours, no entertainment set in the plane and no wi-fi. So what did this lead to? About 150 people in the plane with nothing to do but either sleep or read or talk. So while having a light conversation with a good looking girl sitting next to me, I was listening to people sitting around me. People were talking about everything from who will be the next president to what they will do if Donald Trump become the President to when will Apple have a new product that is not just a newer version of iPhone or iPad to why season one of House of Cards was so much better than season two.

This was nothing but a minuscule of what conversations on the Internet are and what MavenMagnet scrapes to do market research. No one was asking anyone to talk about a specific thing. The conversation on next president was triggered by a Time magazine cover. The Trump comment was courtesy of the last night Republican primary debate and polls following that. The Apple conversation was triggered by Apple stocks falling down. House of Cards came up as one of many TV shows as a reaction to Golden Globe nominees list.

The Internet is this times millions. People talking among themselves. People talking with people they probably don’t know but have common interests. The kind of insights you can get out of scraping human conversation in an unbiased and unobtrusive way has no parallel out there. What we have developed at MavenMagnet is a set of tools and techniques to parse, dissect and understand these conversations, products in these conversations and people having these conversations. Market research cannot get better than this!

An ET Magazine-MavenMagnet study delves into how startup CEOs, the rockstars of today, stack up against their traditional counterparts in India


Here’s a link to the story:

Make it interesting while solving a problem

Most successful products address a problem. Sometime to the problem they are addressing is apparent, other times they are subtle, and a few times it’s not clearly realized by the consumers till they see the solution. The solution is more compelling when the innovation and the presentation makes it interesting.

First one that comes to mind is TED (the “original” one. The way this brand is diluted is the subject for some other post). People like good presentations and talks but the length of these talks is the biggest cause of displeasure for the audience. TED came up with a interesting solution. Power-packed talks ranging from 5 minutes to 20 minutes with all you need to know.

There is no problem that can be solved with something interesting. Good solutions can make seemingly uninteresting things interesting. Whether it’s hauling a cab (Uber) or renting your spare room (Air BNB) or lengthy surveys and boring focus group with conversation-based research (MavenMagnet), the idea is to identify the problem and come up with a solution that hits the nail on the head.

MavenMagnet Real-time Event Analyzer analyzes Modi’s independent day address

Article as published in The Economic Times.


Platform and Standards: Part 2

Standards is another great way to create a foundation for something that is sustainable and dependable. In simple words, standards is something that can provide a universal way to understand, measure or use something. Standards have been around for ever. Currency is a standard for doing monetary transactions, kilogram is a standard for measuring weight and meter is a standard for measuring distance. In technology industry, standards are basically Key Performance Indicators or KPI. The popular ones are Google page rank to measure the popularity of a website or Nielsen TV rating to measure the success of a TV show (or MavenMagnet Magnet Score to measure the impact of the elements of your campaign).

The most fundamental element of standards is trust. The way you are measuring something should be fair for mass adoption. Just like it takes a while to build trust, it takes a while for a measurement to become a standard. Another key property of standards is that it should be easy to understand, test and use. The way you calculate the KPI can be as sophisticated as you want, but it should be transparent enough to test and easy enough to report.

Like platforms, standards depend on adoption. The success and failure of standards is dependent on how widely it is adopted. For good or for bad, displacing a well established standard is as hard as anything can be creating yet another competitive advantage for the business and a great barrier to entry in the market.

Platform and Standards: Part 1

In the space of technology driven business, it is really challenging to have a sustainable impact. The barrier to entry for a new competition to come up and take your place is as low as ever before. The cost of creating a new product for a bunch of smart engineers is peanuts thanks to the advent of cloud computing and open source resources. In such an environment, I think there are two good ways you can develop a business that is sustainable — develop a platform or create standards.

Platform in very simple terms is an infrastructure that forms the foundation. It’s a foundation of operations. It’s a base that provides enough opportunity to develop applications on top of it. The more common platforms we use every day are Windows, iOS, Android, Facebook, etc. Others being cloud computing platforms like Amazon AWS, gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, and web browsers like Firefox.

It is really hard for a standalone platform to survive. The success of the platform like any other product depends on how many consumers adopt it. Consumers adopt a platform if there are applications for them to use on the platform. The more the applications for diverse community, higher is the adoption.

There is somewhat of a chicken and egg problem here — independent developers creating applications for a platform and consumers adopting the  platform. To circumvent this, the platform developer should create the initial applications for mass consumer market. Be it Office for Windows or Safari for iOS.

Platforms have a unique ability to generate a network effect. More applications on it and more consumers adopting it provides a platform great competitive advantage and creates strong barrier to entry.