Magnetude recently met with Doug Levin, CEO of Quant5, a SaaS startup dedicated to improving the revenue and cost performance of customer-facing operations through an entirely new breed of Consumer Analytics. Find out their story through our latest startup spotlight interview.
Where did the idea for Quant5 originate?
The Quant5 business and technology concept was based, in part, on my business experience managing companies that were under-utilizing valuable data. Data should inform and enhance decision-making for business people who need it at their fingertips. It should also lead to valid and useful recommendations, optimizations and visualizations, and finally, be based on potentially a mix of both legacy and social data.
I also came to the conclusion that many medium and large sized companies, in particular, and marketing departments specifically, had their data lodged within ‘Fort Knox’ situations. I also knew that the Cloud could provide a hosted suite of analytic modules that transforms Fort Knox data affordably into actionable insights.
I know you’ve founded several other startups. Has your experience with Quant5 been similar or different than others?
It’s been more similar than different. I could easily delve into my war stories, but I think it’s more important to know that today’s startups face a very challenging business environment with competition from China, South America and Europe. Identifying a problem in the marketplace and then designing an accessible solution through technology is my favorite phase of a venture, and also the most critical. This phase is critical so that the business is competitively differentiated.
Equally critical is customer adoption. We’re currently in this phase where we are closely engaging with a range of customers on their use of our first generation technology. We are determining “Product Fit” relative to the overall technology plan.
Who is Quant5’s target audience and what’s the value you provide to them?
Quant5 delivers easy to use, quick to implement, and very affordable predictable marketing solutions for medium and large sized businesses. In large companies, we primarily work with the folks in the marketing department. In mid-sized companies, we work with marketing departments as well as other departments that share the responsibility of analyzing customer, sales and other data.
How do you view your competitive landscape?
I think of our competition in three different ways: The first, which I call ‘noise’, is our primary form of competition. There are companies that offer so-called “Big Data” solutions, and along the way, many of them add analytics capabilities and go on to position themselves as a big data analytics solution provider. Oftentimes these companies are providing merely reporting and/or metrics, which isn’t true analytics, and definitely doesn’t qualify as predictive analytics. The second category of competition is legacy vendors, which includes legacy database providers who are trying to compete in the Hadoop world. These are typically large-scale analytic companies that exclusively offer analytics or other related solutions. The final set of competitors is cloud-based analytic providers, who generally either do not have the depth of analytics, the partner ecosystem, or access to the other solutions that we offer.
Where have you had the greatest success with your marketing efforts to date?
Our social media strategy has been very effective in delivering the Quant5 message set out to our target audience. We generate really good sales leads from Twitter, our blog, video content, other forms of social media, as well as the email campaigns that we run. This diverse and integrated marketing approach is very content centric and mirrors the way decision makers operate in business today: They use videos to understand a problem or available solutions; they read blogs and twitter feeds for relevant news and insight; and they’ll download eBooks and other content to get a deeper dive.
In some cases, the social activity will revert a reader back to email. In a recent example of ours, a prospect that had been radio silent for six months received an email promoting a blog post that drove them back to our site, which resulted in them requesting an updated demo and eventually, signing up as a new client. For this reason, it’s important to have an integrated content creation and marketing approach that doesn’t place all the bets on one particular marketing vehicle.
Have you faced any difficult business decisions? What did you find helpful in making the decision?
The honest answer is every day there is something momentous that happens. I’d like to think we’ve made Mount Everest-like business decisions, but in fact that’s not the case. Everything we’ve done has been iterative and part of our business and technology plan.
This is my seventh startup. Having been to the rodeo before means that there certainly as been some interesting choices along the way, but I wouldn’t consider any of them new. The truth of the matter is that it’s been a really steady journey, and a lot of fun. The best part of it is working with really smart people such as our customers, vendors, and within our team. Working with smart people is simply a pleasure.
Having founded a number of successful ventures, what advice can you share with other founders?
First and foremost, it’s important to do research to determine whether you have a viable concept. Second, founders have to understand that the barriers to competition have dropped, and as a result, it is really important to develop your own intellectual property. Differentiation is absolutely critical, and that has to come from baking innovation into the mentality of your business. Understanding your customers’ needs and requirements in the present and future is vital, as customers are the most valuable form of market research out there. While market research firms and analysts are helpful, you have to be able to sit down with a customer and understand their future requirements. Not only do your customers end up happier, but you’re also continually and effectively adjusting to changing market conditions.