Padmanabhan Ramaswamy, founder of InsightzClub tells us about consumer insights and data-driven marketing.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Padmanabhan Ramaswamy: Thanks a lot for asking. All of my family and friends have been doing well, though it’s been challenging times mentally and physically for a lot of people.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded InsightzClub.
Padmanabhan Ramaswamy: I started my career by working for one of the largest market research agencies Nielsen (2005-2008). After that, I undertook a master’s at the London School of Economics (LSE) focussed on econometric. It was coincidental that analytics has just started becoming buzzy then in 2009.
I then worked for a global media agency – IPG Mediabrands and then for a global analytics consulting firm – Pointlogic (which was acquired by Nielsen). I also worked at Rocket Internet/Lazada group setting up the data science and analytics group across SEA and then for a more early-stage e-commerce venture (backed by founders of Hong Leong Group).
Subsequently, I decided to build a startup in the consumer insights space with my cofounder Mritunjay. The main drawing factor was that this was a legacy industry and nothing much had changed significantly in this industry at least not dramatically. The main idea was to disrupt the industry and put technology at the heart of it to change how insights and data are used to make marketing decisions.
How does InsightzClub innovate?
Padmanabhan Ramaswamy: Innovation has always been the heart of our company both in terms of vision, culture, product, and our team. Sometimes it has not been easy to drive this innovation to acceptance at a customer level because this has always been an industry that has not seen too many paradigms shifts. However, this challenge has made us push even harder to continuously innovate. As an example, one of our excellent R&D innovations has been the introduction of passive technology on our app. Passive technology essentially means we can track user data based on actual behavior rather than traditional methods like surveys. One of our quests as a company is to move to an age of survey-less or behavioral-based data.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Padmanabhan Ramaswamy: Like most businesses, the covid-19 did hit our business. We did however see overall topline growth last year. Of course, it was much lower than we projected due to the pandemic. We were affected in sectors where we have direct exposure like airlines and hospitality. One of the good parts of our business is we are fairly sector agnostic- our customers are spread across FMCG, banking, telco, media, and hospitality. The pandemic did accelerate the adoption of some of the new digital insights methods and approaches that InsightzClub offers. Of course, as you know since the world was in a general state of confusion last year, there were also indecisions on marketing budgets, spending which did also have some impact. But generally, I believe that in such situations it is all the more important for marketers to follow risk mitigation through data-driven decisions.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Padmanabhan Ramaswamy: No. Luckily we did some cost rationalization like cutting unnecessary expenditures and we were able to retain all our talents. I think one of the lessons especially for new-age startups is to continue to focus on optimizing the operating expenditures and extending their runway.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Padmanabhan Ramaswamy: We have always been following a process of having a continuous formal and informal feedback loop with our customers. This help always held in good stead; a key indicator of this being our high customer retention rate and high satisfaction scores.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Padmanabhan Ramaswamy: No. We focussed on keeping things simple driving sales, increasing cross-selling, keeping the opex down.
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