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Hub connections help The Insights People thrive and expand during lockdown

Market intelligence business The Insights People launched in 2017. With ongoing support from the Hub, which has helped the creation of more than 20 jobs, the company has been on an incredible journey of growth and international expansion. 

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The Insights People is a global leader in kids, parents and family market intelligence and currently surveys more than 5,000 children every week, across five continents and 13 countries.

The Manchester-based company which now employs 45 people has gained a reputation as the most comprehensive and dynamic market intelligence specialist in kids, tweens and teens and their market intelligence is used by companies such as Amazon, Crayola, F1, LEGO, Ofcom, Pokemon, SEGA, Turner and Warner Bros.

CEO and Founder Nick Richardson (pictured below) talks to the Hub about their experience of responding to COVID-19 and the journey he’s been on so far:

We’re fortunate to be doing something that is helping other businesses through this complex time.   

We survey parents and kids on an ongoing basis, so we see the ups, downs and early indications of trends in data every single week. As the world tries to find a new sense of normality following COVID-19, the first thing that brands, agencies and businesses need to do is to understand exactly what’s going on. What are their audiences thinking, feeling and doing? Research, data and insights are becoming an even more critical tool to help navigate that and are often the difference between the success and failure.

We’ve hired 20 people since the start of lockdown

Like many businesses, we had to react quickly to Covid-19. After two large international contracts were paused, we assessed the risk and responded in a proactive and decisive manner. This approach has enabled us to not only protect our team and business but to significantly expand during these unprecedented times.  

That’s not to say our income didn’t take a hit but the way that our amazing team performed through lockdown meant that we were able to continue our growth trajectory. And continuing business as usual, whilst hiring, on-boarding and inducting 13 people, expanding into Australia, Canada, Russia and China and developing a number of new tech innovations has been quite a juggling act, but one we have managed.

We were looking to raise investment this year to further assist our international growth and tech innovations. By navigating these unprecedented times so proactively and decisively, we were delighted to see our pre-covid valuation remain, which led to us accepting £500k of investment from DSW Angels.

The Hub is an accelerant – we have got there quicker by working with them on every step of our journey. 

I found out about the Hub from an advert on a wall at Innospace. I then met with Paul Halliday, one of the Hub’s innovation specialists and since then, Paul and his team at GC Business Growth Hub have been by our side on every part of the journey.

They’ve helped us to try and raise money through investors; provided advice on training; made introductions to the Department for International Trade and simply signposted opportunities for us. There’s a lot of support available but making sense of it isn’t easy, but the Hub makes it much more straightforward. 

Venturefest was a key milestone in our business’s history

Paul suggested we entered Venturefest North West and even though we’d only been established a few months we managed to get through to the final the Innovation Showcase Competition.

But it was the semi-final of which was a defining moment. We were asked to present to a panel, which included angels, investors, and tech experts. I wasn’t really looking for investment at that stage but the feedback from one of the panel - Adam Kara - stood out. He liked our business and could see the opportunity, so we met the next day and very quickly agreed a deal with him. 

Strong links with exceptional young talent through Manchester’s universities are a key ingredient to our success.  

The Hub’s various programmes have provided a great source of support for helping The Insights People forge stronger links with the universities across Greater Manchester. Our first employee was a graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University who started as Research Executive and is now our Chief Product Officer. I’m proud that more than 25% of our team are graduates from Greater Manchester’s universities.

Universities are quite complex in nature and with the greatest possible respect, dealing with them can sometimes feel like trying to push a piano up the stairs. The Hub accelerated some of the processes we have in place for working with universities and provided multiple touch points.

We established a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with MMU to find innovative ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) could be used in the market research products we develop. We’ve just hired someone to develop this further; an important growth tool that we simply wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for the Hub.

Think big, become global.

Strong international links have been key to our success and the Hub has helped us to make links into DIT (Department for International Trade) and to secure a grant which led to us attending the Kidscreen Summit in Miami, opening up doors to North America and beyond.

Since then we’ve done great work internationally and now have a presence in 12 countries across the world, with plans to launch in at least another two countries by the end of 2020.

The Hub’s only agenda is to help businesses to succeed and grow. That can only be a good thing, right? 

The Hub is government and local authority funded which means that time, money, and commerciality isn’t an agenda in the same way it is for other consultants and service providers. The only thing they are trying to do is help you make the right decisions for your business. It’s a vital point of differentiation that the Hub has and is key to why they are a critical part of Manchester’s business eco-system.

 


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