We previously announced the milestone of our Insight Innovation Exchange (IIEX) conference series’ 10th anniversary, celebrating a decade of identifying the innovations that have transformed the insights industry. This simple idea of gathering the best and the brightest in the insights industry to reveal, showcase, debate, challenge and champion new technologies and approaches has been a game-changer. And, we have the tangible evidence to prove it.
Before launching IIEX, we had been experimenting with the idea of surfacing the most innovative MRX startups so that brand-side insights teams and full-service agencies could have a channel in which to explore the next ‘new thing’.
After some experiments online, we formally launched the Insights Innovation Competition at the first IIEX event in 2013. More welcoming than a “shark tank”, we gave early-stage innovators a literal stage to present to a live audience of potential early adopters and, to make it interesting, compete for some modest prize money.
“This simple idea of gathering the best and the brightest in the insights industry to reveal, showcase, debate, challenge and champion new technologies and approaches has been a game-changer.”
The rules were simple: You had to be a bona fide company offering a product, service or tech solution for sale — and you already had to be in market with your product or service, under a certain threshold of external investment and sales volume, so you could legitimately claim start-up status. Upon meeting the criteria, the submissions were winnowed down through a crowdsourced process to a handful of finalists who took the stage live to make their “pitch” before an industry body of judges.
That year, a scrappy start-up called Zappistore entered the competition, presented a radical proposition for applying automation to research at scale, and won!
Their innovation set in motion a new category applying standardization to research platforms. They have since achieved a market leader status that inspires many competitors who are bringing their own value to the market. Fast forward to December of 2022, and Zappi, as they are now called, announced a round of private equity growth funding of $170million!
Clearly, innovation is not over yet for Zappi — and we couldn’t be happier that they have stepped up to sponsor this year’s competition. (More about that in days to come.)
Innovation has made a difference . . . and we can measure it!
We are a bit geeky about data so we decided to have a look at the companies who have participated in the competition in the last 10 years to see how far they’ve come since.
Anecdotally, we could say that these are the companies who introduced innovations that have become preferred methodologies, widely adopted solutions, and best practices. Applying a “follow the money” mindset, it’s interesting to see what the cohort of winners has actually contributed to the industry in terms of valuation.
Over 163 companies have participated in the Insights Innovation Competition, making it to judging rounds and affirming what we had been predicting through the GRIT Report for some time — the industry was shifting from services to tech, or minimally tech-enabled consultancy. The competition participants, in great measure, have been tech innovators who have been driving that transformation.
Truly, you’ve likely seen the majority of these innovators first at IIEX, and likely in the context of this Competition. But, what’s more important, is that the Insight Innovation Competition provided a platform for these companies to grow and actively redefine the industry as a whole.
The Insight Innovation Competition didn’t just expose our industry to these innovators and their ideas — it has actively facilitated quantifiable transformation!
OK, where’s the evidence, you say.
Four of the winners have been acquired, and to the degree of which we can verify, have generated an estimated $80 million in shareholder value.
Together, fourteen of the winners have raised over $860 million in capital and created an estimated $3.3 billion in enterprise value. Additionally, the past winners employ over 1500 people and contribute $445 million in global turnover to the industry.
Alongside Zappi, winners who have redefined how and what research can accomplish include:
- Remesh created scalable “macro-qual” via AI, an early precursor to many tools today leveraging AI and machine learning.
- Veylinx applied principles of betting markets as a solution for pricing research.
- RIWI introduced a proprietary methodology for global random microsurveys.
- Decooda, Heartbeat.AI, Glimpzit, Pixoneye, and Phebi furthered analysis of unstructured data (text, voice and image/video), paving the way for current advances in those technologies.
- Mindprober and CoolTool (as well as runner ups like Neurons, Forbes, Protobrand, etc..), have all helped drive development and adoption of nonconscious measurement solutions, which have established themselves as vital new tools for insights.
“IIEX is more than a conference series – it is a mindset and a catalyst for thinking transformatively about the future of consumer insights.”
Needless to say, this is quite an illustrious cohort of innovators. And what’s more, there is an impressive array of brands who have adopted their innovative solutions in order to uncover critical insights that inform their business decisions and drive brand growth.
We joke internally that if we were a VC firm and had taken equity in these companies, we would be considered one of the best funds in the world! Oh, well…
Who will be the Innovators of the next 10 years?
This year’s Insight Innovation Competition will open in the coming weeks — finalists will once again take the stage at IIEX North America in Austin, May 24th-25th. You can sign up for our weekly newsletter to get updates.
There are going to be dozens of sessions at our global IIEX events this year that will address everything from the intersection of UX and MRX, the opportunities for research employing AR/VR and immersive experiences in the metaverse, the role of analytical and generative AI in insights, and the expanding role of mobile for engaging voice of the consumer.
At IIEX events we will hear from the newest GreenBook Future List honorees representing the insight function of tomorrow. There will be debate and undoubtedly surprises, none more likely than through the big reveal of who will join the cohort of winners from the last 10 years through the Insight Innovation Competition. IIEX is more than a conference series – it is a mindset and a catalyst for thinking transformatively about the future of consumer insights.
So, as we head into the next decade of the Insight Innovation Competition, who will get the chance to transform the industry next by using IIEX as a launchpad? I can’t wait to find out!