New York-based Tony Cheevers traces his family back to Co Waterford. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and is Customer Success Officer with Researchscape International: https://iibn.com/UniverseOfMembers/TonyCheevers
Here, he shares with us his thoughts on founding the business.
1. What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start in business?
Looking at the market research industry in 2010, I saw a small group of large companies controlling the space. Prospective clients provided feedback that the process of getting data from these sources was very slow, very expensive and lacking any transparency.
2. What makes your business unique?
I would say three main things make us unique are,
a) We do the work ourselves, in house. Many firms in the market research (MRX) space sub-contract all of their work, mostly to offshore firms with very low overhead.
b) We have invested more than $750,000 in automation. This investment allows us to hit competitive price points while also delivering results faster.
c) We’re transparent in our pricing. Our site includes an online store where prospective clients can shop for the service that meets their requirements
3. What moment can you cite as a game-changer or turning point for your company?
One of our clients pointed out that we’re not in the business of generating survey data. We’re in the business of informing and populating stories. That perspective made a significant shift in thinking about our work from the story readers perspective.
4. What is your greatest business achievement to date?
I point to the fact that we work well with a broad range of clients from solopreneurs start-ups to the Fortune 10. Our clients have received news coverage in hundreds of media outlets in dozens of languages.
5. What was your back-to-the-wall moment and how did you overcome it? Can be a past experience that led to your current position.
6. Has Covid impacted your business and if so how?
On a personal level, Covid has been very difficult. Our business has outperformed expectations though due in part to our Crisis Communications practice. Businesses and organizations have been striving to understand how to communicate effectively and empathetically during the pandemic as well as responding to societal issues like climate change and Black Lives Matter.
7. What was the best advice you received when starting out?
My partner reminds me regularly ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’. Having run several marathons as a high school athlete, that analogy works well for me.
8. What was the worst advice you received when starting out?
One of the large MRX firms suggested that we could partner with them by doubling our pricing and kicking back 30% to them for referrals. That approach would have put our work out of budget reach for many start-ups and small businesses, undercutting one of our founding principles to make research available to a broader audience.
9. What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to someone just starting their own business?
One of the key things that I hear from investors is start-ups come looking for funding, yet they don’t have any data to present in support of their business idea. I always advise people to do the research whether it’s their own money or an investor’s.
10. Where do you see your business in the next 5 – 10 years?
I see the SaaS component of our business as one of the key paths to the future.