The 'Secret Sauce' entrepreneur series: Admoor

When Market Gravity recruit new team members, we look for an entrepreneurial spirit. The ability to inject entrepreneurialism into projects is at the heart of what we do to help big businesses create new, successful propositions. It’s this ‘secret sauce’ that makes us different to other innovation and proposition design consultancies.

 

Many of team at Market Gravity are entrepreneurs. They’ve started their own businesses outside of Market Gravity – something we advocate and actively look for. Our entrepreneurs know the work it takes to get something off the ground. They are passionate about ideas in the same way our clients are passionate about theirs. And they’re able to draw on their experiences when working together to create new products and services.

And because we love to share, celebrate and support our teams’ entrepreneurial passions, we’ve created a series of blogs about them. This month we chatted to Sonia Byun one of our Consultants in New York about a start-up she helped create and launch – Admoor.

 

Hi Sonia. What did your startup do?

Admoor offers an online tool which small businesses can design and purchase the outdoor ad units.

Times square, New York. Photo sourced from unsplash.com

Where did the idea come from?

I used to work in an advertising agency and saw that media buying for outdoor units is very difficult for small business. The reason is that the process of media buying is not transparent and requires a lot of industry knowledge to execute as a small business. However, people in general remember messages on outdoor ads 20% better than those on online ads. My team thought that we should create a tool that helps small business can utilize outdoor ad units.

 

What did you find most rewarding about the experience?

We got funding! Our team did many pitches in front of a variety of audience. We have pitched the idea during a seed fund event with more than 200 people, and have pitched in front of private investors as well. What is very rewarding is when the audience asks relevant questions, compliments on the idea, and sees the potential of the business. Receiving a fund is great because it shows confidence in our business and the team!

 

What was most challenging?

Most outdoor ad units/real estates are owned by a few media companies such as JC Decaux or CBS channels, and without an established relationship it is very difficult to navigate this oligopoly industry. Many companies also did not want to share their pricing information, as they are all scared of going into the open market. However, without them we cannot deliver the entire value chain experience to our customers.

We pivoted our plan and reached out to small outdoor media owners who focus on digital outdoor billboards. Their feedback was much more positive and they would like to work with us to display their units on our site.

 

Funniest anecdote?

Our team did a pitch of this idea throughout the entire school year at various events, and some of our MBA colleagues/friends became regulars to come to these events to support us. They start to even remember when we do certain animations within the pitch slide. They start to call themselves as “Admoor Groupies.”

How has the experience helped you at Market Gravity?

Everything we did to roll out a prototype of Admoor is relevant to MG. From creating a business plan including GTM, growth strategy, to putting together a team to develop a platform, many of these activities are relevant to what MG offers. This experience definitely helps me see the potential of a project and consider a growth plan for any product/project we roll out.

If you’d like to talk over any ideas that you have for launching a new proposition, or how to overcome innovation challenges you’re facing- get in touch.

Sonia.byun@marketgravity.com

Find Sonia on LinkedIn


NEWS: New Year Business Resolutions: 5 trends that will transform working practices in 2017

New and rapidly developing ways of working are set to transform businesses - both big and small in 2017. As technology continues to disrupt and advance, businesses must react to these challenges with both speed and agility and adopt the latest thinking and working practices, if they are to survive.

Market Gravity's co-founder and CEO, Pete Sayburn, shares his insight into the latest thinking and ways of working that businesses should be looking to deploy in 2017 and how he and the Market Gravity team have successfully been using these techniques to help their clients grow and transform their businesses.

Design sprints

“Sprints as a concept has gained fast traction in both the UK and US since three partners from Google Ventures published, “Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days” earlier this year.

Design sprints enable companies to go from an idea to a launch that’s live in customers’ hands in days and weeks, rather than months. Let's say you have a business challenge that needs to be addressed. From experience you know that it will take weeks- if not months- to mobilise the business into action. But instead of creating a massive programme and stretching out the work, you launch a proposition in days. You make decisions quickly and within ten days, you move from idea to prototype. From a prototype you find rapid ways to go live and experiment. You learn from real customers, with real data. This saves your business time and unnecessary cost. And it gives much needed confidence to invest before you scale.

Market Gravity recently worked with Standard Life on 20 day mission-based design sprints which explored ways to increase the retention of one of Standard Life’s customer segments.

Steven Ingledew from Standard Life said, “We wanted to launch a disruptive solution quickly, but one that would have minimal impact on our core technology systems. By using the sprint method introduced to us and run by the team at Market Gravity, we have found one. A small empowered team, or squad as a sprint team is called was brought together to respond to the challenge we’d set, with a constraint that was time boxed. The result of the experiment was the development of The Financial Butler, a new smart chat interface which were able to get in the hands of a small number of customers, in a real environment with real data before scaling it.”

Mission culture and mindsets

“Alongside the sprint technique, organisations need to pursue a mission in 2017, not simply set a scope. They need to adopt a 'mission culture', which focuses on empowering people to make decisions and organises people around a business challenge, with a constraint that’s time-boxed.

This group of people takes on the ‘mission mindset’. The mission mindset enables expedited decisions, not long committee-led debates. Culture should be at the heart of any company's transformational change. It is people who deliver change, not processes.

Mission culture is already driving change and real innovation within the new breed of challenger brands in the financial services market such as Clydesdale Yorkshire Banking Group with their digital banking platform- B, which launched earlier this year.”

Squads

“Simply forming working teams is old hat. The new approach for choosing an effective group that will be charged with achieving a mission within a certain timeframe is “squad”. They aren’t just a team, they’re a squad whose mission it is to deliver the sprint and build a new proposition, without being distracted by their day-today job roles.

Ideally, the squad will be built from a diverse group of people of differing skillsets, genders and diversity. The more diverse the group are, the more likely they are to bring about positive innovation outcomes for the business.

A squad has a high degree of freedom (agility) with the choices they make within the mission. They can make quick decisions and flex the process as much as they need to in order to achieve it and they aren’t constrained by the normal rules of the business.”

Customer co-development

Customer co-development means involving customers at every stage of the journey when creating new propositions. It’s not enough to just generate one set of customer data at the outset for research and insight purposes. We’ve identified that constant communication and partnership with customers brings better results for businesses in the long run.”

It’s about creating the right culture where consumers are at the heart of propositions. The more exposed your customers are to every aspect of the design stage and prototyping, the more likely the project is to succeed when it goes live.

For example, at Market Gravity we did this successfully with AA recently when we asked a selection of customers to keep diaries on behalf of their cars throughout the year. This enabled them us to help their team design a new service informed by a steady stream of live customer data related to their vehicles.

Sandboxing

“Sandboxing is about creating a safe place where you can innovate and create new ideas for your business - without consequences. It gives you the space and environment to create something and experiment. Creating “a sandbox environment” often means physically removing businesses from their office environment or HQ in order to achieve success.

But why sandbox part of your business? Businesses are not always set up to allow for innovation. Or they have the ideas but lack the mindset, speed, skills and environment required to get them out of the door quickly. In addition, there’s an ongoing business to run which can mean there isn’t always internal resource available to work on these types of ideas. That’s where companies like ours come in – we effectively create start-ups within their companies. Sandbox environments that allow us to play, reinvent and re-imagine projects.

Sandboxes are becoming increasingly important in the financial sector as it is subject to frequent regulatory changes. Sandboxing creates am environment for financial services firms in which to play and develop their proposition using customer data.

 

Read about the 10 benefits of sprints here.

 

If you’d like to understand more about these trends and how you can use them to grow your business, get in touch.

peter.sayburn@marketgravity.com


The Next Big Digital Disruption: Building Empathetic and Integrated Insurance

Since settling into agrarian societies and specializing our labor activities, humans have recognized the need to mitigate risk through diversification. Risk protection, the roots of modern insurance, is evident as early as 2250 BC in the Babylonian maritime business, with merchants paying lenders a premium to guarantee to cancel a loan in the event of a lost (or stolen) shipment.[i]

The modern era of insurance evolved as those exposed to common risks formed into groups to aggregate, price, and eventually sell the risk to investors. The internet first brought new ways to search and research insurance policies, and now the digital era is utterly transforming how consumers are able to manage and pool risk, as well as their expectations of processes and the overall experience.

From the global ecosystem of insurtech startups, we have identified five major themes that are at the leading edge of industry transformation:

1: THINK CUSTOMER, NOT PRODUCT

Digital functionality has proven to be a major catalyst for total customer-centricity across all industries. A corporate’s digital face is now the essence of customer relationships, and excellent experiences are required for customer retention. This means that understanding customers and their needs is a necessary capability for all businesses.

Customers increasingly want comprehensive coverage, not ad hoc product selection. Pushing products onto customers doesn’t work anymore. Designing products and services around customers is the way to win. A great example of this is Policy Genius –  rethinking insurance and insurance shopping from the consumer perspective. Their free, online Insurance Checkup Tool will identify gaps in coverage and present product options as well as a ‘to do’ list to address these gaps.

2:  GET SMART WITH DATA

Analytics are critical to digital success. The growth of internet connected devices and sensors is projected to reach 50 billion by 2020[ii]. This will have a significant impact on the availability of real-time information – a trend often referred to as ‘big data’. Insurers who can exploit this information for better pricing, underwriting and loss control will have a distinct competitive advantage over their peers.

More data means improved risk modeling and more accurately priced policies. Driveway.ai demonstrates this well, using a smartphone’s accelerometer to collect telematics data, rate driving skills, and then sell this information to insurance companies.

3: IF YOU’RE NOT MOBILE, YOU’RE NOTHING

An essential component of a consumer-centric experience is full integration with the devices and platforms customers use the most. However, mobile has to be just one part of a seamless, omni channel experience. It doesn’t replace other channels, it enhances them – consumers may start the search on the bus or in the waiting room, but then complete the transaction from our laptop on the kitchen table.

If insurers are dedicated to investing in integrated mobile functionality and delivery channels, they will likely see costs go down as a result. For example, quicker registration and automated interactions will drive down administration costs (as well as offering a less bureaucratic customer experience). Well executed mobile and social media experiences can also reduce the cost to acquire and retain customers.

Snapsheet is building a white label, claims experience - allowing drivers to use their usual behavior on their phones to submit and receive claim information. A central capability is allowing drivers to take pictures of their damaged cars at the scene of the accident, and immediately upload them for appraisal and claims processing.

4: TAKE PART IN THE SHARING ECONOMY

Peer to peer business models are popping up around the world. The central thesis relies on the power of community and belonging and the trust this breeds. That is, when you share risk with people you know (even if just virtually), the incidents of fraud decrease, as do the number of claims. Fewer claims means lower premiums for the insured and lower administration costs for the insurer, and social network dependencies means lower acquisition and retention costs. Additionally, peer to peer models often incur lower acquisition costs.

Companies pursuing this model are building slick, customer-focused, data-driven insurance systems – like Lemonade, which recently launched in New York City. Lemonade is challenging some basic assumptions of the industry – namely the antagonistic relationships that can develop when denying your customers claims is a source of revenue. Instead, they take a flat fee for their services, and return the portion of unpaid claims to the members of the pool.

5: WELCOME TO THE AGE OF CUSTOMIZATION

Across industries digital capabilities allow companies to collect massive amounts of data and reorganize in terms of micro-experiences. The more data collected, the more insurers can tailor policies (and therefore prices) to individual risk profiles.

This includes an expansion of typical insurance products, with a focus on experiences – often called “insurable moments”. Slice provides customers with on-demand micro insurance for any event or activity, while Sure provides micro-duration life insurance coverage during single airplane flights. Finally, Trov catalogs and tracks an inventory of your belongings, with the ability to insure, sell, donate or share things through your phone. Insure any item in your inventory for any amount of time with a simple toggle on and off.

These types of micro-insurance remain relatively unexplored, posing a direct challenge to the traditional sales and  distribution models of insurance. They will continue to evolve, as the impact of larger trends – such as work preferences (freelance, customized) and the shared economy – continues to unfold.

What Next?

 The insurance industry is certainly ripe for innovation. Many of the institutional stalwarts are over 100 years old, and have demonstrated minimal capacity for innovation over their lifetime – and are currently unprepared to adapt to these impending realities. And these leading trends are only the beginning of the potential rapid transformation of the insurance industry as it figures out how to offer a more empathetic and integrated service.

Can we help you think more about these trends and their implications? If you’d like to talk through challenges to understand more about the industry transformation, please get in touch with me at clare.seekins@marketgravity.com.

[i] The Evolution of Insurance, https://www.sas.com/storefront/aux/en/spslvncy/62823_excerpt.pdf

[ii] Global Digital Insurance, 2015. Bain & Co. Report.


NEWS: Market Gravity predicts business trends for 2017

Technology will continue to be one of the biggest disrupting forces in big business in 2017, with innovations such as Blockchain and robo-advice finally breaking through. In 2016, we saw the time it takes to go from breakthrough technology to mass market application reducing as technology disruptors reshaped big business practice, and this breakneck pace doesn’t show signs of abating as we enter a new year.

Market Gravity's co-founder Gideon Hyde shares his predictions for 2017 and advises what big businesses should be doing to recognise 'tomorrow's business' and ensure they enhance their offerings to stand out in this increasingly competitive marketplace.

Blockchain 

Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen cites Blockchain as “one of the most fundamental inventions in the history of computer science". Put 'simply', Blockchain uses complex cryptography to ensure that financial transactions can be verified and can’t be tampered with, with minimal third party involvement.

Bitcoin is the best known application of Blockchain so far, but its potential extends far beyond digital currencies. The Blockchain process makes error and fraud easier to spot and it can remove the need for a middleman, thereby reducing costs. Indeed, experts say it is set to disrupt every industry where transactions and trust are key.

Robo-advice

An increasing number of businesses are developing and launching Robo-advice services for customers. Robo-advice involves replacing face-to-face advice with online, automated guidance and execution – not from an actual robot, but from an algorithm which engages with customers to create an improved experience. The savings and investment sector, in particular, has adopted this new technology to engage with their customers in a way that adds values and helps create an improved brand experience. Take the Standard Life Financial Butler, for example; an automated chat-based app that provides customers with a new way to explore and interact with their pensions and investments, make changes to their account information and get quick and easy access to Standard Life experts.

Whilst its growing popularity could mean the beginning of the end for traditional face-to-face advice, there is an opportunity for advisers who are willing to consider incorporating these automated services into their offering. Major banks are already beginning to do this by targeting potential customers considering their first steps into financial advice. This low-cost stepping stone can help get customers on side ready for when they may require more comprehensive guidance.

 Chat Bots – the rise of the chat interface

More and more companies are using Chat Bots to hold automated conversations with potential customers to help them make decisions that eventually lead to sales or bookings. The advantages to businesses considering using them are that they are less expensive to produce than apps, they help raise brand awareness and they can save human resourcing costs, effectively replacing the work of customer service agents and personal assistants. The prospect of Bots actually replacing human jobs is still a way off, however. Businesses should look at augmentation rather than replacement.  Bots can help make employees' lives easier by taking away some of the strain but, when enquiries become more complicated, customers will still require the help of a human being.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT), also known as 'connected devices’ or ‘smart devices’ has seen new products and services being launched and developed at a fast pace in the past couple of years. The continued development of connected devices, wearable tech and enhanced connectivity means the IoT is progressing into every part of our lives, potentially changing the way we live forever. From smart meters to automated lighting, customers are increasingly embracing these new technologies into their lives. These new, connected technologies are also changing the way we shop. Take, for example, the new megatrend known as 'frictionless retail', which could make wallets, checkouts and queues things of the past. To take advantage of these developments and create new growth opportunities, companies need be open to changing their traditional systems, procedures, processes and ways of communicating. They must embrace technology to maintain a competitive edge, enhance customer experiences and drive business growth. There are a wealth of companies embracing the technology, with further developments expected in the next year within utilities and energy, automotive (connected cars) and retail, as well as consumer electronics.

Voice and motion control interfaces

Recent developments in user interface (UI) - the way human beings interact with a device - are now offering us much more attractive options than a simple keyboard and a mouse.  Take voice recognition technology, for example, Apple's Siri - a personal assistant application designed to work through IOS. And, launched much more recently, Amazon's Echo. Using advanced voice technology, 'Alexa' can tell you the time, deliver news updates, play your music choices, notify you of your day's appointments and much more.

Another emerging UI was first foretold by Tom Cruise in the 2002 sci-fi movie, Minority Report when he was seen donning his magic gloves and gesturing at a screen to manipulate images and datasheets on his computer system. Now motion control, or gesture interface, is actually beginning to show us a future where computer systems will be able to interpret human hand gestures and emotion recognition from the face via mathematical algorithms. Users of the Blippar app will soon be able to scan people’s faces with their smartphone cameras to reveal their personal information as reported in the Evening Standard just this week.

VR and AR

Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have started to hit the mass market (see Facebook’s Oculus Rift) but the way in which they will affect businesses has yet to evolve. In 2017, the consumer and business content and application of VR and AR will become clearer. VR and AR has huge potential to control a flow of information to the consumer, integrated across mobile, wearable technology and IoT etc. allowing rooms and spaces to connect with consumers, virtual worlds and conversations. It’s possibly one of the most exciting areas to be working in for brands right now.

 

Gideon is one of the co-founders and a partner of Market Gravity and is passionate about creating growth and innovations businesses across the UK and beyond. He is an expert in helping big businesses launch significant new ventures into the marketplace and take them to scale. He led the programmes to develop and grow npower’s home energy services business, to launch B for Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group and to design and launch Retiready, Aegon’s digital retirement service.

If you'd like to understand more about these trends and how you can use them to grow your business, get in touch.

gideon.hyde@marketgravity.com