Some lessons learned along the way.
2015 is an important year for Federated Sample as $100 million of sample will be managed by the Fulcrum platform. It’s also milestone year because we are celebrating our 5th anniversary. In June 2010, Fulcrum launched with one buyer, ten suppliers, in one market: the United States. In 2015, we’ve had 86 buyers, 175 suppliers, in 65 countries, so far. Year over year growth on the platform is 40% with the Exchange growing at 117%. Suffice to say it’s boom times for the programmatic sampling industry with new clients joining the Exchange at twice the rate of 2014. Looking back over the years, I’d like to highlight a few lessons learned (sometimes the hard way).
- Team – Regardless of quality of product or market timing, if you don’t have a great team, then it’s very hard to succeed. We have some of the best and brightest in the industry and in New Orleans. Families have relocated to the area to participate in our dream. I’m often asked what I’m most proud of and the answer is simple: the incredible people I get to work with every day. They are the reason we are winning. I couldn’t be more humbled.
- Clients – Treat everyone working with your company as a client. It doesn’t matter who is paying whom, everyone working with you is vital to the long-term success of the company. Vendors are pivotal to making things work and so many companies seem to think they can push down, cut off, or generally fight with their vendors. What a mistake. Trust your partners and build on their successes with you.
- Friendships – Over the past decade in sampling, I’ve worked with some great people as colleagues, clients, and vendors. In building this incredible company, I’ve relied on those friendships because they’ve kept me honest. Friends are those that will tell you when the product is failing or the client service sucks. Friends are those that will tell you “no” and “you are not ready.” Trusting in other people and welcoming their candor has been key.
- Vision – Articulate where you are going… to everyone… including your competition. This is a hard learned lesson because it’s easy to believe that your competitors shouldn’t know what’s next. I disagree. Market leadership implies that your competition will one day be your partners. Tell everyone as often as possible what’s next. Include them in your vision… you may be surprised when they agree with you.
- Transparency – Revealing your secret sauce and then giving it to your partners may seem counterintuitive but it’s been one of the building blocks of success. We are all in this marketplace together and need the input and talents of the entire ecosystem.
So what’s in store for the next five years?
- Programmatic disrupts the buying and selling of sample in profound ways. Already 50% of sample delivered into Fulcrum happens via API.
- The overall market for sample increases as non-traditional buyers and sellers are able to tap in. The historical direct sales process limited technology companies from purchasing.
- Research in all its forms becomes more democratized and more surveys are run by more people.
- Fulcrum continues to be the #1 Exchange and DSP (Demand Side Platform) for sampling globally.