In Fall 2014, the New Orleans-based programmatic sampling network Federated Sample announced Fulcrum, the first open sample operating system, is now an independent division of the company.
Fulcrum is the global technology platform for the buying and selling of sample for the Market Research Industry, and is now the largest DSP (Demand-Side Platform) and exchange for the buying and selling of sample.
Fulcrum has been developed over the last five years and has now hit $100 million of sample. In June 2010 the company began with one buyer, ten suppliers and in one market. In 2014, over 200 active buyers and sellers were expected to transact over $40 million in over 70 countries.
Federated Sample CEO Patrick Comer recently shared some of his lessons learned over the last five years:
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.
Over the next five years, Comer expects not only Fulcrum to remain the number one DSP, but that the overall market for sample increases as non-traditional buyers and sellers are able to tap in. Additionally, he predicts programmatic disrupts to the buying and selling of sample and research in all its forms becomes more democratized and more surveys are run by more people.