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News  19, Jun 2013

Decision Fuel takes a bite out of the US$36B consumer research market

Decision FuelDecision Fuel aims to offer a disruptive and scalable mobile platform for market research, with real time results.

Making big decisions in business often requires a lot of information and data. While the decision-making process can sometimes be left to A/B testing, market surveys and even consensus among executives, big data plays a big role in the choices that companies now make.

But while big data has been a buzzword in the enterprise market, not all businesses have big enough data sets, and the cost of running such campaigns can be prohibitive. Sometimes, there is value in bite-sized pieces of data and information, especially if it can scale. This is especially an important proposition in markets where mobile devices are the primary means of connectivity.

Here’s where Decision Fuel comes in. Decision Fuel offers a “fresh approach to market research” by offering its enterprise customers cost-effective campaigns that will help in the decision making process. The Hong Kong-based startup is the first startup on the portfolio of Shanghai-based crowdsourced investment platform SeedAsia.

Read also: SeedAsia launches membership-based fund, seeks startups to finance

Decision Fuel was part of Startup Marketplace at Echelon 2013. e27 sought some words from co-founder and CEO Patrick “Paddy” Corr, who shared on why the startup can offer a disruptive model for decision-making among businesses.

Tell us more about Decision Fuel. From what we know, you offer big data analytics to help enterprises with their marketing and decision-making. What’s your unique selling point or differentiator?

Decision Fuel is a disruptive and highly scalable mobile technology platform. It helps organizations make better, faster and more informed decisions by making the task of generating tailored customer research dramatically faster and simple. Short, simple research can be deployed in minutes using Decision Fuel to a specific target audience anywhere in the world, via any mobile device and on virtually any topic. To date, the platform has fielded over 15 million responses in 26 countries. The platform works on devices from the most advanced smartphone, to basic feature phones – a main factor in the key consumer markets of Asia.

Decision Fuel has created an entirely new and intuitive way to gather tailored customer data. Buyers of research and insights have a significant need for tailored, reliable data delivered within the fast cycle times and highly iterative approach of how companies function today. The product is also designed to make it easy for those who are NOT research experts to launch and run credible research, with minimum fuss. The platform is also designed with intuitive self-serve SaaS delivery in mind, making Decision Fuel a very scalable platform targeting a substantial unmet need across a broad range of companies/organisations.

With the immediacy and access of mobile surveys, Decision Fuel shines when traditional research methods fall short (too slow, too expensive or unable to reach target customers). The opportunity is significant: worldwide, US$36  billion spent annually on consumer research (most of that on quantitative research). Of that, the burgeoning consumer markets of Asia are the core growth area. Tapping the benefits of mobile are widely acknowledged as the major disruptive change set to shake up the consumer insights sector.  Optimized for mobile and with deep experience of Asia, Decision Fuel is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of this major industry step change.

Tell me about your team? What’s the history behind your team and product?

Decision Fuel’s team is based between Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. The company has an exceptionally capable and experienced team with expertise in business management, market research, software development and sales in Asia and beyond.

The founders, Patrick Corr and Colin Marson, have been long term buyers and users of market research across a range of industries. Both have spent over 12 years in Asia Pacific, as management consultants, then working in senior corporate management roles (in media and FMCG respectively). They wanted to create an insights product that solved problems they faced on a regular basis as managers. Decision Fuel was about creating reliable, fast-turnaround research that fits with how organizations operate day to day.

The company’s Chairman, Adrian Chedore, is Hong Kong based and was the founder and Global CEO of Synovate (a top 5 global market insights firm, acquired by Ipsos for US$810 million in 2011).

What’s Decision Fuel’s business model? How about sources of revenue?

Decision Fuel has two core product areas: (i) paid access to mobile consumers using Decision Fuel surveys and pre-selected mobile panels; and (ii) paid access to Decision Fuel technology (allows clients to build and run exclusive respondent panels using existing customer databases).

Tiered subscriptions drive revenues in both of the core product areas, using a range of channels to market including (1) direct accounts, (2) reseller/partner network, and (3) direct SaaS (software-as-a-service). The scalable SaaS platform will become an increasingly key driver of revenues.

Who is your main target client? Do you have geographical targeting, or are you open to expanding to the region or globally?

Decision Fuel is designed for senior decision-makers, marketers, analysts, strategists and business development teams in consumer-facing companies (e.g., consumer goods, media owners); advisors & investors (e.g., PE/VC firms, hedge funds, consultants); media and research agencies; and non-corporate clients (e.g., business schools, local government, NGOs).

Decision Fuel is also ideal for situations where traditional research is either to slow or too expensive. Decision Fuel targets becoming “part of the fabric” of making decisions, and the target client list includes those who do not carry out traditional research today.

Decision Fuel launched in mid-2012 and is generating real traction. Its paying client base already includes P&G, Nike, Colgate, several WPP and Publicis agencies and hedge funds/equity analyst teams. The company has a particular focus on emerging Asia, but also sees a strong global growth story.

Can you tell us something about support from SeedAsia? Apart from SeedAsia’s crowd-funding, do you have other institutional investors?

Decision Fuel is the first company selected by SeedAsia to list on their platform. We are excited about being selected and look at the listing and the partnership as a great channel to introduce Decision Fuel to new investors, and to bring a compelling new funding mechanism to Asia.

The Decision Fuel founders bootstrapped the company through initial development and raised initial seed funding in two tranches from individual investors. Total funding to date of US$1.5 million has moved Decision Fuel into full commercial operation (commercial launch mid 2012), and the platform has now fielded 15 million questions across 26 countries worldwide.

The company is now actively raising its next capital round, from either larger angel investors or institutional. This next tranche will help the business achieve the next round of key milestones, including further rollout of the platform in Asia and emphasis on simple SaaS delivery.

Featured Image Credits: Shutterstock

J. Angelo Racoma

J. Angelo Racoma

A technology and automotive journalist with an interest in emerging standards, J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo has been active in online media since the early blogging and social networking days, and is co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing platform for freelancers.

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