How We Launched A Business Intelligence Solution [United Kingdom]

Craig Smith
Founder, Decidable
$1K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
2
Employees
Decidable
from London, UK
started February 2021
$1,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
2
Employees
6.29M
alexa rank
11
followers
407
followers
9
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How We Launched A Business Intelligence Solution [United Kingdom]

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

We are Team Decidable. Myself, Craig Smith, Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer and Mike Bugembe, Chief Executive Officer and Head of Product and whose brainchild the original vision for Decidable belongs to.

Decidable has been created to automatically translate complex digital data into short, easy to read stories, so that everyone can engage with, understand and use insights to make decisions (not just the very clever analysts and data scientists)

Our lead product is automated Google Analytics as stories for Acquisition, Conversion and Revenue and this is supported by another product that builds on that principle and offers an enhanced combination of e-commerce data sources into the Decidable platform as automated daily, weekly and monthly stories for each kpi.

We help UK e-commerce companies between £5m - £50m who want to find all the missed revenue in their data that enables them to grow quickly.

Some of our Beta customers have been seeing daily revenue increases of between 25% - 40% through mitigating website issues and growth opportunities that had been missed previously.

We are in the early stages of revenue growth but getting traction.

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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I have been working in brand and digital for over 25 years, and Mike has been working with data and analytics for 20 years (I’m a little older than he is!). We have both seen the challenges with the low levels of insight adoption for decision making from both sides to it seemed portentous that we were introduced on this topic not long after I finished my time at Ted Baker in 2019.

Mike actually started his Decidable journey by writing his bestselling book, ‘Cracking the Data Code’ which really began as an angry letter to business leaders who couldn’t get to grips with the value of the data within their organisations and how to work with it to grow.

Once we started to draw out the vision for data storytelling and how the translation of complex data into short-form stories started to remove all the current obstacles within a business, we got very excited.

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Fortunately, Mike had spent about two years researching this area from a technical perspective, so he was ready to bring his thoughts together. I was coming to the end of a contract, so the timing was perfect for us to join forces and get ready for fundraising.

We recognised very early that because the topic area is quite conceptual, we would need to educate teams on this idea in order to sell in the value it will create, but as they say, ‘nothing worth doing is ever easy to do’ right.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Once we closed the Seed funding round, which took place across three months and approx 25 mixed investor group Zoom calls, we set about developing the core platform, how it would work with data, and how it began to turn data into text and then into some form of cohesive and intelligent narrative.

We spent a lot of time in workshops building a huge list of all the things we wanted the platform to be able to do and then more sessions getting that list down to the ‘must haves’ so would have loved to have had a crystal ball earlier in that stage to cut to the chase.

After several missteps and false starts with our early tech partners, we moved on to how to get the balance of the narrative to be right between the quality of the insight and the quality of the grammar and sentence/paragraph structuring and that took a fair bit of time.

We were quite clear that we didn’t want Decidable to be anything like any other data / analytics solutions and maybe the notion of this got in the way of what our customers really felt comfortable with during the Alpha and early Beta testing phases.

The tone of voice and the language we started to use also got modified through this process as we began to feel it was too clever for its own good and good to have caught this early.

We ended up developing a proprietary storytelling engine that automatically generates narrative using the Kelvin Flesch scoring methodology to ensure the text is read easily + and understood by the most amount of people whilst retaining the detail required to be a useful insight in and of itself.

We knew what we wanted to do from the beginning. It is To design a Business Intelligence solution like no other in the market. It has been designed from a user's perspective, akin to a social platform so highly intuitive and engaging because it’s so easy to work with.

It was much more expensive than we had thought it would be, so it had to be really good.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Our initial launch was quite drawn out as we had a couple of hiccups on the product such as when we got the end to end customer journeys wrong so nothing fed through from onboarding and when we chose a new interface color that was an issue for legibility guidelines, so we needed to craft new launch messaging and align that with the new website copy that was launching simultaneously.

We had had a holding site up for an extended period of time through our Alpha and initial Beta phase, and this got modified extensively for the launch version in September.

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Be brave (you thought it was a good idea, right?) but be warned it’s bloody hard work, and there is a growing feeling that there is no off switch.

The initial funding round was relatively smooth, a fascinating process of conversations and discussions and then decisions and took about three months to close, which we did in February ‘21.

We learned a lot about the various types of investors that are out there and what their ambitions might be and how this influences why they will (or won’t invest), and how long they are likely to be around.

One thing we should have done more carefully is to understand exactly what potential customers they have to hand in and are willing to bring into the conversation.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We spent a lot of time talking to SaaS website experts about our site and got a couple of teardowns that highlighted a number of areas of consideration and decided to redesign it entirely to factor in some of these shortcomings.

I have taught myself how to develop a CRM and sales lead solution and select prospects and build cold email campaigns, so they are all good new skills. We worked with the service Appollo to start to talk to senior e-commerce leaders and learned hope to craft engaging 5 part campaigns that were live over a six-week period.

We saw opening rates north of 50% which gave us a sense of what was working and what was not. We saw open rates swing between 8 and 15% and it was fascinating to see the results of the A/B testing on subject lines alone.

We have spent an awful lot of time doing third-party directory listings to ensure we are part of the conversation and have honed all of our messaging accordingly and am now doing extended tech outreach PR to support this.

We have also done our first webinar and newsletter, so we hope to build out through these as channels for awareness and thought leadership.

Through all of this, the key learnings have been to write an exhaustive list of the various inbound and outbound channels activities there are and start to ask your peers for pros and cons, then shortlist these, test and learn and then shortlist again as there is always limited time available for you to spend on them so do what works and be strict with yourself on doing them consistently and regularly.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are still at an early stage and it’s tough. Getting up and running with the refreshed product offer and website took a lot of time and energy, but our Beta customers' initial results have been pretty compelling, so that’s what counts.

It’s a small team with a couple of high-quality, agency teams in support across product, website, and brand, so it's easy enough to manage, but we hope this will become a problem as we grow.

The data storytelling space is still conceptual to most, particularly in the UK, but McKinsey and Forrester are pretty clear that it will become the preeminent mechanic for delivering insight by 2025.

We signed up with a business LinkedIn agency that has helped us have helped us completely redefine ourselves as figures of authority and foundational work on what a content approach should look like to create engagement and sales leads. The fascinating Fascinating journey so far. I have gone from getting a max of 1,800 views of a post to having most of them over 50,000 views, so something is working.

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Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The list of mistakes and ‘aha’ moments is long and painful to read but ultimately all for the better. In reality, there is an awful lot of pressure on the founding team to get into a rhythm of openness and honesty in week one and never stray from this approach.

So much time can be wasted by not getting to the point on something, talking it through and agreeing on what is best for the business as quickly as possible, and then moving into the ‘doing’ mode.

DON'T do it for the money. Validate your idea however you can, via your own network, friends, Twitter, whatever, before you build anything.

Also, try to get to the point where you feel brilliant about one thing instead of multiple things and make that your sales focus. Messaging is hard enough to craft with one thing, let alone many.

Talk to each other as much as you can and make sure you record what is being discussed as getting good governance practices in place straight away will breed other good business habits and give investors confidence in you and your approach.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We are currently using:

  • Hubspot for CRM and sales
  • Apollo.io for cold email work
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator for prospecting and building business relationships
  • GSuite for our general day to day
  • SC Spheres for all of our governance documentation. These tick all of our boxes right now

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

This is a great question, and there are a few that stand out for differing reasons;

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Be brave ( you thought it was a good idea right? ) but be warned it’s bloody hard work and there is a growing feeling that there is no off switch.

DON'T do it for the money. Validate your idea however you can, via your own network, friends, Twitter, whatever, before you build anything.

Get a sense of whether people feel it’s a problem worth solving and then build what they need and are willing to pay for. Don’t mess about things that do not make your product better.

Where can we go to learn more?

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Craig Smith, Founder of Decidable
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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