What Makes a Research Enterprise in Asia?

Asia Research interviews James Rogers, Managing Director APAC of PureSpectrum to understand what is needed to ‘make’ a research enterprise in Asia. We look at the success factors, the challenges, and the opportunities faced.

TELL US MORE ABOUT PURESPECTRUM THE COMPANY
PureSpectrum by nature is here to make researchers’ jobs easier. Formed in 2015 by industry veteran Michael McCrary, the original goal of our platform was to address the accessibility of global audiences and provide efficiencies compounded by a clear quality offering. Today those goals remain the same but for end-to-end data collection and visualisation. We embraced client demand and evolved to become more than a sample marketplace; we are now a complete end-to-end market research and insights platform.

 

HOW LONG HAS PURESPECTRUM OPERATED IN SINGAPORE, AND WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR SETTING UP IN SINGAPORE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

PureSpectrum opened its doors in Singapore (and APAC) on 1st April, 2021. While we had been conducting business in the region via our EMEA offices, the decision to open up fundamentally came down to two things: product–market fit and finding the right talent.

As with any product, making sure the target market is mature enough and the offering is in its right stage of development is imperative. Asia (and ANZ markets) have been some of the fastest to adapt and grow tech-based platforms globally. We felt the timing was perfect, not just for adoption, but also for us as a company to expand on our global successes. Singapore was the logical choice given its centricity to the overall region, as well as its incredible talent pool and resources available for ground-breaking tech.

PureSpectrum has always attributed much of its success to the organisation’s talent density. And talent, of course, played a major role in all of our hires both in Singapore and also in Sydney, Australia. When operating from afar (HQ is in California), international employees need to have demonstrated experience and leadership, which is true of all six of our hires to date.

WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR KEY CHALLENGES IN ENTERING THE SINGAPORE MARKET? WAS ANYTHING UNEXPECTED?

Probably the hardest challenge we faced as an organisation entering Singapore when we did was the impact locally and regionally of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to navigate a series of mandatory lockdowns restricting movement in Singapore and regionally. It also had a significant impact on hiring talent, especially when we needed to hire to serve the wider Asian markets vs local Singapore. When all’s said and done, however, those restrictions and challenges forced us to prioritise what was most important, and most scalable, and ultimately became the blueprint to our success.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SUCCESS FACTORS IN SINGAPORE? HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR BUSINESS IN WHAT IS ONE OF THE MOST COMPETITIVE RESEARCH MARKETS?

The advantage of providing a web-based Sample Marketplace/Insights Platform is that location, for the most part, is secondary to the offering itself. Yes, Singapore and Asia, in general, are very competitive. However, the efficiencies PureSpectrum provides have proved to be a game-changer for our clients. In just shy of 11 months, we have onboarded well over 150 regional clients in 10 markets who have utilised our platform for over a million consumer interviews to date. Our technology allows the customer to be in control of their budgets and timing. This coupled with PureScore™, our industry-leading respondent-level scoring system, makes for a very appealing offer.

HOW HAVE YOU BEEN IMPACTED BY COVID-19? WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE RECOVERY MARKET OR LONGER TERM?

If anything, COVID-19 accelerated PureSpectrum business in the region (and elsewhere), given the accessibility of our offering despite restrictions. Southeast Asia especially has led the way in adopting technology in traditional industries such as banking, telco, insurance, and CPG, so it’s no surprise that the pandemic expedited those ‘waiting and seeing’. We are focused less on ‘recovery’ per se and more on how we can help our customers, who range from traditional MRAs to media agencies and brands, to do more, do it faster, and ultimately make the best-informed decisions.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A START-UP RESEARCH/CONSUMER INSIGHT FIRM IN SINGAPORE TODAY?

Ultimately the best advice I could give would be to stay present. For me, it’s about being aware of what is happening in the market now, especially when it comes to client demands, technologies being used, and the habits of the consumer you ultimately serve. You have to constantly question whether your approach, while proven in the past, is right for today. At PureSpectrum we always ask ourselves if we are serving the demand, what more we can do to improve, and what comes next. My final advice would be to hire well. Do not try and ‘save’ on talent.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD ENTREPRENEUR IN YOUR VIEW?

Over the years I think my picture of a ‘good’ entrepreneur has changed somewhat. Having been present at various stages of multiple start-ups, I have seen many, but I believe that there are singular traits that hold regardless. If we take the money factor off the table (which is a necessity), then adaptability, curiosity, and professional and personal motivations are key. Good/successful entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are pioneers with their thinking, humble with their successes, transparent with their failures, and celebratory of the achievements of those that stand with them.

This article was first published in the Q1 2022 edition of Asia Research Media