It feels like just yesterday we took outside funding for the first time, after eight years of bootstrapping. That was 2018. Since then, we’ve seen incredible traction – tripling licence revenues and scaling the team to 400 people. 

This success is rooted in solving a big problem: understanding audiences in the digital age.

This is foundational knowledge that every business of every size needs in order to be successful. 

For over a generation, getting that knowledge meant turning to a market research agency. But as I’ve said before – market research as we know it has utterly failed

This is an industry that stubbornly refuses to evolve, clinging on to high-cost, service-based models, offline methods, and a lack of scale. And it’s been costing businesses a lot.

We’ve leveraged technology to change that, and to reinvent how market research works. Today we continuously collect millions of responses to represent the views of over 2.7 billion people, from 48 markets, all made available in a market-leading platform, so anyone can jump in and get the answers they need.

The level of demand for this has surpassed my expectations. 

That’s why we’re doubling down, and what’s led to some exciting news; we’ve raised over $180m Series B funding from Permira’s growth fund

This is a major milestone for us and I’m incredibly proud and grateful to everyone who’s helped us get here – especially our dedicated GWIers, our loyal customers, and our fantastic partners. 

We’re on a mission to plug better quality audience insights into every workflow, and this investment will help us drive that forward. 

A changing landscape

Anyone can engage and serve customers from anywhere in the world. All they need is easy access to the right answers. 

The need, and demand, for good quality audience insight that provides these answers has never been greater:

  • The pandemic proved how fast things can shift, and how important it is to stay close to consumers with insight you can trust. 
  • There’s a growing abundance of data out there, but with this comes a serious need for quality, and one version of the truth.
  • COVID-19 has changed the way companies rely on data, driving the need to infuse it into new parts of the business, at speed. 
  • The art of data storytelling is expanding – and it’s not about data, but the human insight you can extract from it that really matters.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a definite shift in demand from expert researchers to people in all kinds of roles, from large enterprises to companies of all sizes, and from U.S. and Western Europe to markets everywhere. 

People want to know more about their audiences, no matter what role, department or business they’re in. 

Putting instant answers in the right hands

This growing thirst for knowledge is what’s pushing us forward.

A new client of ours, Grind, is a growing coffee roasting company building a direct-to-consumer model, delivering coffee beans all over the world. Relying on traditional market research to evaluate their core target market and identify their highest value audiences would cost millions, take around six months, and still be limited in scale and scope. 

It’s no joke to say it would be a quick and easy path to bankruptcy.

We’re solving this problem through technology. Continuously and ethically collecting survey data representing over 2.7 billion people is a massive technology effort, rooted in automation, data handling and processing – all to pre-collect the data you need, so it’s instantly available. 

The other piece of the puzzle is making that data as simple as possible to access, analyze and extract insight, in a cost-effective way. 

Democratization is vital to this, and it’s why we’re a platform-first business offering fast access to the world’s largest and most detailed data set on the online consumer. 

All this helps us put instant answers in the right hands, giving businesses a much better chance of achieving their goals.

Looking ahead: what’s next?

But that’s not all there is to it.

We want to help humans everywhere better understand each other. 

That’s a big statement. I know that. And it holds a lot of meaning. For us, it’s about helping people understand and appreciate human perspectives from every angle.

Here’s what we’re investing in to help:

1. Providing instant answers to any question. We want to be able to offer up answers to any question, in the moment they’re needed. This means capturing more views from more people in more markets – particularly underserved markets, groups and segments. 

2. Building a platform for anyone. Uncovering insights should be as easy as a Google search. And not only that.

Embedding insights in your organization should be effortless – whether you’ve got five people, or five million. 

We want to make that a reality for anyone, and that means investing more in things like UX innovation, sharing functionality, machine learning, and natural language processing for insights automation, to name but a few.

3. Proving the true value of instant insight. Most businesses are well aware of the need for a deep understanding of their audiences, but for many, this is still a one-off piece of research undertaken every year. This mentality needs to change. We see the impact plugging insights into your everyday life can have on your business, and we’re committed to telling that story. 

I’m incredibly excited about this next chapter and the opportunities this investment will unlock for us. Another huge thanks to everyone who’s been with us on this exciting journey and made our growth possible. 

We’ve got big plans. Let’s see them through together.

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Written by

Tom Smith is founder and CEO of GWI. Having spent several years working agency-side, he recognized a growing demand for global insights to better understand the complex online market. And that demand kept on growing. Coupling the world's largest study on the digital consumer with powerful analytics, GWI is now the leading audience insights company, representing the views of over 2.7 billion people.

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