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Those of you who know me and the story behind GWI will know my passion for bootstrapping the company. This has been a core part of our DNA and approach; staying lean and fully focused on our mission to give every business in the world the power of audience insight.

By all measures, we’ve been successful. We’ve challenged some of the biggest names in market research, establishing ourselves as the global standard for audience data, used by the biggest technology companies, media organizations and brands around the world.

We’re solving a critical business problem – helping organizations everywhere develop new levels of audience understanding.

For us, having leading clients like Google, CNN and Spotify relying on our data is an amazing validation of what we’ve built.

So why are we now taking on a very belated Series A round of funding? Undoubtedly, this was a tough decision, but ultimately the right one. Here’s why.

1. We can cater to the increasing demand for insight.

When I started out, only large marketing agencies and publishers, predominantly in the U.S. and across Western Europe, were buying audience research.

Today, the opportunity is far greater, thanks to social media and self-service advertising platforms like Google and Facebook transforming the way companies can engage in marketing.

Hundreds of millions of brands now run marketing programs in-house, and this is reflected in our evolving user base:

Our fastest-growing users are SMEs and in-house marketers.

This proves the need for new solutions to cater for these new use cases.

There’s also the realization that behavioral analytics or passively-collected data is not fit for purpose when it comes to developing deep, reliable consumer insights.

This is why we work with all the biggest names in internet and technology; we can offer them data they could never gather elsewhere.

In 2009, this simply wasn’t the case, and forming a solution centered around market research was considered somewhat crazy, as many saw it as a thing of the past. Today, especially in the post-GDPR era, this is the only way forward.

2. We can meet evolving customer needs.

But it’s not just deeper insight modern marketers are looking for.

We’re seeing an increasing need for insight that’s tailored to business objectives, easily accessible and fully integrated with their own technology.

Clients are continuously asking for more bespoke market research studies, and our solution is extremely compelling versus legacy providers.

With the ability to identify and profile niche audiences anywhere in the world, overlay with our core data (which adds over 25,000 data points to their custom survey), link to web analytics and access all of this research in one platform, some of the world’s largest and most iconic brands have been able to drive award-winning projects.

This technology-driven approach to market research works, but it requires more investment in order to scale.

3. We can expand our data reach and taxonomy.

Today, we provide insights into 44 markets, leveraging our world-leading panel representing over two billion consumers, to the biggest names in the industry.

But we’re not stopping there, because the demand for more granular, global and local data is only going in one direction.

Moving forward, we’ll continue expanding our own proprietary panels, investing more in our network panels across borders in our ultimate mission to represent every internet user on the planet.

We’ll also be moving to more regular data releases and developing more data products.

4. We can continue developing our platform.

Our platform has been a market leader for some time, but we’ll never stop improving.

A key challenge here is our diversifying user base, which is increasingly made up of non-expert data users.

This means building solutions that enable anyone to get value, and a key part of the decision to bring on Stripes Group was to be able to commit to the building of a new platform and an entirely new user experience around data analysis.  

5. We can hire more world-class talent.

From day one, our people have been at the heart of what we do.

And in a bid to find top talent, wherever it may be geographically, we’ve opened three new offices in the past 18 months alone, along with several technology hubs across Europe.

Hiring the best means we can not only provide the best solutions, but the support to match.

With this funding, we can continue expanding our world-class, global team of data experts across engineering, account management and customer success to serve client needs across the board, placing a key focus on the industry’s fastest growing segments across mid-market, SMEs and corporate.

I’ve met with a lot of investors, but Stripes Group stood out for me as a great partner that shares our vision and believes in our culture.

Together, we look forward to bringing about a new era of market research, with first-class software, strong client relationships and an unrivalled, expanded offering of consumer insight.


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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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