Business

Blue Dot rolls out

Blue Dot – Market research company aiming to be the Neilsen of the Caribbean

BY DENNISE WILLIAMS
Contributor

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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When you walk into your favourite store and see an item that catches your eye, how does the merchant know that the placement of the item at a particular location in the store worked? And what about when you're watching TV, how can the advertiser know if your eyes are following the ad in detail?

Based on the card swipes in the pharamacies around Kingston, can the Ministry of Health tell that there will soon be a flu outbreak? And when your heart beats with excitement for that new car, how can the dealer record your heart rate to know specifically which automobile brand to send offer texts and ads about on your mobile phone to entice a car purchase?

Welcome to the new frontier of data-driven tracking of consumer behaviour. And leading this new frontier in Jamaica is Larren J Peart, managing director of Blue Dot Data Intelligence Ltd, a company bringing Silicon Valley standards to Jamaica. The Branson Centre of Entrprenuership member shares his vision with the Jamaica Observer.

Dennise Wiliams (DW): What is data intelligence? Consumer neuroscience? Eye tracking? Heart tracking for consumers walking in a store or anywhere else?

Larren Peart (LP): Data intelligence is about transforming raw data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into value or insight. Most companies (and individuals) generate data daily just by simply performing typical operations and processes, but are unfortunately not aware of the amount of knowledge that can be gained by just taking a deep dive into that data in an effort to find problems, trends and opportunities.

A good example of what my company Bluedot Data Intelligence Ltd helps our clients with can be seen from an English example. Tesco, a large supermarket chain, looked at their data and tracked demographics and spending behaviours of their consumers and one of the interesting things they found out was that fathers who buy diapers also bought a lot of beer. Why? Well, Dads with newborns cannot go out as often anymore so they buy more beers so that they can drink at home! So, Tesco placed beers next to diapers and beer sales shot up!

They wouldn't have unearthed this type of actionable insight from their data if they never analysed it.

DW: Why do I need insight?

LP: All of us are subject heavily to biases that creep into our unconscious thinking processes; and we have a selective bias that allows us to fool ourselves into thinking that because we were right once or twice, our intuition is flawless. There is an age-old debate about instinct vs insight and I have met many a marketer or business owner/manager who rely mostly on instinct.

Though I believe that instinct is important in some instances, I don't think important decisions should be made without solid research or data to inform important decisions.

DW: What is the size of business that would need your services?

LP: Unfortunately, the general perception is that market research is expensive and that only large companies can afford it. With my background in IT, my focus has to large extent been on finding more efficient ways to give our clients the data they need to make important decisions cheaper and quicker, via the use of cutting edge technology and methodologies.

DW: What led you to become an entrepreneur? Why not stay in a 9-to-5 job and have fun on the weekend?

LP: That's a really good question and I ask myself that question almost everyday. Entrepreneurship is hard, very, very hard and I have been tempted many a time to call my ex-boss and ask him for my old job back. I've always been entrepreneurial from my early school days of selling items and later putting on parties with my friends in high school.

I left my good, good 9-to-5 job because I could no longer fight the bug and the time came when I was no longer adding value to my employers, which was unfair to them – and you can only juggle a job and a side-hustle for so long without one or both of them suffering. I think a lot of us business owners/entrepreneurs romanticise the process too much without revealing the struggles and raw grit necessary ( I have recently realised how guilty I am of this) to stay afloat in these endeavours.

DW: What are the biggest challenges? What are the biggest successes?

LP: Well.. Cash flow is a bad word and that's one of the biggest challenges I encountered very early on, and I am still learning how to manage cash flow in the business. Any business owner who has lost sleep over meeting payroll will understand what I mean. I once had to pawn my car to meet payroll because of poor receivables management. Luckily for me, some cheques came in a couple days later.

Our biggest successes, I think, would be that for a 3-year-old company we've been able to add a lot of value to our clients in Jamaica, USA, Canada, UK and nine Caribbean islands.

DW: What role does Branson play in your business development? What interaction do you have with other Branson entrepreneurs?

LP: I can't state enough the value that I've received from the BCoEC (Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean). Blue Dot was just a mere thought and aspiration when I got accepted into the cohort and since then, through their leadership and literal hand-holding I strongly believe we are on our way to making a meaningful impact in Jamaica and the region. Also, the interaction with my fellow young entrepreneurs has been priceless as we feed off of each other's energy, which is super important, and we complement each others business any chance we get.

DW: You have an aspiration to be listed on Jamaica Stock Exchange…where did that come from after three years? Is it more than just getting money?

LP: I am but a dreamer and I set scary, audacious goals for myself and the company. Listing on the Junior Stock Exchange is on my 3-5 year target list. If for no other reason, that goal forces us to put all the governance and structure in place from now (and before) to meet the requirements and revenue targets.

Also, I believe in the power of data and how it can be used as a force for good and transformation for not only companies but for countries and economies at large. We have grand ambitions and the capital from such an initiative would help us to achieve those goals whilst returning value and a possible exit to our shareholders. We are also currently courting some potential investors to help us meet our targets sooner.

DW: Give me an outlook for the next 10 years for Blue Dot.

LP: My grand goal is for Blue Dot to be the Nielsen of the Caribbean and I am squarely focused on that. Many international companies seeking to invest in our region have a harder time doing so because of a lack of data to support decisions. We hope to change that.

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