Have you ever made a life changing decision?
12 months ago, we did just that and created Hyper Group. As we turn one, we reflect on how our journey started, the challenges faced and what the future holds.
Where all great business ideas start out…the pub
The idea to start our own business was conceived over several months and incubated in the craft ale pubs of Leeds. Some of the details are sketchy for that very reason, but here’s what we remember of it.
The drag of corporate life had worn away at us all. We reached a point where we were ready to put our own necks on the line and attempt to build a successful business.
And so, our first start-up, Method Analytics, was born. Our business plan was formed during clandestine Saturday get-togethers in our kitchens, accompanied by continental meat and cheese boards. Flip charts were filled, grand visions shared and together we muddled through the company registration process and labyrinth that is the government’s business website.
Method Analytics was set-up to deliver data science and customer insight consulting projects to consumer-focused businesses.
The start-up journey is never linear
As we neared D-Day, ready to give notice to our employers and take the plunge on our own, we were approached by an established and successful technology and consulting business, looking to diversify into retail analytics.
Terms were agreed and we entered the halfway house of running a start-up within a corporate company. Many positives came from taking this slightly circuitous route to running our own business. Not least the opportunity to become immersed in cutting edge software for rapid data science and machine learning, something that has contributed greatly to Hyper’s product thinking.
There were also downsides. As much as corporate businesses state their intentions to innovate, it goes against their DNA in many cases. Ultimately the only way we could truly design and build the business we dreamed of was to go it alone. We therefore reverted to Plan A.
Introducing Hyper Group
We decided to set-up Hyper Group. Experience told us we needed to be ultra-focused, creating an offering that leverages our unique combination of skills and experience, satisfying an unmet need in a large and growing market.
The strengths of our team were clear. Solving crucial problems for consumer brands using data science and technology. These strengths were built over many years in a potent combination of world leading retail and media companies, cutting edge data, analytics and technology businesses and stand out creative agencies.
The unmet need was for a customer centric approach to key retail decisions on product assortment, pricing, supply chain and targeted marketing. In combination delivering a more personalised, rich, and rewarding customer experience.
We had been told by the CIO of one of the world’s leading consumer goods companies that the market leader in retail data and insight is a ‘big expensive mess’. Our own experience echoed that. This gave us confidence that we were focusing on the right thing.
Our efforts focused on using a proprietary combination of data science techniques and modern technology to deliver both consulting engagements and our nascent product suite.
We would help consumer businesses understand customer behaviour and need states in new ways, to recognise the affinity between customers and the products they buy and to use a data led approach to optimising major decisions.
The excitement and energy generated from owning and developing your own business cannot be understated. It is creative, liberating, and empowering. It’s also extremely scary at times.
The adrenalin hit of success is hugely satisfying and highly addictive. We have been fortunate to achieve a constant stream of small victories throughout our first 12 months, each one creating instant gratification followed by an insatiable appetite for more.
Within our first few weeks we’d secured contracts with one of the UKs most well known grocery retailers to support major decisions relating to their customer proposition, the exact sweet spot we’d identified when deciding the very essence of Hyper’s offering.
One hit wonder or long-term success story?
The wins kept on coming. Further work from our founding client, helping deliver data led personalisation across physical and digital stores and providing insight to guide pricing and supply chain decisions.
We settled into our new digs, part of a Deloitte and Market Gravity run retail tech innovation hub. A fitting location overlooking Trinity shopping centre in the buzzing centre of Leeds.
Our success then extended to clients in different retail sectors. Supporting data led transformation, personalised marketing, and product range optimisation.
Additional endorsement of our direction was in evidence when we won in a place in the prestigious Retail Week Discovery 50, a directory of the hottest retail tech start-ups globally.
The road ahead
Towards the end of our first year the world was turned upside down by Covid-19. Many areas of retail are in disarray. Most physical shops have been shut, demand for many product categories has gone through the floor and retailers teetering on the edge before the pandemic have begun to disappear into the abyss.
We have been fortunate, and work has continued to come our way, but there is no denying it has slowed the pace of growth for most businesses reliant on consumer spending.
We are proud to be doing our bit to help in this time of crisis. Using data science to help clients understand the impact of the disease on their organisation and to mitigate the challenge as best they can.
Work at Hyper continues apace on developing both our consultancy offering and product suite. We continue to hone what we do and received further validation of client demand via new project wins and progress towards selection for prestigious start-up incubators with prominent brands.
Still, we have questions
Despite a hugely positive 12 months we still have many questions and areas we can clearly improve on. For example, what is the right balance between focusing on consulting and product development? How can we amplify our success stories to reach the people we need to hear about them? How quickly shall we hire new staff, beyond those we have already employed?
Finding the right mentors to help with these thorny queries is a challenge itself. The army of lone business consultants, stalking LinkedIn for vulnerable start-up prey, is remarkable. Filtering through to find those who have truly been there, done it and are willing to impart their previous experience is no easy task.
To the next 12 months and beyond
We move into year 2 with confidence, high profile clients and much to look forward to as we gain traction with our product.
We hope the retail industry recovers to some extent as we adapt to the new, socially distant normal. And we believe our offering will directly help them.
Having the right size and composition of product range is vital, to win share of reduced customer wallets.
Pricing must be revisited to establish the degree of elasticity for each product and meet strategic goals relating to customer acquisition, retention, and positioning vs competitors.
Supply chains have been bamboozled by soaring and crashing demand. Forecasts need to be re-worked with a different approach, given year on year comparisons are no longer valid.
And perhaps most importantly, understanding customers as individuals and demonstrating empathy via personalised experiences has become table stakes for retailers to survive.
Whatever the next 12 months brings, we approach it with optimism and pride in how far Hyper Group has come in our first year.
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