Sima Vasa, CEO & Founder of Infinity Squared Ventures interviews our very own, Vin DeRobertis, the CEO of Savanta Americas, on the Data Gurus podcast: Navigating the Data Ecosystem.
In this episode, Vin shares his career journey and talks about building Savanta. He discusses acquisitions, gives his perspective on the research industry, and talks about the challenges he experienced with doing a UK startup on American soil.
Vin’s career journey
Vin spent about three years working as a programmer for the NPD Group before moving on to their Online Operations. He left the NPD Group to work for Carbonview and later joined e-Rewards, where he remained for the next eleven years.
Vin started working for MIG Global in 2017. They needed to create an economy of scale, so in February of 2019, they built a house of brands that comes together under the research umbrella of Savanta at Next 15 Communications.
Vendors at large research firms have a unique view of the field. Vin has sold sample and other research services to well over 1,000 agencies globally, so he had the opportunity to see how different businesses performed. Although he was surprised at times, most of his guesses were correct. That helped him make some of his deals.
Doing successful deals
In America, Savanta did three successful deals. Vin had to reach out to many different companies to achieve that.
When looking at acquisitions, the most challenging part of Vin’s job is finding the right-sized company that wants to sell to him at the right time.
The ultimate success
For Vin, the ultimate success is offering someone 115% of what they thought they would get two years before.
Finding the right buyer
You need to know which approach to take with your buyers. Sometimes, you know that someone is 100% your buyer. When you really get into what you are doing, you start to see that someone who looks like they are only 50% of your buyer could also be your buyer, but you have to speak to them differently.
Vin’s his perspective of the industry
Vin feels that research has been a cottage industry for a long time, and it gets dwarfed by marketing and advertising. He believes that even though research is a slower-moving industry, it is still worth investing in because there is a lot of money to be made.
Research is getting more penetration within the brands
Sima has noticed that research is penetrating more departments, more people, and more functions within the brands, and it is enabling tools to get used on a broader scale, which is good for the industry. Research is no longer being held hostage in one group within an organization. Thoughtful, rigorous, and analytical research is still valued professionally, and research will continue to evolve.
Many of those who use DIY research tools think that anyone can be a researcher. However, what they put in shows that not everyone can be a researcher.
Doing a UK startup on American soil
Vin has enjoyed coming from the headquarters in the UK and doing a startup on American soil. There is a cultural difference between British and American people, and he has found it amusing to see how much can get lost in an English-to-English translation. Some things work in the UK market, but not in the American market, and vice versa.
To integrate their UK and American businesses, Savanta sometimes cross-pollinates. They are not always successful in doing that, however. Their goal is to make businesses roll under Savanta.
Certain parts of their UK/USA crossover, like health insurance, are challenging to make global. Although those things might appear trivial, they require a lot of work.
Hire your finance person sooner rather than later
Vin advises anyone starting a business to hire a finance person earlier than they think they need to.
The hardest part of Vin’s role
The hardest part of Vin’s role right now is finding a pipeline of deals that fits what he wants.
This podcast was originally published on Infinity Squared LLC.