Mining hidden data to make better decisions
Serendipitus thinks businesses don't look at all the right information
I don’t hear the UK government’s Global Entrepreneur Programme discussed very much.
But it gave today’s startup founder the chance to move from the US to London, to take advantage of the European tech ecosystem, which she says she prefers.
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Serendipitus wants to mine hidden data for better business decisions
After I left university, I did a stint temping at BT. My task was to navigate that enormous corporation in an attempt to solve tricky customer problems.
It was the early 2000s, and much of the company seemed to still run on fax machines, which made trying to pull together information from different departments incredibly slow and frustrating.
But even though I’d like to hope BT operates a bit more efficiently these days, the experience taught me just how much untapped knowledge there is within large companies, and how difficult it can be to put insights from one department to use in another.
Looking to solve this issue as it stands in the 2020s is Serendipitus.
“We come in and un-silo the tech and the humans, to reveal insights that already exist,” explains founder Maureen Blandford.
For example, imagine a sales leader is doing well on retention but struggling with new acquisition. Their understanding of why retention is good could be limited to NPS scores and other top-level data.
In this case, Serendipitus could pull together information from elsewhere in the company that might help them understand why the product is successful, so they can improve their outreach to prospects.
“When you've got structured insights into what other folks are doing, a sales leader can look at why customers are staying, so that they can emphasise those points with their prospects and their salespeople,” says Blandford.
“But even better, they can find out what's hot in the product, where customers are really resonating, and what marketing is seeing from the front lines and what topics are trending up or down today.”
The issue, as Blandford sees it, is that useful data is siloed in different tech stacks across a company.
A product team might have UX studies or market research, as well as data about how a product is used. Meanwhile, marketing, sales, and customer success departments will each have their own separate sets of software and data.
Even in an individual department’s tech stack, data might not be structured and shared between apps very well.
How it works
While there is plenty of other software that can bring together data from across a company, Blandford argues that this is not usually focused enough to be quickly useful for specific use cases. It can take a long time to wrangle into a form that is useful.
The Serendipitus approach is to take advantage of the expertise of the staff in each department to make sure the right data is being collected in the first place.
“The secret sauce that makes us different from all the other data ingestion tools is an understanding of what's going on upstream from the ingestion and the reporting.
“Our humans and our tech work with the humans upstream. So we're ingesting stuff that makes much more sense, so that we make sense of it very quickly, in weeks versus months or years.
The output is a dashboard of data that can provide a far more complete overview of an issue than any one department would otherwise have.
Blandford says this can help companies identify what they’re doing right and wrong. It can identify where sales and marketing should work together more, or how a product could be rethought based on customer success data, for example.
“A product leader at a fintech came to me and said the customer success team was telling them that NPS is trending downward, but she had no next-level data.
“When we ran the Serendipitus model, and mined the tech stacks, and pulled it all in and looked at it, it was clear that they had an onboarding problem and not a product problem. So they were shirking on onboarding and thus people weren't learning it and getting sticky early on. So a year later, they churned because they never really got to know the product.
“Our secret sauce is knowing deeply what's going on in the source information and how the humans aren't working together today. And that could solve a ton of problems… it's reducing friction at scale”.
The story so far
Hailing from the USA, Blandford’s career in B2B tech marketing has taken her from the States, to Dublin, London, and Amsterdam.
She says she first noticed the cross-departmental friction phenomenon when she was in her early 20s and working with travelling salespeople. She noticed they often didn’t use the official materials provided by their company’s HQ.
After working on the agency side, she shifted to working directly for tech companies as a CMO around 10 years ago. She began to notice the problem of siloed tech stacks and knowledge, which led her to write a book on the topic, Moats and Drawbridges: The Current State of B2B Cross-Functional Insight Sharing.
“In this part of my career, I've been deeply studying this, experiencing it as a CMO. I'm always talking to the market, always quizzing friends, interviewing people about their environment. So I know that this is a common challenge that hasn't been solved,” she says.
This led her to begin consultancy work to help businesses with the issue. But unable to find suitable software to support her work, she decided to build it herself.
The Serendipitus software as it stands is an MVP built on top of AirTable, which Blandford has developed with a team in Dublin. In its current form, the tech supports hands-on consultancy from Serendipitus.
The next stage, with the official version 1 of the software, will be for it to become increasingly self-service, which is of course far more scalable.
After conceiving the product in the USA, she relocated back to London to build her startup.
She says she prefers the European ecosystem to the USA, and took advantage of the UK government’s Global Entrepreneur Programme. This scheme is designed to attract startups founders from around the world to grow their businesses from the UK.
Even in this early stage, Blandford says the startup has a small and growing base of paying customers.
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