On 15th March 2018, Co-Founder and CEO of ClockWork Jamie Rood spoke at 22 on Sloane’s StartUp Huddles to present on the topic ‘Using Data to Build a Consumer Centric Business Strategy’. The speech was transcribed and can be read below:

When I was asked by Alesimo to deliver a speech on data, I immediately thought of a number of ways I could go about it. In total, it has probably taken about 390 minutes, 280mg of caffeine, 408 pieces of popcorn, 450mg of data, and 86, 400 seconds of sleep to prepare.

I have always been data centric, collecting and analysing sports stats from a young age, and eventually applying this to my business strategy. In true millennial fashion, I typed today’s topic into google and it yielded 1 million, 200, 000 results. With regards to using data to create a consumer centric business strategy, a lot of the results revolved around big players in the corporate world throwing around buzz phrases like ‘empower the front line’ and discussing how to allocate millions of dollars to their research teams. But, as much as some of us would like to, start ups don’t have the resources to find our way into the ‘stalker’ category when it comes to analysing our consumers. Therefore, I have decided to celebrate the low resource start up in this speech and discuss a few ‘cheat’ ways of how we can use data to shape our strategy and make informed product decisions.

I’ll start by telling you a little bit about my journey, and how in August 2016, data became a huge part of my life. It’s normally in the car, in the shower, or in the bar that an idea for a start up comes to you. In my case it was the former, where I was driving past builders warehouse and saw dozens of unemployed, desperate tradesmen queuing up to be swooped up by the next bakkie, offering their services so they could feed their families that evening. I wondered whether technology could connect the employers with the jobseekers, and whether we could build a trusted, online community of workers who were local, vetted and reliable. ClockWork may have been born that day, but in it’s infancy, it still had, and has, a lot to learn.

Maybe in our mind a platform that connects the two parties would be innovative and disruptive. However, it wasn’t a big enough problem for an employer. They had to go to builders’ warehouse to buy their resources for the day anyhow, so why not simply connect personally with those people looking for work? It wasn’t before we attended a month-long incubator run by MIT in partnership with global start up labs, before we first realised the power of customer data in making informed decisions.

The programme encouraged us to ‘get out of the building’ and speak to real life customers about the problems they faced. We realised connecting with jobseekers wasn’t the problem but connecting with the right jobseeker was. Employers wanted a measurable way of differentiating between individuals, something which was a valid, quantifiable indicator of how capable someone was. If you look at a ClockWorker’s profile today, you’ll see a numerical dashboard of key on the job statistics such as jobs completed, hours tracked, previous ratings, and experience points, which is built from a weighted equation of all the variables together. This allows us to match an employer’s job requirements to a jobseeker that suits their exact needs, improving the chances of customer satisfaction. All clichés aside, think of our platform as a dating site for blue collar workers: now think of your worst match in the whole world – you probably wouldn’t want to date them … just like employers don’t want to be badly matched with a jobseeker.

This leads me to two important lessons regarding the use of data to build a customer centric business strategy. Firstly, we can’t collect data from our desk. As comfortable as those bean bags are at 2pm in the afternoon, we have to get out of the building and speak to customers. Secondly, we don’t need a colossal amount of data to make informed decisions, but we just need quality data from the right customers. We can identify trends from data which allow us to make decisions, but we mustn’t treat our customer like a cog in a wheel. Rather, identify your customer persona; someone who epitomises your target audience, and find a small pool of them, making sure you question them in detail. This way, you’ll get real world insights into their problems, instead of biased, rushed decisions from unqualified customers.

Our data centric journey at ClockWork was only at the beginning. The next way we used data to develop a strategy centred around our customer was during the building of our jobseeker app. A lot of the inspiration behind this came from UCT’s Venture incubation programme, a three month accelerator which we were fortunate enough to be a part of towards the end of 2017. We ran a google venture design sprint – a five day process for answering critical business questions by collecting customer data. This involved developing of set of problems we felt our customers faced, solving them with prototypes and testing them with real life customers. Over 130 responses later, we were able to make informed decisions about the product we wanted to build.

If you haven’t before, I would highly recommend running a design sprint for your business. It is a short, lean way of validating your assumptions, and avoiding building something that you figure out won’t work a few months later. When building a product, it’s paramount that you validate, validate and validate some more. The only way we can do this effectively is through real life, consumer centric data.

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of us as start-ups fear we don’t have the time, resources or money to collect extensive data and conduct lengthy research about what to build. I would say two things to that. Firstly, sometimes more is less. A lengthy qualitative interview with a customer who fully represents your audience is far better than 10 survey responses from unqualified customers. Secondly, your customer is everything. Never build something you think your customer will use, build something you know they will use, validated from hard data. At ClockWork, our slogan is ‘the job that works for you’. But in house, I always tell my team, think of it as ‘the job that works for them’.

Lastly, I want emphasise the power of some of the free software that have helped us collect data easily. You can do so much with tools like

google forms – great for collecting feedback from customers, and you can now do so much like automated emails and sms’ upon receipt.

Protyping tools like lucidchart and invision – these days you don’t have to be a designer to create a great prototype – because there is so much out there on the internet. Remember, if you don’t know how to do something – youtube it.

Mailchimp  – automated email software that you can send out to customers to gain feedback, ask insights and view all the stats on a dashboard.

Zapier – allows you to build robots and automates workflows together – for example, if you get a new twitter follower – you could automatically send a welcome mail with a link to form to fill out.

Unsplash – fantastic free stock photos for building material and prototypes – they still need to improve their African portfolio but its worth a look.

Microsoft excel – use excel to analyse feedback an build models which will help you make key product decisions

and you don’t have to pay a cent. Once again, our data is clean when we keep it lean.

To finish off, not many people would say stats is sexy. However, any decision without data means that your guess is as good as mine. So, even if you’re the CEO, I encourage you, from time to time, to play the role of CCEO, thats’ Chief Customer Experience Officer’. It might just help you build something incredible.