Breaking barriers in market research

Venkatesh Ganesh | Updated on March 23, 2013 Published on March 23, 2013

Ruchika Gupta, President, Borderless Access

Off the outer ring road in Bangalore, in Vrindavan Tech Village, is a company tucked away on the ground floor almost unnoticed.

Unlike other companies that are into software, Borderless Access is into the business of online market research. The company was founded in 2008 by Ruchika Gupta, who has had stints in JWT and 3M. She saw an opportunity in doing market research work, through the Internet and mobile phone.

The nature of market research has changed over the years. “As marketers are increasingly looking towards research to make informed decisions, they are going beyond the plain vanilla ways of collecting information and this is where we fit in,” says Gupta.

But, in a market place where giants like Nielsen and others are entrenched, how does a start-up see its chances? “We work with market research companies like Nielsen and companies directly too,” explains Gupta.

In other words, Borderless Access does sub-contracting work from market researchers and companies directly and makes money on the project that it completes. It works with companies such as Microsoft,

For clients such as Lenovo, HP and P&G, it takes up data collection work by creating a community that will provide insights for the brand concerned.

“These insights will be monitored by its 60 employees and people participating in these surveys will be given incentives in the form of mobile recharge and online shopping coupons,” said Gupta. So, can anybody participate in a Borderless Access survey?

According to Gupta, the company sends out invites every month to a database of individuals and verifies themusing the mobile phone number to ascertain the veracity of the person participating in the survey and eliminate data fraud.

The company has built a community of 1.2 million members who participate in customer surveys all over the world. In India, it reaches out to 4.5 lakh respondents.

With growth for a majority of companies coming from emerging markets, Borderless Access has placed its bet on specialising research in BRIC economies. Companies are clueless about how to reach out to the Indian consumers and this is where we see a strong opportunity, says Gupta.

The company is internally funded and a subsidiary of Cross Tab Group, which is a knowledge process outsourcing company. It has grown at an average 50 per cent over the last two years, according to Gupta. It is expected to close this fiscal with revenues in the range of Rs 23-25 crore.

Interestingly, the company says that 80 per cent of its business is coming from its top 20 clients and that in a way shows headroom for growth going forward.

After building panel expertise in India, Borderless Access has added Brazil, Russia, China, Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, Indonesia and Taiwan markets to its list.

“This experience gives us a unique understanding of local sentiments, cultural diversities and disposition towards market research in emerging markets,” says Gupta.

Another area which often puts off a multinational to do research in an emerging geography is the feasibility and costs involved in conducting surveys. For this, Borderless Access has come up with a mobile app called InstaBid, through which market researchers can access sample feasibility and cost information across a number of hard-to-reach markets.

In a business that has a low-entry barrier, how does the company plan to stay ahead? “While the business has a low-entry barrier, quality of information, quality of respondents and sustaining this quality over a period of time are what puts them ahead of others,” says Gupta. Gupta is positive on the 2013-14 fiscal and adds that the company plans to grow its revenues by 70 per cent over the FY13. -

Published on March 23, 2013
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