ICYMI- WiRe, Investing In Research | Ep. 177

Welcome to the Data Gurus podcast!

Sima has curated several illuminating and informative past Data Gurus episodes for you to enjoy in the last weeks of August. She will be back again in September with fresh content, new guests, and a few surprises!

Today’s episode is a replay of episode 147, in which Sima shared Part 1 of Investing in Research, a panel discussion about agencies from the WiRe (Women in Research) Conference that took place last year.

The discussion is hosted by Nikki Lavoie, and experts Sima Vasa, Sherry Fox, and Elaine Riddel join her to talk about a prominent myth circulating in the insights industry. According to that myth, only tech and SaaS-based companies receive investment funding.

In this discussion, the panel of experts clarifies why that myth is false and explains how service-based companies can start accessing investment funding.

The experts 

Sherry Fox is a career Global Insights Strategist focused on health care. She is well-versed in strategic brand development and regulatory environments. Sherry is an industry expert and futuristic thinker who can facilitate collaborations leading to the growth and acquisition of service companies. She has also founded future health strategies to leverage the intersection of data, insights, and technology.

Sima Vasa is a multi-faceted business leader in the market research and analytics space with a broad range of expertise from P&L management, operations, business development, marketing, entrepreneurship, and investment banking. Currently, Sima focuses on advising clients on overall business strategy, valuation of strategic options, and execution of investment banking mandates through Oberon Securities, a middle-market-focused investment banking firm.

Elaine Riddel is a growth activist who believes that breakthrough potential exists in every company. She unlocks potential by anticipating market changes that will influence client priorities and then building organizational confidence to deliver new value. As A CEO, she transformed mature, stagnant, global insights firms into scalable market leaders that consistently out-performed the market over fifteen years. Her playbook is the foundation for her growth advisories, serving founders, CEOs, and PE firms. Elaine is currently an MD with Oaklins Da Silva and Phillips, a leading investment bank for marketing and media services.

Why is there the myth that service-based companies cannot get funding?

Sima believes that service-based companies can get investment capital if they want it. It is all about the valuation of a service-based company, compared with a more Saas or tech-enabled company. Investors want to invest in good, financially sound companies that provide their clients with a strong value and serve their markets well. So the question is really around the value of the company.

Elaine thinks that everything has its time. Automating much of the back office and the DIY will result in better, faster, and cheaper kinds of foundational services. We are moving into a time where more people with more advanced decision-making capabilities are needed to advise clients.

Sherry believes that even with the arrival of big data and AI being used more in the insights industry, people are still necessary to deliver the insights to the pointer lane because you cannot rely on the data to explain why something is true. That is why service-based companies are needed more than ever right now to interpret the data.

Having insights translated into action

Elaine thinks that some service-based companies will stand out in terms of their areas of expertise because clients are looking for the expertise to translate insights into action with confidence in real-time.


Service-based companies should look for opportunities to syndicate or create multi-client services- on a subscription basis.

Reducing investor risk

Service-based companies need to reassure their investors that enough is being done to reduce the risk.

Becoming trusted advisors

Market research agencies should position themselves as strategic partners and collaborators with their clients to become their trusted advisors.


Actionability is the key to creating value for service-based companies.


Having a good reputation is a vital piece for companies looking for investors.


Getting out there, being visible, and getting known is vital for winning business and finding investors.

A plan

Having a plan for the future demonstrates your value to potential investors.


Finding investors becomes easier for companies that get known for their collaborative style.

What CEOs and executives should consider before seeking investor funding

Be aligned with your current partners and know why you are seeking investors. Consider why now is a good time to do it. Also, understand that there will be a trade-off with your new investor partners. Make sure they align with your core values.

Driving growth

If you have a strong brand coupled with a great team and a vision you can use investment capital to build your business through inorganic growth.

When you are ready for investment

When you decide to look for investment, be ready to exchange business equity for capital to invest in your business. The first step is to meet with a professional advisor to help you think things through and get ready to go to market.

Take time 

It is worth taking the time to go through a proper process and prepare. That will help you gain confidence, allow you to showcase your business in the best light, and run a competitive process so that you can get the best options.

The best way to use funding capital

Use your capital on innovation solutions, marketing, and sales, to drive your business forward and grow it.

Enhancing customer experiences

Bringing data, insights, and technology together will help in creating an enhanced customer experience. That will attract investment in your company.

Think with the client in mind

Think with the client in mind. Consider the gaps you can see in the marketplace, do some research on your client base and the client community at large, and then find ways to solve their needs.



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Connect with Elaine Riddel at Oaklins da Silva, and Phillips