Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Tim Lawton, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of SightX.
Contact Tim Online:
Tim Lawton, SightX, solid company. This firm has been… has the best actually UX for analytics that I have seen. It is absolutely beautiful, and they have created a lot of shortcuts in statistics that let you get to key insights. It’s almost like Big Data for Dummies, and I don’t want to take away from the power behind the tool. I spent a lot of time with Tim and his co-founder, talking about the statistical side. I’m not a statistician – nor am I claiming to be – but, having said that, having worked in this space for so long, you get inundated with these types of requests. And they have created some really cool technology. If you’re in the insights space, you absolutely should check out because it is impressive tech. Enjoy.
My guest today on the Happy Market Research Podcast is Tim Lawton, founder, I think.
Yes, co-founder of SightX.
I got to spend a lot of time with your counterpart last night before dinner. Very intrigued with the story. You guys had spent almost two years in stealth mode right before you came up. So, maybe, you could talk to us a little bit about why you guys started SightX, what you saw as the market opportunity, the white space, and the pain point. And then walk us through that sort of journey of going dormant for the R&D phase.
Sure. So, the intriguing part of the story is certainly on Naira’s side. A lot of what we’re doing is her background in research. But when we started initially the onset was solving for a broader problem in the general research process of everything from the data collection to analyzing the data. At the end of the day, the idea was to automate a lot of those processes for (1) for researchers but, more importantly and equally important, is for non-technical people. So that there’s a level of analysis that’s possible, especially when you talk about market research or any sort of end-user engagement. So much information nowadays can and is collected that a lot of times what’s valuable and insightful there (to use a key word that everybody is familiar with) is not always easy to do because it takes a lot of time and the level of expertise. So we set out to democratize that expertise, for lack of a better description, for users and researchers of all types and skill levels, everyone to get to that end state of the data that’s been cleaned, coded, organized, and analyzed so that our clients and users can do what they were presumably hired to do: which is to think creatively, strategically about their brand, their company, their organization but a lot of that time spent as we see as inefficient in that process. So SightX was designed to add efficiencies and augment teams and help teams get to that end state faster by bringing them from the data collection to the analysis and reporting all in one platform.
It’s like from my vantage point… I have a weak background in statistics…
…more of a practitioner, actor versus like a… but you know I understand and all that kind of stuff. So, I’ve done a fair amount of regression modeling and whatever in my early career. What I really like about the value prop is statistics can be hard and daunting, but what you guys do is take all that out. But what you leave behind is the actual connection to the data.
So, it’s like: “These are the five things that are driving customer behavior or purchase intent.” And you don’t care about the necessarily. Well, you might care about it, but you guys are processing all that data and then displaying it in a way that is accessible to somebody who is a non-statistician.
Right, and that’s, I think, the valuable and important point is that whether you’re a statistician or not, I think the value prop still remains the same because if you understand it, you have a background in statistics, that’s great. You can do the work, which is great and good for you and your team, but it still takes time. And it still takes that process of setting up the data, organizing the data in such a way so that you can run all that analysis on it. And again, if you’re still doing it yourself, it is a time-consuming process. Equally on the other side, if you’re not trained and have a strong background in statistics, it’s going to take you even more time if you even are able to get to that step. So to be able to get everybody, whether you’re a trained statistician or not through that process seamlessly to give you that, as you said, the end state of that processing and analysis is, that’s the important side.
So, you hired a good friend of mine, Daryl McCall.
Congratulations on that smart move.
Yes, every day it’s become more and more apparent how smart it was. So, it’s just great.
It’s so neat to have him in charge. And I don’t know actually exactly where he fits in the organizational…but to have somebody who’s been through the startup phase to successful exit, to successful entry into a larger organization, understands high-performance culture: those are rare people. And the other thing that’s congratulations on is having a not just competent but highly engaging co-founder. Really interested in how you guys came together and then… I mean that’s… So, one of the things… I coach a number of different startups. And one of the things that’s always a pain point for early stage is that co-founder relationship. Can you talk about how you guys met?
We… I know it’s true, and I have a lot of friends who have started companies. And I’ve seen from the outside different dynamics in companies and their founding stories. So I count myself one of the lucky ones. So, Naira and I, long story short, met through friends of friends at a fund raising in New York City. Actually, realized that we’re both mountain climbers at the time; so struck up a friendship around those kinds of common, shared interests; had actually climbed together before starting SightX or Frontier 7, formerly known as Frontier 7, when we first started. And then through those activities and kind of just shared interests and friendships, started talking about, like most people do, problems or ideas they had, things they wanted to solve for, and then that led to, “Maybe, we should put this on paper. We should start thinking about this a little more deeply.” And started looking at the market opportunity. And that’s how we continued to evolve. But I think why we work well together is because we’re so different. One: we don’t come for market research backgrounds, either of us. And two: we come from completely different backgrounds ourselves. She in more of an academic setting and working part-time in consulting; myself in the military and then finance. So, approaching a problem from two completely different angles from a clean slate, I’ll say, I think has served us well. So, those two years you mentioned where we were operating mostly in stealth mode was a lot of conversations, interactions with potential clients within market research but also in other industries and fields. We had an early platform; we had non-profits using it; we had a big company for HR purposes, so really evaluating a lot a different applications for it, which is one of the great things to realize that there’s a lot of applications for what we’re doing but targeting it towards a use case that was (1) more appealing to us. But a bigger commercial opportunity, more diverse set of use cases for us was more appealing. By taking those different backgrounds and different skill sets I think has served us well ‘cause we both enjoy doing different things, which is nice.
And then Daryl was really a serendipitous introduction, but I think, to your point, was one of the biggest value-adds in that he understands early stage culture in this phase of what we’re going through, which is… I don’t know how you can say enough about how important that is. To have gone through and understand this phase, to help us get through these next… kind of the future where we’re trying to go. And not only that, with his many years of experience in the space and knowledge about the industry and clients and what’s important, what’s needed and the values that we’re trying to add on and bring has been a huge benefit to us.
That’s awesome. So, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?
Well, this will air probably a couple of weeks later, but there’ll be another show. So, Tim, thank you so much. SightX is the name of the company. He told you how to get in contact with him. Of course, his information will be in show notes. So, feel free to check that out as well as the transcripts of our conversation. As always, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to screenshot this, share it on social media. If you would please take 60 seconds and rate this show on the podcast platform of your choice, it would help a million people like you – well, at least five.
Six. No, I’m six.
Six, that’s right. Find this content and increase our overall value. Really appreciate it. Have a great rest of your day.
Thanks so much. Appreciate it.