Welcome to the SampleCon 2021 Highlights Series. Recorded live in Pasadena, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors, speakers and attendees at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Patrick Comer, Founder and CEO of Lucid.
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Jamin Brazil: Hey, everybody, I have with me a special guest – Patrick Comer – Who has been a dear friend of mine since I started in the industry – Well, not technically in 1996, but right around 2000 working at OTX. And we’ve sort of been – I would say – Brothers growing up in –
Patrick Comer: Brothers in arms since the beginning.
Jamin Brazil: In arms, that’s right. Yeah, no kidding. I remember when you started Lucid Fulcrum, I think -? Is that right?
Patrick Comer: It was Federated Sample. Because I’m really good at branding.
Jamin Brazil: Federated, Federated. That’s right. Federated Sample. Lucid certainly nailed it.
Patrick Comer: Yeah, much better.
Jamin Brazil: Much better. And also, the godfather of SampleCon, where we are blessed to be today. Welcome to the show, sir.
Patrick Comer: I’m super thrilled to be here. I’ve never done a podcast in front of everyone else. Slightly awkward. You can hear all the background noise of how awesome things are going.
Jamin Brazil: It is a packed house.
Patrick Comer: Yes, it is.
Jamin Brazil: A lot of energy. I’ve done quite a few interviews so far. Everybody is so thankful that we have the opportunity to be able to get together. Seriously, thank you for starting this.
Patrick Comer: Absolutely. It’s wild to see it so energetic and passionate after you’re out of the situation. I remember telling Rachel early on that we’ll know SampleCon is successful when I’m no longer involved. And to see such a strong board, to see such strong and passionate sponsors, and to really see the entire industry all together here is worth that risk. Because you can imagine how they get you. Is that really the right choice? Are you supposed to let go? Are you supposed to let everyone else run the baby? The desire was it would be a neutral ground. Territory for all. That we could have a real conversation. Sometimes you have to realize the only way to make that happen is to get out. What is also incredible is Rachel and the board have taken it to a level that we never would have if it was just Lucid. I didn’t understand that it would expand far greater than I would have imagined by letting it go.
Jamin Brazil: It’s been three years that you haven’t run it, but there has only been two sessions, or two instances, you haven’t. What is it like for you attending and not being in charge of it?
Patrick Comer: Oh, so much better. So much less stress to not actually – It’s much better to be the attendee than to run it. Just ask anybody who has run a conference before. You have to let – Or I have to let the agenda – The primary reasons that we’re here be in everyone else’s hands. It’s no longer my story, or the things that I think are important are the things that are important. Literally, it’s us, not just what I’m coming up with.
Jamin Brazil: SampleCon is this – There is not another space inside the market research space that is as competitive as SampleCon.
Patrick Comer: Oh, it’s super competitive.
Jamin Brazil: Or the sample providers. You could even – Look at all the – The Inside Association, or Greenbook – The technology platforms, or the full-service agencies, they’re all very competitive. But they’re not at the same level as Sample. And that’s because in a lot of ways, Sample has been framed – And I believe incorrectly so – As a commodity inside it. But we’re talking about humans that are completing research. This is like the raw materials that go into what it is we do. Are you seeing a change in culture of more collaboration?
Patrick Comer: What I’m seeing is an acknowledgement that the collaboration needs to evolve. We always used to say in the spirit of SampleCon – Which is, you get the competitors and partners, because as we all know, everyone is buying and selling from each other anyway. As much as we’re competitors, we’re also partners. So, giving us a place to have that conversation, and to do the deals, as well – To bring people up to speed – With the evolution going on collaboration now is that the industry has to now do certain things in order for us to move the ball forward. And what I mean by that is, there is a big conversation around standards that some of the things that are holding us back are the fact that we don’t have common libraries for profiling, as an example.
Jamin Brazil: Right. Like gender.
Patrick Comer: Everything from gender – Everything else. Now, people are starting to say we need to actually, as a group, go through that process. Which is a super unsexy, boring process called standards making. It’s one of those things that can accelerate growth. As programmatic become the norm and not the exception, those things that will trigger more growth are starting to become forefront in peoples’ minds, and they require a different level of coordination and collaboration than we’ve needed in the past. Because in the past, we needed to create the space to have the conversation. And now we need to create the space for the actual collaboration to move the ball forward.
Jamin Brazil: To execute it. That’s right.
Patrick Comer: That’s right.
Jamin Brazil: Triple S did that in some ways with them creating the market research version of XML, which is now an outmoded framework with JSON and others. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s ridiculous we have to ask the same participant their specifics – Their demographic questions –
Patrick Comer: Over and over again.
Jamin Brazil: That we knew at the beginning, right? That we knew at the beginning. You and I talked about this – I don’t know if you remember – Literally a couple of years ago –
Patrick Comer: Oh, this has been a passion play of mine for a while, because I have seen it hold us back. But I think the industry dynamics are such that the by-side of the equation those who create and manage surveys are starting to have to think about how to make them more efficient. How to remove friction, how to make them shorter, how to make a better user experience. Asking your respondent questions again is a bad user experience; adds time and adds friction. Those companies that are willing to accept that change are going to see more sample, better data quality, the rest. Those who refuse and keep asking the same questions over again are starting to see challenges.
Jamin Brazil: What percentage approximately of sample completes do you think are happening on exchanges?
Patrick Comer: I would say probably in the US somewhere around 25% of those.
Jamin Brazil: Could we focus on the US? I would have thought it would be hire. I thought it would have been 50%.
Patrick Comer: Completes are – As you know, when you talk about framing the industry, what is the TAM? How big is it? It depends on what you mean by a complete.
Jamin Brazil: That’s fair. I meant by third-party sample.
Patrick Comer: I’d still say maybe – If we were just talking about bought and sold sample in the US, maybe up to 40%? The reality is, there is a lot of data collection that is still not on the exchanges, as an example. A lot of the B to B’s are an exchange. The healthcare side is now on the exchanges. There are other players like how much of the qualitative goes to the exchanges?
Jamin Brazil: None.
Patrick Comer: Literally, there are huge sections of the data collection process that are not on market places because they don’t yet support the specific needs. We went consumer first because it was the largest volume, and it was, from our standpoint, the simplest to execute to get the supply and demand going. There is an on-going conversation about adding the other elements, but I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface on all the work just on the consumer side.
Jamin Brazil: 100%. Smart to stay focused.
Patrick Comer: It’s hard to stay focused. There are a lot of shiny objects out there.
Jamin Brazil: Yeah, that’s right. Absolutely. We know – One of the things we’ve learned from Jeff Bezos is that you need to nail what you got – Books – And then you expand.
Patrick Comer: Right. And I think you will see a lot more of the volume happening on exchanges, but at the same time, there is a huge amount of volume happening directly with suppliers; directly with buyers as everyone experiments. Especially in this dynamic of a supply constraint. Everyone is testing everything. For example, we’ve seen our fastest growth of users ever right now.
Jamin Brazil: Really?
Patrick Comer: Among existing and new customers. What is driving that? Yes, the amazing training and support by customer success at Lucid. But also, everyone is testing everything because everyone needs more supply. So, they test all the DIY platforms. They call everyone. If you don’t have enough sample, you’ve got to figure it out, because you can’t make revenue if you’re not delivering new product.
Jamin Brazil: Wow, super interesting. Interesting times. I appreciate you coming and talking with me on the show today. You have a podcast?
Patrick Comer: I do have a podcast. And what is amazing having a podcast – Which we call Through Your Looking Glass – Is that every now and then, the best possible guest will show up. And today, we were just – I could not believe that Mr. Jamin Brazil himself graced us with his illustrious presence.
Jamin Brazil: It’s such an honor. Give me a break.
Patrick Comer: But we do videos.
Jamin Brazil: You do. You vlog it.
Patrick Comer: If you were to watch this podcast, and actually see him in a jacket – Which is a sight to see in of itself.
Jamin Brazil: It’s very fancy. Listen, what I’d like to do – And we can cut this out of the podcast if you think it’s a bad idea – But what I’d like to do is take one of your episodes, and put them on Happy. The whole episode. That way, the listeners can get a flavor of what it is.
Patrick Comer: I think that would be great. I’ll tell Mindy. He loves showing off his podcast they do with us. The reason – Kind of facetious, but it was a special moment – There was a lull between pandemic rises where, in November, Mindy said yes to fly out to New Orleans and do this podcast live in our offices. It was a special relationship/friendship moment, and it was in the height of a lot of craziness, and I say that’s a special podcast for me because of the – How poignant it was for both Mindy and I and a lot of people who were able to watch it.
Jamin Brazil: That would be great. Patrick, thanks for joining me.
Patrick Comer: all right, Jamin. Next time.