Tugce Bulut, founder, Streetbees
- What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
The extent of change in the retail sector is enormous, and presents us with an incredible opportunity to disrupt an entire industry. New methods of consumption – online, via social media, even on TV – require a completely new way of understanding consumers. Knowing ‘what’ just isn’t good enough now, businesses need to know ‘why’ – and that’s what Streetbees is built for.
- What is the biggest challenge to your business?
Finding the right people to enable us to scale quickly, while also keeping hold of our culture and focus. We’ve gone from just a handful of people in 2015 to 100 in 2018 – which is amazing, but we have to make sure the unique working environment and mentality that we’ve worked so hard to build doesn’t get lost in the rush. We’ve also hired people from all over the world – we’ve been a global intelligence platform from day one, so we need to think internationally. Brexit was a concern, as people were concerned about what it might mean. As a result, we set up an office in Lisbon, which has enabled us to retain talented European staff that we otherwise might have lost.
- With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?
Everything is a learning experience! I think we made some hires in the early days of the business for need, without checking whether they were a close cultural fit. We now have a much more robust attitude – if someone isn’t enthused in an interview by working for a start-up with a multi-faceted workforce including many different viewpoints and cultures, we’re much better at working out that they won’t be a good fit for us.
- What will consumer research look like in a decade?
That’s the big question, isn’t it? One of the biggest changes is consumers taking back ownership of their own data – with recent scandals and the introduction of GDPR having an impact too. We’re excited to be at the forefront of that revolution, instead of just keeping up.
Our users share their information as they choose and are paid fairly for it, providing us with a constant and ongoing stream of anonymised data – that’s what the Streetbees platform is all about. It’s a step change for the industry as we’re only using the data that people are happy to share with us, and turning that into information that is hugely enlightening for big brands.
Providing concise insights – rather than long drawn-out reports – is also going to be key; we are all time-poor.
- Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?
Well, the line between mobile and the rest of digital is already blurred. And it’s less to do with the devices themselves than what they give us access to. According to nearly all metrics, social media is becoming more and more important to sales – overtaking regular physical and online ads among a number of demographics. And mobile devices are the way most people interact with social media. So I’d say it’s certainly likely, at least as an indirect result.
- What FMCG / retail businesses do you admire?
I’m impressed by any major business that stays ahead of the curve. Take a giant like Unilever, for instance. It’s learned that there’s an increased demand for conscientiousness in the FMCG industry from a lot of consumers, and it’s been focusing heavily on its sustainable brands since. Now they’re growing faster than any other part of its business. There’s a reason why it is the market leader and people look up to it.
- If you hadn’t been a retailer/service-provider-to-retail what would you have liked to do?
Before founding my company, I worked as a consultant for multinationals – it’s actually why I ended up creating Streetbees. I kept running into the same problems time and again – I couldn’t find the accurate data I needed that would make a difference for my clients. I thought: “I can do better than this.” I realise looking back that I’ve always had that mentality of wanting to make things better, to solve problems. So I think that no matter what, I would have ended up starting something of my own that could fix something – no matter the industry!
- What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
What a question! It’s probably impossible to accurately score yourself and I definitely think there’s always room for personal improvement, but every day I come in and look at the team we’ve built, all working together for something we all believe in and I think: I must have done something right. That’s a great source of strength for me.
- Who would you place in the Top 25 Movers & Shakers in Retail?
I think it’ll be fascinating in the near future to see which different brands and models will thrive or fail. I love new brands that have come into an established industry and turned them upside down, like Fevertree, or some of the new direct-to-customer brands that are shaking up personal care. Watching the interaction of major brands with more agile start-ups is going to be a real opportunity for us – as one of the strengths of Streetbees is that by using us, even the biggest brand can understand new markets like a local.
This is one in an ongoing series of Q&A’s with individuals that are featured in the annual ‘Retail Insider Movers & Shakers in Retail Top 100’ report.