"The online market research business is worth $25 billion in US. The research work includes identifying the company's problem, preparing the questionnaire, data collection, analyse the data, presentation to the company, and final recommendation. Our company provides
end-to-end services and also work on specific processes outsourced by global market research agencies,"says Kedar Sohoni, co-founder and director of the company.
Cross-tab was founded by Praveen Gupta and Kedar Sohoni , IIM graduates and Ruchika Gupta from BITS Pilani, at the height of dotcom bust in July 2000. Wasn't it hara-kiri? Kedar laughs, "We had done our home-work. Praveen had left his father's pharmaceutical business to start his own venture and I had put in 4 years at Nestle. We mulled over various options and realised that there were lot of loopholes in the way market research was conducted in India,' says Kedar. "Interviewer bias is always there; geographical reach is limited; people don't have time to respond immediately."
They prepared their business plan for an online market research company and approached fund houses for seed capital. ICICI venture agreed to invest Rs1 crore and in July 2000, they started cross-tab from a small office space in Bangalore.
"The biggest challenge was to create an access panel of respondents of varying age, gender, occupation, income, demography etc. We spent first nine months to create a panel of 25,000 online respondents," says Kedar. They got their first client, ICICI Bank credit cards, in April 2001 and soon followed it with Travelgini, Rediff etc.
The turning point came in the end of 2001 when they got MSN as their client."It exposed us to the network of top global marketing agencies, who were also working for MSN. Soon, we started getting lot of research work outsourced from these agencies," says Kedar. Today a team of 60 people sitting in cross-tab office in Bangalore work exclusively for Microsoft.
What makes them so successful?
Kedar explains: "We have developed software, which creates a seamless intelligent interface for respondents. We have a network of more than 100,000 active respondents with a right mix of age, income, occupation, gender across the country. Online platform gives ample time to a respondent and ensures that he can fill the questionnaire in his own leisure time. We can also pick and choose desired sample for a company to test-market its product and program a questionnaire online."
No wonder, company has been featured in Deloitte's top-50 emerging technology companies of India for the last two years and ranks among 500 fastest growing companies in Asia-pacific region.
cross-tab has more than 300 employees and has offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, Seattle, and Phoenix.