In a year within its launch, global market and customer insights company Maru Group, acquired three portfolio companies and has over 400 employees working across the US, Canada and the UK. CEO Ged Parton speaks to GrowthBusiness on this rapid growth and what lies ahead for the company.
What does your business do?
Maru Group is a global market and customer insights company which was founded in 2016. Since then we have acquired three portfolio companies; Maru/Usurv, Maru/edr and Maru/Matchbox. These brands are leading the way in the provision of research, insight and advisory services powered by cutting-edge technology and innovation.
As a Group, we provide our clients with targeted, relevant insights at speed enabling them to adapt their corporate strategy, then scale and innovate quickly to stay ahead of the competition. Our market-leading portfolio of companies deliver this through constant investment in cutting-edge technologies that continually test the boundaries and capabilities of the traditional research and insights industry.
We are quickly emerging as an exciting challenger brand, disrupting the traditional market research and insights industry.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
About 10 years ago, it was made very clear to me by a client that as a result of new technologies, companies outside of the market research industry were independently analysing and delivering data in real time; in simple terms, other sectors were now doing our job faster and better. It was clear that we needed to invest in new technologies, whilst still effectively utilising the expertise of our advisory teams.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Until recently, the market research industry had been relatively untouched by external technological developments and many firms were finding themselves unable to respond to an increasing expectation from clients for insights delivered at speed. We could therefore see a clear gap in the market for companies with the ability to integrate new and advanced technologies into their systems, which could rapidly aggregate and analyse data, and provide clients with meaningful insights in real-time.
How did you raise funding, and why?
Having drawn up a business plan that drew on deep industry experience and sought to disrupt the traditional market research sector, it was clear that we were going to need external investment if we were to realise our vision. We met with 10 highly impressive small-mid size private equity investors and Primary Capital stood out immediately as the right investor for us. Primary had the unique combination of the right team with the right experience and expertise that would enable us to thrive as a company and they have been a brilliant partner since day one.
Describe your business model in brief.
We firmly believe that disaggregation is a virtue. The Group acts as a platform, enabling our portfolio of companies to flourish, retaining their own individual cultures and identities, but united by a common belief in the value of technology-led research and insights.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
The acquisition of what is now Maru/edr was a pivotal moment in the Group’s history and really set us on an upwards trajectory. As the first acquisition, it was important that we chose the right company, with the right people, with the right vision, and this concise but highly focused criteria has been applied to each of the acquisitions which have since followed.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Once you have your vision, stick to it with dogged determination.
Remember that you are playing a team game; find and nurture those people who share your vision and want to help you to achieve it.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time, I see myself still very much at the heart of what is now a thriving and dynamic business full of talented employees, who are passionate about what they do. For me it is not a question of the number of acquisitions we undertake, it is the quality of the companies and people we invest in. If we continue to make smart and logical acquisitions, I have no doubt that in five years’ time Maru Group will be a leading player in the market.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
Like most entrepreneurs, I have always had the entrepreneurial ‘bug’; and so, I’m sure that if I wasn’t already an entrepreneur, I would be looking for ways to somehow bring my business ideas to life…
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
Find something you love doing and do it well.