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Acquisition by PureSpectrum

Market research technology company PureSpectrum completed the acquisition of Instant Insights, a provider of market analytics being spun out of Upwave, less than two weeks after it landed $17 million during its Series B fundraising last month. The acquired entity, now known as the PureSpectrum Insights platform, alongside the PureSpectrum Marketplace, makes the company a complete end-to-end market research and insights platform.“This acquisition was going to happen with or without the Series B. And a lot of people probably think that one happened to make the other, but the founder of the business line that we acquired I’ve known for years – we’ve been partners with them,” Chief Executive Michael McCrary said in an interview. “They were using our platform to help acquire respondents for customers of theirs for this platform. So it was a real natural connection; we could actually finish automating it and make it seamless.”The Westlake Village market data company, founded in 2015, has scaled dramatically since its inception, initially providing data sets to market researchers through the PureSpectrum Marketplace. Market research companies and other businesses with an interest in curated data sets can purchase validated survey data through the marketplace, narrowing respondent criteria with demographic filters to suit their needs. The Insights expansion now offers clients the ability to fully conduct their own surveys, as well as analyze the resulting data sets to track consumer behavior in 50 countries. The Insights service offers daily updated survey results and easy-to-use analytics, with pricing beginning at $1,000 per survey.“The acquisition of this Insights platform is just the beginning for us,” Mark Menig, PureSpectrum’s chief product officer, said in the company’s acquisition announcement on May 3. “We are committed to extending the platform and creating a seamless research experience from project inception to final reporting.” The company originally rented space out of work share offices at California Lutheran University’s Hub101, an incubator for startup businesses. It had grown to employ more than 100 people before the acquisition. Upwave Instant Insights’ five full time employees will stay on to serve PureSpectrum’s Insights page as part of the acquisition.The Series B funding round, announced near the end of April, was led by Arthur Ventures, a Minneapolis-based equity firm which leads B2B software investments outside of Silicon Valley. In conjunction with the funding, Patrick Meenan, general partner at Arthur Ventures, will join PureSpectrum’s board.Cal Lutheran incubatorMcCrary is one of two entrepreneurs-in-residence at Cal Lutheran, conducting community outreach and guest speaking for students at the university. While he didn’t attend the school, his connection to its entrepreneurial supporters helped build PureSpectrum in its early years.  “I couldn’t be prouder of Michael and PureSpectrum. It’s the best example of what happens in a startup community that takes a long-term view and that does its best to do whatever its founders need,” Mike Panesis, executive director of the university’s Steven Dorfman Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship said. He watched PureSpectrum grow from a single founder business to the company it is today. “I don’t know anyone who has grown as deliberately as PureSpectrum or who has been as careful about raising outside funding as Michael.”McCrary initially rented co-working and office space from Hub101 as he was launching PureSpectrum, not long after Hub101 initially opened its doors. The two organizations grew together, as PureSpectrum grew, hiring some Hub101 collaborators and, later, students from Cal Lutheran, Panesis said. When the time came to move out and expand, PureSpectrum rented working space in the same building, where it maintains its offices.McCrary’s continued collaboration with the university through Hub101 and his entrepreneurial residency isn’t limited to his guest speaking engagements or hiring alumni. Last year he donated $10,000 to Hub101, in thanks for the support PureSpectrum received. McCrary’s support of startup businesses has set him apart in survey industry, according to his clients.“We went through a pretty extensive process of talking to different potential partners and then picking them, by and large, because they were ready and they were willing to meet us where we were in the development process,” Randall Wahl, president of M/A/R/C Research, said of his company’s three-year partnership with PureSpectrum. “They kind of understood where we were as far as understanding our platform, what our needs were. And we kind of built from there, versus having a product set that they already had, and trying to get us to fit to that.”As the practice of data harvesting, analytics and sales grew exponentially during the pandemic, the global market for big data, estimated at $70.5 billion in 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of $243 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 19.4 percent, according to analysis by Research and Markets. While some regulations to protect consumer privacy have been put in place, startups such as PureSpectrum are finding ways to monitor consumer behavior and navigating the largely uncharted territory of data collection and automated market research.

“We are in the first inning of customer data and digital privacy. Companies must stay on top of these new laws and regulations. This is especially important for a company that specializes in audience building and data sampling and selling,” John Pestana, chief executive of ObservePoint and board member of the Digital Analytics Association, a trade group for data companies, said of the data marketplace. “We live in a world where data is becoming ever more prevalent and used for personalization. As a member of the Digital Analytics Association Board and the CEO of a data governance company, I believe we need to continue pressing forward in setting an example of being transparent and allowing users to control their information.”For now, PureSpectrum is focused on calculated growth as the company acclimates to its new analytic offerings with the Insight acquisition.“We just see a massive opportunity ahead of us,” McCrary said.

Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert
Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert
Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert is a Los Angeles-based reporter covering retail, hospitality and philanthropy for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. In addition to her current beat, she is particularly interested in criminal justice topics, health and science stories and investigative journalism. She received her AA in Humanities from Moorpark College in 2016, her BA in Communication from Cal Lutheran University in 2019 and followed it up with a MA in Specialized Journalism from USC in the summer of 2020. Through her work, Katherine aspires to help strengthen the fragile trust between members of the media and the public.
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