Jon and Roy’s big adventure

Jon Walton and Roy Barker from Spike Insight have developed a whole ecosystem of different products. They’ve pivoted from a consultancy business where they did manual data analysis for their travel company clients to a fully productised company with most clients on a subscription model.

There’s tons to learn from the Spike Insight product ecosystem – let’s dig in.

Spike Insight learning

Jon and Roy talk here about some of the pitfalls of making products, including having too many ideas and the temptation to get carried away with the possibilities of the technology you’re using and making everything much more complicated than it needs to be.

Repeatability, systemization, automation, we needed to get more of that mindset ourselves. - Roy Barker

What I learned from Spike Insight

I’ve learned tons from Jon and Roy at Spike Insight. Here are a few elements I’ve distilled out:

  • Data-driven products that go deep and uncover trends and true business intelligence in the data are worth a lot of money. The return on investment that Spike Insight give its clients is phenomenal.
  • Going deep into a niche, in this case, high-end SME travel agencies, allows you to develop an enormous expertise
  • When you’re developing data products, having a lot of experience and business sense in a niche industry means making products that are truly useful to the client. I’m not sure anyone else could have developed the products in the Spike Insight ecosystem, because all of the products are based on Jon and Roy’s expertise
  • Setting out to make at least some of your products subscription-based helps you become “sticky” to your clients, which means your business can be much more profitable. This was a clear factor in defining Jon and Roy’s product ecosystem right from the start.

Spike Insight – Transcript

Julia Chanteray
Let’s have a look at Spike insight. They’ve been through this process of productising. What can we learn from that? Here’s spikes website. You see that they’ve got some nice clients and well-known people, and this is their product ecosystem. When John and Roy from spike first came to me, they had a list of 13 or 14 different products that they could make. They were up for productising, but they had way too many ideas. This is what we ended up with, four really clear products.

This one is a productised service where they go in and look at the client’s data. This one is a repeatable productised service, where they use machine learning and run regular reports. This is the one that you’ll see John talk about, the NPS. But it’s not NPS as you might see it, if you’re familiar with Net Promoter Score, they’ve taken it to the next level. And then they’re giving people recommendations, and interactive dashboards to really get into their own data, their customers find out things that they wouldn’t have found out otherwise, it’s really incredibly useful. Let’s see what John and Roy have to say about it.

Roy Barker
Our business is based very much in the travel sector, and tour operators in particular SME level tour operators, who have a lovely and exciting product that take people to interesting places, and deliver unique experiences, which clients pay considerable amounts of money for. They get things that they couldn’t normally get if they packaged it themselves, so they get a lot of expertise and so on.

Those companies tend not to have the resources of some of the more corporate, larger operators. And we were bringing expertise in terms of data analysis, insights, surveys and market research, which was able to help those clients, develop the customer relationships. To help them acquire customers more cost-effectively, and really save them time and money by getting smarter with the data that they use. And that is almost an unlimited gig in what you can do with data. The more creative we got with the data, the better we thought we were doing. But in some ways, we look back at work we were doing three or four years before that, and were probably better off repeating what we’ve done in the past rather than reinventing each time.

So it’ll be a profitable business based very much upon our time and expertise, and not on repeatability, systemization, automation and all of those pieces that we’re actually selling as what they should be doing. We needed to get more of that mindset ourselves, Julia was very useful in saying, these are the things that we think will have the greatest value to the client. And these are the things that you can productise and systemise, and just focuses more on what we could deliver in the short and medium term. And how that all fitted together to make more sense for clients. And how if you develop the product and continue developing the product, the clients get more out of it.

Jon Walton
It really is the one product, which is our NPS survey, which we’ve really developed now. So rather than it just being about customer feedback, it’s about developing customer referrals, and repeat purchase. And loyalty is probably the most advanced product that we’ve got, or subscription ongoing productised product that most of our clients are buying from us because we’ve been able to develop it and it’s got more value for the client, because we’ve been able to add on that customer referrals bits. So they’re getting, you know, off the back of the NPS survey post holiday, post trip. They’re getting customer referrals. So it’s acquisition, as well as developing that next discussion about where you’re going to go next, and we can help you find your next holiday.

Roy Barker
I think without Julia, we would probably have 15 products, none of which were particularly in great depth. And we’re probably window-dressing for things that we’ve done and just thought were smart really. Whereas what Julia helped us to do was focus back down on the stuff that would really matter to the clients, the stuff that we could deliver and build the ecosystem.

Jon Walton
She’s obviously got a lot of experience in business and across a lot of different sectors, which I think we see as one of the massive benefits of Julia, she’s an entrepreneur that has done lots of different things with lots of different people and you get a condensed version of that process. In a very simple, easy way to understand from someone that is nice to do business with.