Starting a business is a challenge of its own, but knowing how to grow it is another. However, Alfred Jay, Ramius’ founder, has done it. His commitment and his ability to innovate were instrumental in overcoming the different obstacles encountered during his journey.
Founded in 1998, Ramius developed specialized softwares to manage online communities for general collaboration purposes. Its first two products were designed to support internal communications within companies. This was a very large market, but it was also filled with a lot of competition. Furthermore, the sales process was complex. Ramius had to win over multiple internal departments like marketing, human resources and IT. It had to eventually compete with big names in the industry like Microsoft. Nevertheless, its products worked well.
The turning point
In 2008 was the Great Recession. Economic growth slowed in many industrialized countries, including our southern neighbor. As such, Ramius’ American clients, who were its majority, were no longer spending as they were. It was, therefore, more difficult for the company to sell its products… This was a wake-up call; they had to reorient. To survive, the team was reduced from 29 to 8 employees, and all resources and money were used to create a new product in a promising niche market.
Alfred Jay and his team wondered how to identify the best market opportunity for them to aim toward. Their challenge was to target the desired market and thus create a product tailored to its needs. They already had clients using their existing software products to conduct qualitative market research. They then realized there was an opportunity in terms of qualitative research. In fact, systems like Survey Monkey do not answer questions like “How? Why?” which are qualitative data. From 2009 to 2011, it focused its effort on the development of the Recollective product.
Recollective has become Ramius’ star product and sole focus. This platform is similar to an online focus group. It allows the qualitative study online by facilitating the questions “How?” and “Why?”. The team now counts 22 employees, and the company is significantly more profitable than it ever was in the past. Among the companies benefitting from Recollective, there are Facebook, Netflix, Google, and Uber. Ramius is now a leader in the industry!
Into the future
Ramius has great ambitions! The company is doing well, but it does not prevent them from having a long-term objective. For the time being, the company mainly deals with marketing research agencies, but its goal is to also support the research groups within companies. The number of requests from businesses is increasing because Recollective allows the creation of a bank of clients with whom it is possible to test product propositions rapidly and this at a low cost.
A little advice
The best recommendation of Alfred Jay is to test the concept and be open to feedback. All ideas are good, but it is essential to listen to those around us. Discovering the “weaknesses” of one’s concept is the key to accept and then tackle them. Perseverance is the key!
** Since the publication of this article, Ramius has changed its name to Recollective.**
Article made as part of the Regional Support Fund (FARR). (In French only)
Translated by Alexandra Charland-Froment