Ged Parton is the CEO of Maru Group, the technology-enabled market research and customer insights company. The Group provides their 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.
Since the Group was founded in 2016, Maru has made four acquisitions across the UK and North America. These brands are leading the way in the provision of research, insight and advisory services powered by cutting-edge technology and innovation. For our November edition, we speak to Ged about founding Maru Group, its recent acquisitions and vision for the future.
How did the idea about Maru Group come about?
Around 10 years ago, I was in a meeting with a client, where it became clear to me that companies outside of the market research industry were beginning to use new technologies to do our job faster and more accurately. As an industry, we needed to shift our thinking and start embracing technologies, to empower our researchers and stay abreast of external developments.
The market research industry is blessed with talent and creativity. There is a large number of small-mid sized firms in the market, run by hugely talented management teams, which have the potential to grow quickly and scale their capabilities. However, they operate in a market which is characterised by relatively high barriers to entry for companies looking to seize market share, including a need for capital, innovative technologies and access to global markets.
At Maru, innovation key. We are constantly on the lookout for companies with innovative technologies, which can be incorporated into our platform, enabling us to provide our clients with an enhanced range of technologies, to complement our market-leading advisory services.
Tell us a bit about the company’s ethics and business model?
At Maru, we firmly believe that disaggregation is a virtue. The Group acts as a platform, enabling each of our companies to develop and flourish, retaining their own individual culture and identity, whilst at the same time collaborating together to provide clients with a fully integrated service.
Scaling a business is not just about capital – innovation and access to a global market are also critical. Maru is committed to providing the small or medium-sized business that we acquire access to all of these components. Our combination of talent, technologies and geographies enables us to provide clients with greater levels of insight, which inform their strategic decision making and consistently enable higher levels of customer satisfaction and cost-savings.
In a year within its launch, Maru Group acquired four portfolio companies and has over 400 employees working across the US, Canada and the UK – how did you achieve this? What were some of the challenges that you were faced with?
In partnership with Primary Capital, we have adopted a buy-and-build strategy, identifying companies ripe for acquisition, to help us expand our service and product offer. These acquisitions have provided us with instant access to great technologies, infrastructure, a geographically diverse customer base, cash flow and importantly, highly talented employees. Through this acquisitive strategy we have brought together market-leading firms with high potential for growth, and technology platforms that can be proliferated at scale across the Group.
Throughout any acquisition process, service delivery has to be sustained and reputation protected. The business must stay focused on maintaining its reputation amongst both its existing customer base and that which it is acquiring. This means planning integrations carefully and sensitively to ensure clients are unaffected and experience no disruption to the service they are accustomed to receiving.
What is your vision for the future of the company? Where do you see Maru Group in 2-3 years?
By 2020, I see Maru Group as a top 20 global player in the market research sector, continuing to drive technological innovation and supporting the best talent that our industry has to offer. I firmly believe that acquisitions should be made based on the desire for quality rather than quantity. Our investment in new companies is strategic. We recognise the value that the specific team and technology will bring the Group and make the logical decision to bring them on board. I am confident that continuing this value-add approach will result in a market-leading position for Maru Group within five yars.
What’s your piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?
Always prioritise your team; they are the ones helping you make your vision a reality. Make sure you foster an environment where employees can function at their peak performance as it will make you stand out in the market. When acquiring our portfolio Maru specifically sought out talented management teams with collaborative working cultures which will fit in and enhance our existing working force, creating an innovative environment which promotes sustained growth.