Catapult Insights is an outcomes-focused insights and innovation consultancy that uses research as a foundational tool to help brands grow, evolve and future-proof their business. Its mission is to shape tomorrow through the voices of today and that starts with understanding people at their core -- their needs, motivations, and behaviors, and lending a view into the future. The company specializes in insights and innovation, with particular expertise in brand, product development, category and target market understanding, and consumer journey.
We sat down with Co-founders Jill Miller & Justin Sutton to learn more about the company.
Of the services you offer, is there one in particular that is still emerging, and you feel holds the most unfulfilled promise? If so, why and how do you see it evolving / helping your clients in the future?
One thing we’ve been discussing are research summits with our clients. The idea is to help facilitate annual research planning between our clients’ research departments and their stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to help clients find more efficient ways to accomplish their goals and make their research budgets stretch farther. It’s not something for every client, but some organizations could really benefit from having a research partner actively looking for crossover between strategic objectives that could lead to finding efficiencies of scale at the research execution level.
For several years now research companies have realized they can’t simply deliver insights but need to consult closely with clients to help them implement and communicate insights across their corporations to have a real impact. How are you going about this?
Absolutely agree with this! True collaboration and consultation are at the core of our company. When we were first sketching out what Catapult could be, we thought back to the projects and client relationships where we felt our work had a real, lasting impact within our clients’ organizations. All of those clients and projects had a couple of things in common: We truly enjoyed and were exhilarated by the work; there was a true partnership and culture of collaboration throughout the project and beyond. We became a natural extension of our client’s team, learning from each other and working together towards a shared goal.
We decided to take that culture of collaboration and partnership and make it the heart of our company. However, saying you’re going to be a collaborative consultant is easy, actually doing it requires commitment, focus, and never losing sight of why it is so important.
What this looks like in practice is immersing ourselves in our client’s business – treating their challenges like our challenges. We become an extension of their team, working side-by-side to guide them to success. Our flexibility to fill knowledge gaps and expand capabilities delivers our clients lean, high-octane solutions when they need them most. We’re committed to bringing our best and brightest every time and learning from each other along the way.
To do this, with every engagement we: Immerse ourselves in our clients’ business to be proactive partners; Envision the world through a decision-making lens; Elevate data into insights; Equip clients for the future; Illuminate a path for clients to take action and become couriers of meaningful change.
What is the number-one area of improvement your business is working on (e.g., speed to insights, DIY tools, improving data quality, etc.)?
Our Innovation practice has a number of initiatives we’re building to meet the needs of our clients. One is growing our community of Creatively Fluid Thinkers – individuals we test for their ability to take our lead on problems to solve and tirelessly help us push our solution development into exciting new places. We already have a strong base of CFTs in pockets around the US and utilize their skillset to propel innovative thought forward during co-creation sessions. Those creative skills are as rare as they are valuable, and expanding this community is on our roadmap.
We are also working on new methods for engaging CFTs and infusing them within curated innovation journeys for our clients. Over the course of 15 years practicing innovation, we have observed that organizations benefit tremendously from co-creation approaches that include client stakeholders as active participants. The challenge has traditionally been finding enough time with client teams to embed them in the process and keeping forward momentum with longer engagements. That’s why we’re creating experiences for our clients that carry stakeholders from need realization and empathy sessions through solution development and concept testing in a matter of days.
What are the most common problems that brands bring to your door?
"Where do we go from here and how do we get there?" Is a common challenge brands bring to us. This can take many forms though. Sometimes it’s trying to understand the consumer journey today, how it has changed and how the brand needs to adapt to meet and exceed shifting consumer needs. Other times we are looking 3, 5, or even 10 years into the future and helping to fill the brand’s innovation pipeline with new ideas based on consumer needs, experiences, and trends.
What surprised you most about being an entrepreneur?
The rollercoaster ride of emotions! Being an entrepreneur has been so rewarding, but also challenging. Within the same day we might be celebrating a new client win (the high), dealing with IT upgrades (the middle ground), and trying to sort out taxes (the low). We always expected to have lots of ups, downs, and everything in between. We were just surprised to have so many in a single day. Being an entrepreneur with a new company means wearing a lot of hats and quickly changing them. But, over time those hats are feeling a bit more comfortable, and we’ve learned to surround ourselves with experts who can wear some of those hats for us (and wear them better).
What prompted you to join the Insights Association / What have been the most valued benefits of membership for you and your team thus far?
As a new company we really wanted to make sure we were part of the larger insights community. We feel it is important to surround ourselves with other professionals in the industry from which to learn, collaborate, and lift each other up – and the Insights Association gives us the ability to do all of those things. So far, the regional conferences and the connections we made from them have been the most valuable benefit of membership. The Las Vegas conference was full of interesting talks and smart people and we left feeling motivated and energized.