NEWS1 March 2011

Ex-Hall & Partners innovation chief goes mobile with new venture

People Technology UK

UK— A new research business using mobile apps to catch people ‘in the moment’ has been set up by Hall & Partners’ former head of innovation Richard Owen.

Owen (pictured) has started Crowdlab with partners Mat Mabe and Jim Willis of Leicester-based Bulb Studios, which develops websites and mobile apps.

Will Green of the University of Leicester is also working with the company to help design user-friendly interfaces for participants and clients.

Crowdlab currently has apps for iPhones and Android smartphones, and plans to launch versions for Blackberry and Windows phones later in the year.

One of the firm’s initial areas of focus will be feedback on branded events, Owen told Research.

“Any brand that’s putting on an experience where in-the-moment research would help them evaluate it, in the past it’s been quite a logistical and expensive exercise to recruit people and to get it done,” he said. “Mobile will make that easier and less expensive… It’s about making the research fit seamlessly into the experience, rather than jar with it. Giving clients that feedback without intruding.”

The platform can also be used for research on shopping experiences or for diary projects tracking participants’ everyday activities.

Owen, who spent 10 years with Millward Brown before setting up Hall & Partners’ Chicago office and most recently serving as its global head of innovation, said Crowdlab will be able to offer a full-service solution, or just the elements clients need on a one-off or licence basis. Clients can apply their own branding to apps and mobile websites, and build surveys using a library of prepared questions.

For now, Crowdlab envisages that most of its studies will use clients’ own databases of respondents, but it is also building its own community which it will survey regularly about a range of topics.