“We Disrupt the World of Market Research” – Premise CEO, Matt McNabb

by | Feb 26, 2024


In this blog post, we ask Matt McNabb, Premise’s CEO, questions to delve into his thoughts, experience, and aspirations to understand the strategic direction and values that guide Premise in scaling its global footprint.

Tell us about yourself and your journey at Premise.

My background originally is working with global NGOs, humanitarian organizations, and international development organizations, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states. I’ve managed quantitative and qualitative field research for decades. In that experience, I came to the realization that fieldwork is a hugely human-intensive undertaking: recruiting, training, onboarding, managing, and paying data collectors – all tends to mean that quant and qual field research is slow, expensive, and inflexible. I believed it was possible to change that. Therefore, I looked to companies like Uber, Rappi, Grab, and the like both in rideshare and food delivery and thought about those companies as having solved the human logistics problem. I founded Native, a competitor company to Premise, to solve the same problem in the field research industry.

The basis for forming Native was the view that if you applied the lessons of an Uber to the world of research, you could dramatically reduce the very logistical barriers that make fieldwork so problematic – and, in so doing, could empower communities and the organizations working with those communities at once. It’s a win-win.

I joined Premise a little over two years ago when Premise acquired Native, a company I founded. Native was incredibly focused on revolutionizing the world of market research in emerging markets by leveraging the same kind of on-demand marketplace model that Premise had to deliver high-frequency, actionable insights for major consumer brands.

I decided to sell Native to Premise to help build what I thought could be a truly category-defining business that disrupts the world of data by bringing the lessons of Uber to the world of data and taking it to a global scale. And in the past two years, we’ve proven that to be a worthy and achievable pursuit.

What are some of the first things you’d like to accomplish at Premise?  

Premise has long had a strong two-sided marketplace, matching companies with locals. This business model means we have to empower our Contributors as much as we enable our customers. While Premise has done a good job of this in the past, I believe the more we can ensure that Contributors joining our network have the opportunity to supplement their monthly income and engage in the community, the more responsive and efficient the marketplace becomes for our customers as well.

It’s for this reason that I’m incredibly focused on those use cases in the marketplace that enable Contributors to compete for tasks and always have the opportunity to earn money. By constantly having Contributors in the marketplace through recurring opportunities, we provide a true technology advantage for customers using our platform. This comes mostly in the form of high-frequency, longitudinal data like measuring popular perceptions or tracking consumer price movements in high-distribution consumer goods.

This places a major focus on how we pair Contributor earning opportunities with the need for high-frequency data among the brands we work with in a way that we believe.

What do you see as the biggest areas of opportunity for the team?

Imagine you’re going to a store to buy a consumer product. Any product. Chances are you’re going to buy that product from 1 of 3 places: an e-commerce store, a grocery store, or a mom-and-pop shop. In the United States, chances are you’ll buy that product either online or in a grocery store (called “modern trade). However, in most of the world, mom-and-pop shops (traditional trade) are the most common place to buy consumer products.

In these small, independently owned stores you’ll find roughly $3.7 trillion in consumer spend for everything from diapers for your baby to a six-pack of beer for the big game. These little stores are not only hugely impactful to the communities they’re in, but they’re also earth-shatteringly important to the big brands that distribute their products out to the market for sale. And yet because there are millions upon millions of these mom-and-pop shops, all of which are independently owned and operated, it’s incredibly challenging for a brand to know how they’re performing in the extremely fragmented traditional trade channel.

Premise is building a digital twin of that entire retail landscape – store by store, community by community. We’re doing it by enabling locals living and working in those communities to earn money and connect to our on-demand marketplace, just like an Uber, thus making these stores as visible to the brands that distribute to them as they are to the members of the community for whom they service.

This digital twin of the single largest channel of trade in the world is incredibly powerful – making this offline world of retail for the first time searchable, indexable, and measurable digitally, empowering members of the communities they support all at the same time. That’s a big deal, and it’s becoming even bigger by the day.

What do you believe sets Premise apart from others in the space?

There are certain kinds of things you simply cannot know unless you’re there. But ‘being there’ for legacy market research agencies is extremely slow, manual, expensive, and episodic. We’ve turned the model on its head by enabling communities and brands to engage directly without the middleman. This is why I think we’ve seen so much growth with some of the largest organizations in the world. We’re simply getting out of the way. And the net effect is to everyone’s benefit.

Are there any particular values or principles that guide your leadership style?

I don’t drink my own KoolAid… or anyone else’s for that matter. Authenticity is everything. I’m also a firm believer in the Gramscian dictum: ‘Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.’  In practice, for me, that translates into being ruthlessly data-driven, accompanied by honesty and transparency which is a prerequisite for growth. I don’t play for quick wins, I’m serious about doing things the right way but at speed.

What’s next for Premise?

We’re incredibly focused on being the best in the world at a small number of things, getting those things right, and then adding more. The big brands and NGOs using our platform can expect the core use cases we support to become increasingly compelling, predictive, and intuitive. The community of Contributors working with those brands can expect increasing opportunities for growth and earning potential as we invest even more in getting the experience right for them as a core part of who we are and what we’re about.