Data Impact from conviction to acquisition
Our 4th investment: Data impact has been acquired…
…less than 3 years after Red River West invested!
NielsenIQ has acquired Data Impact (press release here). Back in 2018, RRW led the company’s round, and has actively contributed to Data Impact’s international growth ever since.
Beyond the return on investment which perfectly demonstrates what is to be expected with our cross-border France-US thesis’ execution, it is worth looking back at this journey which is a great illustration of the way we work at Red River West.
2018 Investment case: A blue-ocean retail analytics product worth bringing to market in the US fast
In 2018, Data Impact reached-out ahead of launching their round and we immediately loved their vision: Omnichannel Retail was the future and France was at the forefront of this revolution. There were already 4500 click and collect points in France (50% more than in the US at the time!). Online grocery sales too were growing strong: in our investment memo, we estimated they would triple to reach a 9% share by 2025 (we’ll see just how conservative we were).
Yacine and Ludovic are exceptional founders, combining sectorial experience with a strong vision. They put together a fabulous diverse team of 28 nationalities in France, Algeria and the UK (they had no presence in the US at the time), staff turnover was very low and Glassdoor rating was a whooping 4.7.
That team was building the industry standard for analysing omnichannel data and they were already working with 70% of the top 50 brands in France.
Thanks to its unique technology, Data Impact provides actionable insights to optimize search visibility and media campaigns, reduce out of stocks events or even identify new category opportunities and price gaps… Clients were happy and hungry for its comprehensive, accurate and actionable data.
To make it easier to visualise the kind of precious insights the platform offers, here is an exemple of a recent infographic providing a few ice cream scoops (they can also do yummy pie charts!):
As always an important part of our analysis was dedicated to carefully assessing the US potential. At the time, click-and-collect was taking off rapidly in the US (x10 in the previous 2 years) but in France, it was already mature, giving Data Impact a strong competitive advantage in the US.
Indeed, the company had been investing for several years in R&D to build a technology which our due diligence deemed to be far ahead of any player on the market for its ability to collect comprehensive and accurate data at the point of sale as opposed to using samples like the competition. Our deep dive and reference calls highlighted a blue ocean opportunity that Data Impact could benefit from.
2019–2021: Setting up the US presence and accelerating further
After leading the company’s 2018 round alongside Bpifrance Digital Venture, a great partner to work with during this entire journey, we designed a clear action plan with the founding team in order to pave the way for a US market entry. The first part included strengthening the HQ in Paris with monitoring closely newly defined SaaS KPIs or building a scalable and repeatable sales machine. Then came the time to nail our market entry plan with numerous roadshows which culminated on the first US customers. Finally the company was ready to open a US office and to make its first hires, for which RRW was actively involved.
In addition we always strive to pair our portfolio companies with world class advisors who can greatly accelerate the US market entry through their knowledge and network. In this case, we had set our eyes on an executive with a strong experience in information services and CPG. After a long search, we identified that Mitch Barns, who was previously Nielsen’s ex-global CEO, had just left the company. He was fitting our ideal profile beyond our wildest expectations given his experience as a former CEO of Fortune 500 public company in the exact space Data Impact operated in but also due to his deep experience in CPG thanks to his time at Procter & Gamble. We convinced him to join the journey and onboarded him with Yacine and Ludovic during a very productive workshop in New York.
At first, this international expansion was slowed down by covid (the CEO’s US relocation was affected), but the pandemic also accelerated the shift to online channels by 2 to 5 years as 60% of shoppers are now omnichannel shoppers (remember the 9% global share of online grocery sales we predicted for 2025? In 2021 it peaked at 16%…).
These market tailwinds contributed to increase an already impressive growth of the company from 2019 to 2021. It was in this context that an unsolicited strategic acquisition offer came from NielsenIQ only three years after our investment.
Combining NielsenIQ’s POS coverage with Data Impact’s granular store-level eCommerce data will be a true game changer. NielsenIQ’s unmatched retail measurement footprint will enable help Data Impact scale its product offering globally.
At RRW, we are proud of what the Data Impact team has achieved to date, and thrilled to see a French team build the future of retail analytics.
We were also thrilled that the acquisition was done in conditions that maximized the value sharing with company employees. At RRW, it’s very important for us to make sure profits are shared between all parties that contributes to a company’s success.
Our team is committed to be an active investor unlocking the international impact of European scale-ups ; if you are a founder building something cool with the ambition to develop a worldwide leading proposition and win in the US market , feel free to reach out!
Antoine Boulin & Joseph Houssais
Source: CG, WBOC, Kantar, NielsenIQ, eMarketer, Fevad, Kroger and Walmart company reports