Interview with Jason Thompson about 33 Sticks

About Jason:

Jason ThompsonJason is an experienced analyst & entrepreneur whose primary focus is on forcing organizations to think differently about data, insights, and recommendations. Recently, Jason co-founded 33 Sticks, an analytics boutique, advising Fortune 500 companies and partnering with unique, early-stage startups. He holds a B.S. in Information Systems and an M.S. in Management Information Systems from Utah State University. He also loves salmon sashimi.

1.  Firstly, can you tell us about 33 Sticks?  I understand that you are an analytics consultancy, but you seem to be going out of your way to say that you are not “web analysts.”  That’s kind of weird because when I think of you and Hila, I do think about web analytics.  Please explain.

33 Sticks is an analytics boutique that provides business advisory services to established brands, early-stage startups, and marketing agencies.

It was important for us to message to the market that we are not “web analysts”, since web analytics is only part of what we do. At 33 Sticks, we are business advisors that just happen to be really good with using data to help our clients. Our clients come to us because they have problems that need to be solved and they know that we will find and make use of whatever data we can get our hands on, and be able to define solutions to their problems. 

2.  You have taken an interesting route to entrepreneurship.  Can you tell us what led you to decide to start your own business?

It was inevitable that I would end up starting my own business but, as you point out, I didn’t take what is commonly seen as the traditional route. When I think of entrepreneurs, I think of kids creating startups in Silicon Valley and serial entrepreneurs who are on their 6th business, but the reality is, there are no traditional routes to becoming an entrepreneur.

It was during my first job, out of college, that I started to write down ideas in a notebook. The notebook contained a list of things that I observed that worked really well with businesses but mostly it was a list of things I thought that I could do better, given the opportunity.

As my career progressed, I started to take on management and consulting positions and I began to implement a lot of those ideas and innovative methodologies as I was helping other companies. From day one, I received a lot of interesting feedback about my philosophies on doing business. Many would say:

“I don’t understand how you run your team, it’s like some sort of strange hippie management style that isn’t going to be very successful.”

“There is no way you can run a successful business with rainbows and hackie sacks, you might as well go off and work for a non-profit somewhere.”

“You’d make a much better farmer than a business guy.”

I could go on and on, believe me, but the message was clear, my consulting style was a bit non-traditional and if I was ever going to have the opportunity to truly put my ideas to the test, I’d have to do it with my own business, no one else was going to let me do it with theirs.

3.  Can you give us some examples of projects that 33 Sticks has taken on? 

33Sticks_2C_PMSThe projects we work on, just like our clients, are very diverse. Projects could be anything from helping startups acquire funding… to analyzing in-store purchasing patterns… to helping regional energy companies connect with their customers…. etc.

Price Strategy

One of the very first projects we took on was to advise a mobile app developer on a profitable and sustainable pricing model for their application.  This required testing and analyzing different pricing methodologies, triggers, and price points. We completed an in-depth cohort analysis of their customer base and were able to determine not only the ideal pricing but also the appropriate time to ask their customers to purchase.

Stitching Online and Offline Insights

As we are not hyper focused on web, we are able to look at problems in a very unique way. One of our clients has both a traditional online store as well as brick-and-mortar locations throughout the United States. We were tasked with the very broad request of increasing average order value. After completing a detailed analysis of visitor behavior, based on proximity to a brick-and-mortar location, we were able to identify a series of optimization tests specifically targeted at increasing average order value for customers not located near a physical store.

Advising Startups

One of the things we love most is the work we are doing with startups. We are currently advising several startups in key areas of their business such as acquisition and growth strategies, in-product analytics, positioning for funding rounds, and optimization of customer lifetime value. We are official product advisors for a startup that is building a data aggregation and visualization solution, called Cojoin (https://cojoin.com/). Through our role with Cojoin, we are actively helping shape the product, working closely with beta customers, and developing go-to-market strategies.

4.  What goals do you have for the business that will shape what 33 Sticks will look like in 3 years?  5?  20?

Ultimately, we see 33 Sticks as a product company but that doesn’t mean we are going to abandon the work we do with clients, as it keeps us closely attuned to new trends and emerging technologies. For example, we are currently conducting independent research around new analytics technologies, and working with a few clients to develop an offline analytics strategy for wearable technology, home automation, and consumer behavior within the retail-shopping environment.

But the overarching vision is to simply build an amazing company that we are proud of and that people are proud to come to work for. Work doesn’t need to be such a dreadful experience, we believe that not only can we provide valuable services and build innovative products but we can also cultivate a work environment that employees love to work in.

5.  To what degree will your past experience shape the decisions that you make with 33 Sticks?  How so?

My past experiences have always played a critical role in my decision-making process. I’ve had the opportunity to work for many great companies and alongside countless numbers of extremely smart people.  I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way, many things to do and some things to avoid, but the greatest lesson I have learned so far is to focus on quality and stay true to what you believe in.

Making quality a core value that I have been unwilling to compromise on, has helped shape the talent that I have hired into my teams and the deliverables that I have allowed to be presented to our clients. If you stand for quality and value, you will attract co-founders, partners, customers, and friends who all share in your values and will be willing to help you along the way.

6.  What do you think the future holds for “digital analytics?” 

I believe that the future for digital analytics lies in the more complex analysis of the consumer world, where the shopping experiences and consumption of content is completely liberated from the traditional web-navigation behavior we have been analyzing in the past decade. Kids are no longer accessing websites and stores in the same way we did in the past, and it’s causing the landscape of the digital experience to require highly-customized and personalized solutions.

33 Sticks is seeing that the need to properly capture, analyze, and act on data in this dynamic space, with so many digital touch-points, is experiencing an explosion right now.

So as the “Internet of Things” becomes more of a reality, brands both large and small are turning to us and demanding more sophisticated insights into their customers’ behavior patterns, and looking for real business advice from someone that understands their ecosystems as a whole. That is why we are positioning 33 Sticks now to offer these solutions to large established brands as quickly as possible, and at the same time we are also working to expose the same solutions to young startups, early in their journey, so they are better positioned to make smarter decisions for their company from the beginning. We strive to stay ahead of the curve as we currently see that Web Analytics simply isn’t enough to answer the critical business questions that are being asked.

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