Meet Adelynne Chao, founder of Untold Insights

She's using artificial intelligence to revolutionise market research
BizAge Interview Team
Adelynne Chao

Hi Adelynne! What's your elevator pitch?

Think of Untold Insights as the bridge between old-school market research and today's fast-paced digital world. For example, with the AI persona we create using our SegmentAI tool we're making accessing insights as easy as chatting with a teammate. No more data headaches, just straight-up insights ready for action.

Why does the market need it?

Ever felt lost during a research debrief? Companies today have tons of data and research, but making sense of it all is the tricky part. Teams everywhere simply want the ability to cut through the noise and get to the insight that really matters. SegmentAI is our answer to data overload. Our Gen Z persona, Avery, is like a superhuman teammate who always knows what's up with your segment and can help you apply it to your work, without you needing to sift through 150-slides of data points. Plus, with her multilingual capabilities, Avery bridges the communication gap, making it easier for global teams to collaborate seamlessly.

Where is the business today?

We kicked off our journey in 2019, setting out as a research and insights consultancy. Our core mission? To upgrade traditional and outdated market research models for the digital era. We’ve been diving deep into digital consumer buying behaviours, aiming to extract insights that aren’t just relevant but also actionable for our clients. With the recent rise of AI, it felt like a natural step forward for us. Investing in AI has supercharged our approach, allowing us to offer tools that truly fast-track our mission.

What made you think there was money in this?

For over 13 years, I've been deeply involved in the market research world, working across various agencies and roles. This gave me a first-hand look at the industry's strengths and shortcomings. I've seen clients struggle to engage with yet another bar chart and I’ve also seen plenty of valuable research get shelved, never to see the light of day again. Clients would often send me data decks with the request to please “turn this into something that makes sense”. Overall, it was clear that clients wanted better, bolder, and more actionable insights than the standard offerings. Recognising these gaps, I was inspired to launch my own consultancy to take research and insight to the next level. Incorporating AI solutions is a natural evolution as part of this journey.

What's going to make you a success in the market? 

Our strength lies in the unique blend of deep customer insights and cutting-edge AI. While many agencies might boast of AI capabilities for data mining or back-end processes, SegmentAI is changing the way clients interact with their data at the front-end. But it's more than just technology for us. Our team brings specialisms in modern market research, strategy, and innovation to ensure we deliver compelling and useful solutions. With Untold Insights, businesses don't just get data; they receive actionable insights, amplified by our AI expertise, to drive real value.

What is the secret to making the business work?

The true challenge in introducing something as progressive and innovative as AI is overcoming the inherent resistance to change. Many are hesitant to embrace the unfamiliar, which is understandable, as it often carries an air of mystery and uncertainty. One way we get around this is by bridging the gap between the familiar and the new. Instead of presenting AI as this futuristic, intangible concept, we frame it in more relatable terms: it’s your usual market segments, but they’re ‘alive’; it’s data, but you’re having a conversation with it. This approach makes the leap to AI more digestible and less intimidating. We’re always at the forefront of these innovations, but we recognise the importance of meeting people where they are, ensuring they’re comfortable and confident in taking the journey with us.

How do you market the company?

Marketing strategies vary widely, but our approach is rooted in value over visibility. As a burgeoning business, it's crucial for us to ensure every investment, whether time or money, yields maximum impact. We actively engage on LinkedIn, sharing insights, perspectives, and company milestones. Digital ads are tailored to resonate with our specific target audience. Our website and blog are meticulously curated to serve as a reservoir of knowledge on modern research and the advantages of AI solutions. This not only positions us as thought leaders but also boosts our SEO, driving inbound leads. Our guiding philosophy? Showcase your capabilities, be authentic, and let your work speak for itself. In a landscape where agencies often overpromise without concrete evidence, we're determined to stand out by consistently delivering on our claims.

What funding do you have? Is it enough?

Untold operates on a bootstrapped model; we’re entirely self-funded. While we haven’t pursued external investment yet, it’s a door we’re open to in the future if it aligns with our vision. From past experiences, we’ve observed the pitfalls of introducing investors prematurely. Our approach has been methodical: first, validate our ideas, ensure there’s a genuine product-market fit, and confirm demand. Only then do we channel our funds into initiatives, like SegmentAI. This strategy has really worked for us, granting us full autonomy over our solutions’ direction and design. It allows us to prioritise genuine value over just short-term financial gains.

Tell us about the business model

Our business model is rooted in the principle of diversifying income streams and productising our offerings. While consultancy remains a significant part of our portfolio, we recognise the importance of not solely relying on bespoke projects. This led us to develop solutions like SegmentAI, which we offer on a subscription basis. The tool is designed to consistently provide value to teams over time, allowing them to tap into our knowledge base in a different way.

Consultancy, by its nature, is tailored to specific needs. In contrast, SegmentAI offers a more standardised yet valuable solution, making it accessible and cost-effective. Our pricing strategy for SegmentAI is grounded in the value it brings to the table. Clients benefit from a centralised data repository, bespoke surveys curated by our team, and the intelligence of an AI persona or assistant. When you consider the combined benefits, the value proposition becomes clear, especially when benchmarked against alternative solutions.

Operational efficiency is another cornerstone of our business model. We've consciously steered clear of fixed overheads like permanent office spaces, instead opting for flexible coworking arrangements. While many businesses might chase accolades and invest heavily in awards, we believe in demonstrating our value through tangible tools and thought leadership. This approach ensures that every dollar spent directly enhances our offerings and, by extension, the value we deliver to our clients.

In essence, our approach to business growth is measured and deliberate. Instead of making hefty upfront investments, we prioritise learning, iterating, and investing judiciously, ensuring every decision aligns with our core values and mission.

What were you doing before?

Before founding Untold, I honed my skills in traditional and boutique agencies, taking on a variety of strategic roles. My journey has seen me collaborate with industry leaders, from tech giants like RIM Blackberry, Oracle, and Intuit to fashion powerhouses like Burberry and Coach. Rather than solely aiming for the next promotion, I focused on broadening my experience, diving deep into customer insight, brand strategy, and consulting. Each of these domains offers unique insights: research brings integrity but often lacks flair; brand strategy bursts with creativity but can sometimes miss the mark on rigour; and consulting commands attention, though it can occasionally get lost in jargon. My mission has always been to bridge these gaps, striving to deliver clear, evidence-based strategies that are genuinely customer-led.

What is the future vision?

Our vision is a future where businesses operate with the customer at the heart of every decision. Imagine a world where every meeting is enriched by genuine customer insights, not just a barrage of data points, but actionable intelligence tailored to each team's objectives. Instead of wading through potentially misleading survey data, teams have an AI-powered ally, like Avery, to distil what truly matters. This assistant isn't just a tool; it's a teammate, streamlining the search for the right information, ensuring it's always within reach. Our ultimate goal is to foster an environment where businesses have the confidence to consistently craft intelligent, innovative marketing strategies and solutions that not only drive progress but also contribute to a better world.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
October 13, 2023
Written by
October 13, 2023