Many businesses are investing huge amounts of money into digital marketing, but they aren’t exactly sure how it’s driving their sales. The Durham-based startup Lumen Insights hopes to democratize big data analytics to serve a wide range of businesses—not just the huge tech companies—and translate data into smarter decisions.
Before she was a female startup founder, Lumen Insights’ Meghan Corroon was the technical director for UNC’s Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation portfolio evaluation, and also did complex data-science work for several national governments in Africa. With such a crazy travel schedule, Corroon said she started to feel like she needed to reimagine what the next chapter of her life would look like.
After talking to a variety of entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, the idea for Lumen Insights was born.
When she founded Lumen Insights in 2018, Corroon said that by speaking with businesses, her team found that companies were paying increasing amounts of money on digital marketing without much insight into whether it was driving their sales or not.
“Basically we just said, I think we can develop an algorithm or a technology that could tell those businesses and simplify their decisions and let them have more evidence-based decision-making to drive their sales up,” Corroon said. “So they’re not just ‘throwing spaghetti against the wall,’ is the term that we heard a lot. Trial and error, or ‘cross my fingers and hope and pay for it.’”
Lumen Insights fully launched in the past three months with a monthly subscription model for three customers, and has about a dozen clients in the pipeline. Lumen has seen clients increase sales by an average of 25%. The startup has been bootstrapped to date, though it recently received a $10K MICRO grant from NC IDEA.
While she has started by targeting local businesses, Corroon said Lumen’s tools are industry-agnostic and can eventually serve a broader group of businesses and groups of people.
“I’d like more people to have access to the tools that giant tech companies have access to, to survive what we’re going through right now economically and otherwise,” Corroon said. “I think it’s been particularly timely at this moment.”
Corroon said right now Lumen is in this exciting phase of early scaling and seeing how far their product can reach in terms of market segments.
While many industries took a hit from the pandemic, Corroon said for Lumen Insights, the need for the product and the urgency for customers to move forward with Lumen has only been accentuated.
“On the business side, COVID has been fortuitous in some ways, or at least hasn’t been detrimental, because it’s really sharpened the need and urgency for businesses to pivot into online digital marketing,” Corroon said. “Almost everybody’s moved there. People who never thought they would have a strong digital presence are there now.”
Still, with a company that is female-founded and is powered by a mixed group of working parents, Corroon is seeing an impact in how we work.
“We just have an unprecedented number of women dropping out of the workforce in our economy right now, and there’s a reason for that,” Corroon said. “It’s super-challenging triangulating children running around and homeschooling, remote-schooling, and then working in this space. And so I think redefining our expectations around work-and-life balance is happening more quickly now for us than it was before.”