How One Self-funded Tech CEO is Using Data and Analytics to Drive Passion

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series” is comprised of stories, Q&As and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds and are now leading successful companies.

Nancy Smith is president and CEO of Analytic Partners, a marketing analytics solution provider. Smith founded the company in 2000 after working at ASI (now, Ipsos ASI) and Clairol, where she managed forecasting and analytics. 

In this Q&A, Smith shares more about her passion for turning data into expertise to deliver growth and advice for other entrepreneurs trying to scale their companies.

Nancy Smith, President and CEO of Analytic Partners, headshot
Nancy Smith, President and CEO of Analytic Partners

Q: As a female founder, how did you learn to overcome societal barriers to achieve global impact?

I have always felt confident and empowered–I knew that through imagination, vision and determination, I would be able to make a global impact. As a result, I have always focused on the outcome; the strategy to drive toward success for our clients and ourselves. Whenever I have encountered points of resistance or societal barriers, my strategy has always been to continue pushing forward and focus on the value to be created.  

Q: How have you integrated your values and mission into your own company structure and professional career as a whole?

I have always been passionate about turning data into expertise to deliver growth. Analytic partners’ values are: People, Passion and Growth. We value our People–team members, clients and partners, we are Passionate about turning data into expertise–we love what we do, and we are Growth-minded–as unlimited growth means unlimited potential. Our team lives these values; this is in our DNA and our culture. We are where we are today because we have a wonderfully motivated team that is constantly brainstorming and experimenting with new ways to handle business challenges. They put their heart and minds into everything they do.

Q: What are you most excited about for 2021 and beyond?

I am excited about the pace of change in our economy, which includes consumer behavior, technology and new methods and processes to meet market needs. From my perspective, rapid change creates opportunities to innovate, experiment and find new opportunities. We are just emerging from the unprecedented global disruption of the COVID pandemic. Consumers have changed almost all aspects of how they live, work and play, and companies have had to adapt to the overnight disruption of our entire global economy. This unexpected and swift change in all aspects of meeting customer demand creates opportunities for businesses and brands to differentiate their offerings. This is the ideal time to think creatively, to test new tactics and strategies, and to get better at all aspects of business execution. These are exciting times.

Q: What inspired you to start your company?

When I founded Analytic Partners back in 2000, I had been working for a consumer goods manufacturer, Clairol. I was working with many different analytic providers to deliver reports and forecasts for the business. I perceived a need in the marketplace for a different kind of analytics provider, one that is focused on integrating the data and analytics to create value, so I went on to found Analytics Partners.  

Q: What problems are you trying to solve with your company?

There is so much that we do, but if you distill everything down to core principles, we help brands cut the inefficiencies inherent in meeting customer needs. As John Wanamaker famously observed: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” At Analytic Partners, we endeavor to reduce and minimize the half that is wasted. While Wanamaker was referring just to advertising, we go beyond marketing to also wring out inefficiencies in distribution, the supply chain, and various operational pain points for businesses. Ultimately, our goal is to make the world a better place by reducing wasted resources in meeting consumer needs around the globe.

Q: In what ways do you think differently about your industry than others do?

At Analytic Partners, we have been at this for over 20 years. We think differently than many in our industry because we take a long-term, strategic view when making decisions. We have “Partners” in our brand name because we strive to be the best business partners that we can for our customers. We strive to create long-term, mutually valuable relationships where both sides benefit from our sense of commitment, motivation and innovation. We create long-term relationships where our clients’ success is aligned with growth and success. 

Q: How are you approaching measurement and analytics in tech differently from your competitors?

We approach measurement and analytics in tech differently from our competitors in a number of ways:

  1. We were early in recognizing that cookie tracking, identity-based advertising, was vulnerable to changing consumer and legal demands for personal privacy. Therefore, we developed our Commercial Mix Analytics system within our GPS Enterprise software platform to deliver high-value analytics without the need to collect personal data in an invasive way.
  2. Our platform addresses both short-term, tactical decision-making, and long-term, strategic, brand-building value creation. Many of our competitors are focused exclusively on “how should you serve your next advertisement to this particular person?” While that is a valuable capability, it only really addresses the tactical component of making a sale. We have built our systems to be able to tackle both day-to-day tactical decision needs, and long-term brand building and value creation opportunities. 
  3. We go beyond marketing and leverage analytics to create efficiencies in other aspects of the value creation chain. For instance, our solution helps inform brands how to better deliver on their customers’ needs under a variety of scenarios. For instance, during the pandemic we helped our clients determine the best way to pivot their online, in-store and delivery models to minimize the disruption. 

Q: What is your advice for other entrepreneurs trying to scale their own company?

My advice is to keep firing on all cylinders. You should endeavor to exceed the current needs of all parties (customers, employees, investors) while keeping in mind the constant need to innovate and improve to create growth and opportunity for the future. In other words, balance current executional pressures with a strategy to fuel future growth. It’s not easy, but achieving near-term and long-term balance in your business and operations is one of the most satisfying feelings for an entrepreneur. 

Q: Do you have a favorite quote or “personal mantra” you use to keep yourself motivated?

Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Throughout our years, we’ve adapted through recessions, media, data and technology disruption, our client industries have faced massive disruption—and we’ve adapted. Our tagline is adapt evolve thrive– we feel you can thrive in the most challenging times if you adapt. We live that ethos and use analytics, data and science, to help companies and brands make positive decisions in the face of disruption.

  • Originally published November 15, 2021, updated April 4, 2022