Why whoiswhere?

Assia’s history behind it’s creation.

This is a true story behind whoiswhere and the journey Assia has been on personally and professionally.  And it all started last century.

“I immigrated from Russia to NZ with my husband and three children in 1996. After working at IBM for 5 years, we decided to start our own communications company. Our goal was to help businesses with branding, and marketing their products and services. And we did this successfully for a few years.

Then one day a client of ours needed to send a direct mail campaign to companies with 20+ staff in the Wellington CBD. So off we went to the leading supplier of business data at the time asking for a list of businesses with 20+ staff in Wellington CBD. First, they said the minimum purchase is 1,000 records, which I thought was a good start for our client. Then they said 1,000 records with 20+ staff would cover the entire Lower North Island, from Wellington all the way up to Taupo.

Oh?!! And it also included every branch which had 20+staff in it. I was shocked.

Since there was no other option, we took this list of 1,000 and after removing companies outside of Wellington region we were left with only 500 prospects to work with. I thought it was better to have something than nothing, and if they’re the leaders in this field they must know what they’re doing. What a mistake that was!

Later that year I discovered Kompass and bought it for the same client. I did this thinking it would be a perfect fit since they cover companies with 20+ staff and have a whopping 15,000 records in their database (which seemed like a huge jump from the 1,000 in the entire Lower North Island)!

This victory was short-lived however, as I discovered there were only 400 in Wellington. What was really strange though is that only 100 of the businesses I had already purchased were found in Kompass. So in actual fact there were a total of 900 businesses in Wellington with 20+ staff, and yet both of these companies had around 50% of the market.

This was really frustrating and disappointing for me. Because if neither of these companies had proper data, where am I meant to get it?! I went through a number of options trying to find a solution to my problem:

·        NZ Post and Yellow pages were not able to segment by number of staff

·        Google search was hugely time consuming (and at the time not very effective)

·        Chamber of Commerce only has a list of members, which represents some unclear part of the business community, because not every large business was a member by default as it had been in the past

·        Other business list suppliers either didn’t covering all industries or only concentrated on Auckland data

So that’s how in 2005 I made the decision to throw my hat into the ring and start my own business data company.

We decided we would do things differently to everyone else:

·        we would cover the entire market,

·        we would grow to every regional centre and beyond over time

·        we would start by walking down every street and writing down ‘who is where’

·        we would verify data on the phone three times a year

·        we will use the power of internet research to get more information

·        and we will create new innovative campaigns to further sharpen target market selection where necessary

So that’s exactly what we did and that’s why our business data is called whoiswhere. Because it is, quite simply, who is where.

If you ask me again where do we get our data? My answer is, off the street. That is why we specialise in businesses based in commercial premises with a small exception of tradesmen and consultants who traditionally work from home. Yes, in doing so we do not have all NZ companies, but we sure have the bulk of those who are actively participating in the market place.

Since 2005 we grew and grew and now have over 200,000 businesses in whoiswhere. There were heaps of lessons learned along the way and I might share some of them one day. The two most important lessons are:

Lesson #1. Data is changing all the time and the next minute after it has been verified, there is a huge change. And it will change again! So, the only salvation really is to establish a robust process for data verification and stick to it.

Lesson #2. No amount of technology can fully accomplish data gathering and data verification as well as a human can. That’s why 12 years later we still walk the streets, make phone calls and use the internet as a source of data.

We also take a great deal of care to keep our list updated, up to every 45 days for larger businesses that change more often.

Now you might think – where the heck does Kompass come into all of this??

Well at the start of 2017 we were fortunate enough to be selected as the new data supplier and distributor for Kompass International in both New Zealand and Australia. Kompass International, with headquarters in Paris, spent 2016 reviewing every data supplier across the board and had chosen to change them where the quality or quantity of data was sub-par. Kompass chose whoiswhere out of all the business data companies in NZ to work with as they recognised our data as the best on the market.

We delivered the first batch of data into Kompass mid-2017, another delivery was made in September and now there is a tiny slice left to go which will be uploaded by the end of this year. As it stands, Kompass NZ has 27,000 of NZ businesses mostly with 9+ staff uploaded. We are currently working on the final 3,000 companies for NZ and our first delivery of Australian data will be in November 2017.

Reviewing our numbers against Statistics NZ we now know that it represents 74.9% of all NZ companies 9+ staff.

In 2018 we will keep all of NZ Kompass data up to date, and grow our Australian database up to 30,000-40,000 businesses.”

Street walking and calling on businesses is not for the faint hearted. Yet it has proven to be an excellent learning possibility for many. Over the years we have had many people working with us as a stepping stone to returning back to employment or as a lifestyle choice, because most of our team is working from the comfort of their NZ home. Engaging overseas callers has proven unfavourable by NZ businesses, so we only use mature NZ voices.

Unlike many data companies, we are a marketing implementation company. That is why our view and understanding of data is very different from many. I will be delighted to talk to you when you have a challenge making sense of your B2B target market, struggle with your own old list or even if you are just starting in business and need a bit of guidance. Just get in touch or ask questions in the comments below.

Our team knows a lot about NZ businesses and recently we’ve developed a number of solutions based on our observations about the key needs many businesses crave. We are currently in the process of combining all these solutions under one roof.

Watch this space for further news!

Assia Salikhova,

Managing Director, E-ideas Limited

Co-Founder, whoiswhere™

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