For the growing population of midsize venture capital firms in Central Texas, a group of librarians is becoming a vital resource.
Austin-based business research firm Bizologie is not only offering expertise to VC firms, but also to companies in private equity, advertising and marketing as well. The almost-two-year-old company provides detailed business intelligence to clients based on their research needs.
“There’s three librarians running this company,” said Lindsey Schell, partner and chief of business development at Bizologie. “That should give people pause because it does not really happen that often.”
Schell met Bizologie founder and CEO Laura Young while working at the University of Texas Libraries with Bizologie’s third partner April Kessler. The three women have extensive experience in research and library sciences. Young led the research department at Austin Ventures for seven years before her position was phased out.
The elimination of the research positions at Austin Ventures is representative of the number of companies that can’t afford in-house research. Employing researchers is costly, Schell said, and it’s more affordable for smaller businesses to outsource requests to firms like Bizologie. The pattern isn’t restricted to financial institutions either.
“We notice a similar trend among the ad and creative agencies where the small to mid-size firms cannot afford an in-house research team, but in order to stay competitive with their peers, they still need that data,” Schell said.
Venture capital surged in Austin in 2015, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Deals in the area received $740 million last year, a 20 percent increase from 2014, making Austin the largest VC recipient in Texas.
While most of Bizologie’s VC clients are in the Austin area, the company is expanding its reach outside the state as well, working with companies like Boomtown Accelerator in Boulder, Colo., and Lewis & Clark Ventures in Missouri. Bizologie fills any request, whether businesses need information on clients, products or consumer markets. Private equity and venture capital firms tend to prefer to work on a retention basis, sending over questions as soon as they arise.
“When you say research, that terms can mean a lot of different things to people,” Schell said. “We’re providing credible and strategic data to make business decisions. If you’re not using data to back up business decisions, there might be a problem there.”
Bizologie’s direct competition include major research firms such as Gartner and McKinsey Global Institute, but those larger companies usually offer canned reports and limited interaction between the business and the researchers.
The VC world is known to be fairly exclusive but Bizologie has made significant headway as a newcomer. It’s hard to get in the door without a personal introduction, Schell said, but Young’s connections through Austin Ventures helped Bizologie enter the VC world and establish a solid reputation.
“Through the miracle of LinkedIn, we were able to identify pretty quickly how far our existing network would reach,” Schell said.
Schell doesn’t have a background in financial research like Young and Kessler, who also worked at Austin Ventures. She’s had to learn on the job, but said she’s made a lot of headway since joining the company in January of 2015 with the help of her partners.
“I see a lot startups in our line of work and I know that finding the right cofounder is one of the biggest challenges a startup will face,” Schell said. “I had the privilege of knowing my business partners for more than a decade. There was never a doubt in my mind that they were the right people to start a company with.”