My Startup: N2D Method
The N2D Method, created by consultancy Subsector, helps business owners make complex decisions with increased confidence.
It comprises an algorithmic system designed to help businesses make critical decisions - taking what a consultancy might do and coding it into a tanglible process that can be licensed out to more practitioners.
Founders: Jessica Gregson & Phil Dearson
We talked to Jessica and Phil about starting N2D Method.
Why did you launch N2D Method?
Jessica: The N2D Method existed originally to help teams to make sure they were "answering the right exam question"; a systematic way to help people interrogate and understand the reasons behind a brief or a particular course of action.
It has developed into being a method for helping people to make better decisions, get alignment across or within teams, scenario plan, prioritise and to test or validate their thinking. It didn't always exist as a software tool and we didn't always licence it to other organisations - these have been later developments.
Phil: The Method was originally invented to help complex organisations focus on the needs of the people they serve. It was a pretty crude attempt to help them prioritise what to do next. The approach involved identifying where helping other people might also help the organisation too. The emphasis on numbers and algorithms for assisted decision-making was originally about reducing subjectivity.
Tell us more about the product.
P: It started as a hideous set of spreadsheets but it's come a long way since then. With each iteration, the underlying algorithms have become more useful. Today the Method is supported by a set of web-based tools built using Python and React.
Where are you at right now?
J: We launched a new version of our software in late 2019 which has all of our three key tools in one place with lots of new features, so at the moment we're marketing this to a much bigger group of clients and potential licensees than we have done previously. However, we're still being selective about who we invite to become licensed practitioners.
What are your aims for the next year?
J: We're building the number of case studies that we can talk about publicly. One of our challenges is that the N2D Method tends to be used for confidential decisions - this is fascinating and valuable but not always great for marketing!
We're currently planning a public webinar series for both N2D practitioners and those interested to understand the principles behind the method - many of which have useful applications even if you do not go on to employ the tools.
What's been the hardest thing about getting it off the ground?
J: Balancing growing our consulting business, Subsector (which uses N2D as one of its main approaches) and the product business, The N2D Method, and its licensee base. In our case, the consulting business funds the product business, so we have to find the right balance for our time and energy.
Why should more people be using the product?
J: Every business we meet has similar problems: They want to be more certain where to experiment and invest. They need to change in a rapidly evolving environment. They are increasingly aware of bias in decision-making and want to minimise it. They want to better balance the needs of customers with their business objectives. The N2D Method helps with all of those things.
How much will it cost users - and why is it worth the investment?
JG: We have two models - PAYG and subscription. Enterprise clients, agencies and consultants can train to become method practitioners for free, then pay £2,000 for each new project they complete.
Alternatively, they can subscribe and for £1,000 a month use the tools an unlimited number of times and have unlimited users. The Method gives them a consistent way to progress almost any important decision in their business, or for their clients' business. It's a cost-effective way to get big consultancy thinking for a fraction of the price.