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We loved 2017 & will love 2018 even more

January 4, 2018

Dear Evo family,
this intense 2017 draws to an end: time for our traditional break, inspiration and reflections.

Looking back at this time 12 months ago… SO much changed.
Team-wise, we have grown over 50% from last year, to now 29-people excluding advisors; interestingly, over 50% of last year’s ‘end of year reflections recipients’ changed; mostly former contractors as we build a permanent in-house team. Staggering metrics, that hopefully give the idea of the restless pace of change.

We moved offices again in Turin and London, to larger and more central locations; firmed up solid client relationships who are actively referring new clients; gained entry to serve ‘top of the cream’ business; and doubled our top line.

Still, as I read through my own words of positive enthusiasm from last year, while the emotion only grew stronger – some goals are still to be achieved. It still feels like a ‘job to be done’. The challenge was greater than I expected, in some cases, but this made it only more exciting!

Goals we had set for 2017, & -> results achieved, one by one:

– Grow quantity, quality and level of engagement of the advisory team
-> Not achieved. Still lots of grounds to cover, towards setting up proper business & scientific boards.
We added 2 new scientific advisers (Sebastien Thomassey and Paolo Brandimarte), grew the engagement of Robert Diamond who stepped up as Chairman, and started publishing scientific papers and patents with Laura Sacerdote and Roberta Sirovich (who also had her second child this year). However the original goal was to broaden our advisory group even deeper within the business community, and this goal is yet to be achieved.

– Build crispy product demos and sharpen our client pitches
-> Only partly achieved. Our client pitch and onboarding process has certainly become sharper: we know our distinctive solutions address 4 of the most challenging problems a business must face in its decision-making, namely
1) predicting the impact of a ~5% price change within a ~50% sales volatility data set
2) measuring 100s of promotions/anti-churn/markdowns, often concurrent, and with limited to no systematic A/B testing
3) forecasting sales of items before they are even produced or delivered to stores
4) estimating the % probability of selling, where granularity of data is mostly 0, 1 and sometimes 2 pieces
However, turning these, and their supporting pieces (market and impact tracking) into compelling storylined demos, is not yet something we mastered to the level we need to. We really want to strike the right balance between scalability and flexibility, so we will continue to take our time to get there properly.

– Beef up the partnership roster with leading IT, consulting and academic partners
-> Mostly achieved. We still have space for 1-2 additional impactful partnerships, but already built up a beefy roster including PwC, IBM, Microsoft, BCG, and many others.

– Host an internal conference in Feb and an external event in May
-> Achieved. Both events worked well, so much so that in 2018 we shall change further to an even more content- and events-driven marketing strategy.

– Position ourselves as thought leaders, through writing digital posts and a printed book
-> Partly achieved. Martin and Michal have made an excellent job of launching our blog and newsletter, and establishing our content base; however our reach and impact are still far below our aspiration. And the book is nowhere in sight – a known issue!

– Become top choice for the best talent: top notch data scientists, senior techies, other relevant enthusiasts
-> Achieved. Our impactful meritocracy attracted some impressive talent in 2017. We hired even more internationally than before, added our first (second, and third) PhD, probably interviewed close to every top graduate from target schools in Turin, and even helped our clients hire some of our pipeline candidates. However in terms of seniority we are still a 29-years-old average team (lucky them young ones), so we can continue to tilt the balance towards more senior hires in the future.

– Planting the seeds for what we aspire to be: a very special company, that provides the world with a new mix of skills, tools, and results, delivered with an entirely new approach. Spread the news: we are here to stay and make a difference.
-> Ditto. Here we are. Doing just that!

– Our ultimate, ambitious goal is to grow our top line run rate by 10x in the next 24 months
-> On our way. As we grew 2x this year, we now just have to 5x next year in order to achieve a combined 10x. Working on it.

We are therefore looking to fill the open gaps, also by implementing some part-discontinuities with the past: new funding, more senior hires, expanded advisory group.

Our 2018 goals:
1) Iconic ‘Evo Con(ference)’ that is outward looking vs our previous ‘team get togeteher’ events. A new approach to growing client awareness and generating pull-demand. I would still continue to do a ‘yearly get together’ social event.
2) 5 leading business advisors joining a dedicated board
3) 4 complete product sets, including brochure, demo, website storyline, and multi-tenant architecture
4) International media coverage, to the level already achieved in Italy
5) ‘Gold standard’ recognition within our domain, at least initially within the global fashion community.

Since I appreciate the complexity of the above, let me keep the list short and simple. I firmly believe that the quality of our work will make these sufficient in order to achieve our financial goals.

Same as last year, I know it sometimes was, and still is, not easy. But hopefully always fun, rewarding and deeply meaningful. What is not going to change, is our focus on delivering superior value and excellent returns to our existing and future clients; our being innovators and diligent executors; our open and inclusive team spirit.
These will forever remain our top priorities.

We will continue to bring the best of science, the best of technology, and the best of consulting, to our business partners.
In a world of buzzwords, we are truly demonstrating a different approach: building a new man/machine alliance, with demonstrable impact. I am proud of our difference, and hopefully so is everyone of you.
A scalable business model that, by closing all supply/demand gaps, will significantly benefit our clients, the business community and ultimately the world, through meaningful scientific and technical give-back, & ultimately greater economic efficiency.

Look forward to the next steps in this exciting journey together!
Meanwhile, may the holidays bring you and your family the well deserved rest and rejuvenation, along with peace and inspiration.

While busy ‘graduating to an established company’ we have not yet confirmed the date of our 2018 get-together. However I know that this will be a truly unique impactful event, and therefore hope to have more of you attend than last year’s!


About the author

Fabrizio Fantini is the brain behind Evo Pricing. His 2009 PhD in Applied Mathematics, proving how simple algorithms can outperform even the most expensive commercial airline pricing software, is the basis for the core scientific research behind our solutions. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and has previously worked for 10 years at McKinsey & Company.

He is thrilled to help clients create value and loves creating powerful but simple to use solutions. His ideal software has no user manual but enables users to stand on the shoulders of giants.

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