[Video] From Rockstar Dreams to AI Insights: The Journey of Hamish Brocklebank

Apr 30, 2024

In this insightful interview from GreenBook's CEO Series, Hamish Brocklebank, CEO of Brox.AI, shares his unique path from aspiring musician to AI market research leader.

Hamish Brocklebank, the CEO of Brox.AI, recently sat down with Leonard Murphy as part of GreenBook's CEO Series to discuss his journey into the world of market research and artificial intelligence (AI). From his early aspirations of being a rock star to now leading the charge in AI-powered insights, Brocklebank's story is one of passion, adaptability, and innovation.

Throughout the interview, Brocklebank delves into what sets Brox.AI apart in the industry—the strategic utilization of cutting-edge technologies like GPT-4 for in-depth qualitative data analysis. By harnessing the power of AI, Brox.AI is revolutionizing brand tracking, predictive analytics, and the accessibility of insights.

Brocklebank also shares his vision for the future of market research, discussing the potential for AI to democratize insights, accelerate decision-making, and drive success in an ever-evolving business landscape. He emphasizes the importance of staying at the forefront of technological advancements while also anticipating the second and third-order effects AI will have on industries and research as a whole.

Watch the full interview or read the transcript below to learn more about Hamish Brocklebank's fascinating journey and his insights on the future of AI in market research. This interview was originally conducted and published by GreenBook as part of their CEO Series.

Interview Transcript

Leonard Murphy: Hello everybody. It's Lenny Murphy with another edition of our CEO series of interviews and today. I am joined by Hamish Brocklebank the CEO and founder of Brox.AI, Hamish welcome.

Hamish Brocklebank: Hi Lenny, great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Leonard Murphy: That's good to have you now we're gonna keep this down at 10 minutes. But as part of our first question on your origin story, you do need to reference all the instruments in the back.

Hamish Brocklebank: haha, so of course, so where we diving right in then just Okay.

Leonard Murphy: Diving right in yep. We're gonna

Hamish Brocklebank: So I was gonna say in a parallel life. I would not be a market research. I would be a rockstar headlining Glastonbury, but sadly, one doesn't get everything in life. But it's a big passion of mine. So I was gonna say I play all these instruments since starting blocks. Most of them are sadly gathering dust, but when I do have a moment, I do like to play everything from the ukulele back there to the base, there's a mandolin just off camera that I started teaching myself last year. So it's a big passion of mine and I would say it's good for the soul to have a strong passion in parallel to one work life.

Hamish's Background & Journey to Market Research

Leonard Murphy: Absolutely were you ever on track for the rock star? Where you...

Hamish Brocklebank: No, no sadly not I play a lot but I don't think I was talented enough to really go the whole way or maybe I mean I try but anyway many people but yes, it was, other things got in the way and such but maybe one day I hope that there'll be a second act and maybe in five years or say if the music industry still exists. It will give it a go.

Leonard Murphy: Alright, we could have a whole other conversation about that. So kind of segue. How did you go from? I want to be a rockstar, but don't necessarily have the Talent two being CEO of a research company, so

Hamish Brocklebank: So I got into research completely by mistake I think I find this with a lot of people in the research industry. We don't sort of end up there but we sort of end up with this very interesting intellectual problem solving space that I think draws a certain type of mind to it and I basically got in there by mistake. So I've done a couple of tech startups. My first one was in the education space a complete failure. but we did well for a bit.

The second one I set up an analytics company for focused on the movie and entertainment business back in 2015-2016 tracking social media when that was the mean obviously still is quite a big thing. We built quite a successful product...That's really how I fell into the market research space and then I sort of bizarrely got quite hooked in it and I sort of realized and as someone before we sell to YouGov, I will say I was so a little dismissive market...of the value of market research and the interest of market research and once you get into it, you sort of find how interesting it is how sort of the progress that you can make. The technology that sort of development effectively within it or what you can do is extremely interesting and that's basically yeah how I got into it.

What Makes Brox.AI Different

Leonard Murphy: Okay, very cool in. Yeah, I think that variations on a theme for most myself included. We're just like "Oh I'm doing this now' and "Oh this is really cool." Okay, So let's talk about Brox then so, we got the origin obviously your early stage company me saying it tell us about rocks and what's exciting and different about what you're doing now.

Hamish Brocklebank: Yeah, so I also and it might be worth just to talk a bit about the origin of Brox as well, so about two years ago...someone literally just pinged me and was like, have you seen this thing called gpt2, it's quite interesting and I started playing around with it. And started realizing that there's I say that the obvious first order things that it was going to have really big implications for analyzing data...and I initially went to the senior leadership team at YouGov and I said give me 10 million dollars and I want to go build basically something like Brox, quite a lot has changed since the initial nascent and they sort of were quite dismissive...So, they didn't give me the 10 million dollars that I wanted. So I handed in my notice and then working set up Brox and we started out.

Just focusing on this ability can we scale qualitative research which is a lot of people are doing it and it has a lot of massive implications...But, then where we sort of started to think through what are the implications actually if you scale qualitative research to a massive scale and then also what are the implications. One of the things that YouGov many other companies do extremely well is the connected data piece where you're connecting panelists with behavioral data and you're connecting panelists over a lifetime. And then what sort of happens when you have massive qualitative data connected data piece. What are the future implications of that that you can start building with LLM and LLM type tools?

And so we've ended up building that sort of foundational tool that does all this qualitative analysis at massive scale, but the interesting things are what has come out of it. And so the first thing that came out of it was this brand tracker that we've built so some different methodology all based off, tens of thousands of monthly qualitative interviews...The success of slack as it's made communication within organizations casual and so it's sped up the cycle of communication and information transfer, whereas email is it's much more formal mechanism. I think that the LLMs and AI give this capacity to make the conducting of market research a more casual operation.

The Future of AI in Market Research

Leonard Murphy: Yeah, no, that's okay. No, that's great. and I agree with you. I actually hadn't heard anybody put it quite that way around the casual component. And I think that is absolutely right I translated that into engagement. So when we make it an informal process in terms of the responded experience something that is just more intuitive and yeah what I think about these brands. Well blah, blah, blah. I expect that your engagement is very high within your panel. Is that pretty

Hamish Brocklebank: We do have a very high engagement. I'll also be saying blunt. We also pay our panel quite a lot of incentives, and for us but yes, we do have all panels we have these sort of concentric circles, but we have this quite large hyper engaged panel and it's also interesting because traditionally, in my previous life there were certain cohorts that were very difficult to engage with...But a lot of the sort of more old school companies we're seeing they really like the other interesting shift is we just brought on one client, with a big streaming service and I'm not allowed to name them sadly, but it's not the research not yet. Exactly but it's not the research team who have bought it. It's the business operations team and we're starting to see and going back to that sort of casual component from their client perspective from that asking questions getting answers back quickly. We're starting to see a lot of interest from the people who would in organizations be traditionally served by the market research using us not so much to rep...

Leonard Murphy: Okay. We are absolutely seeing that I'm not sure why this can be published but in the upcoming GRIT report or maybe currently GRIT published report. We found exactly that this restructuring of the insights user kind of ecosystem. So that is actually really gratifying to hear that you're discovering that because we're seeing it as a threat now, we're quantitatively taking his anecdote and…

Hamish Brocklebank: Wow.

Leonard Murphy: recognizing the same thing. So yeah huge implications for the industry and also a huge in my mind and we're gonna go over a 10 minutes audience. Sorry it's raw. It's making the pie bigger.

Hamish Brocklebank: Yeah.

Leonard Murphy: Right, the opportunity for companies like Brox or any insights player to tackle new business issues with a different audience is just going to make it far more accessible and democratize insights, which just grows our annual turnover overall. So I think it's a shift, but it's good shift that's going to help everybody. Yeah, all right. Well, I was going to ask what do you see is the trajectory to change over the next few years? I think we just touched on a piece of that but anything that you would add to if we assume what we just talked about broadening the democratizing of insights across of an organizations, AI is unlocking all types of stuff.

Hamish Brocklebank: Yeah. So I think the big one and I know I've got to be careful because I could talk about this for 30 minutes is I think the thing that a lot of people aren't thinking about should be thinking about a what are the second and third order effects the AI is gonna have to industries that's going to impact research...if you think about it, you can basically do research by dropping Facebook ads and dropping link like that's affected. You can see...whatever you get the idea. And so foundational research is going to be more important than ever, but it's going to be used in a way. I don't necessarily know what that way is going to be like but it's not going to be the same and it's going to be Vvery very different from anything we see now. So the ends you're gonna need the insights, but the application of those we're still trying to get our head around.

Keeping Up With AI Innovation as a Startup

Leonard Murphy: Yeah, okay. I agree. I used to say that the world would look something like a Minority Report. Hope about the negative components of that but the walking through the mall targeted, one-to-one individual advertising Big Data would do that not realize we needed AI to unlock that possibility and I still think that's probably directionally are going to be about right and again, hopefully without the kind of pre-cognition and pre-crime and…all the dystopian aspects of that but that's another conversation. So, last question as a startup and in this rapidly changing market, tons of innovation does every day it's something new especially in the world of AI...How do you keep up because you need to stay focused on keep your eyes n the prize but yet by your very nature you are embedded into this massively changing technological landscape. So how do you manage the two?

Hamish Brocklebank: The answer is very difficult to keep up the way we solve it is we are trying to build for what we think the future is going to look like in two years time and you a simple example of this. You're using LLMs they're rate limited. They're very expensive. There's one it's whatever you have. I think and the way we operate is we have to operate on the basis of what happens when the costs go down what happens when the LLMs get 100 times better or 10 times better, whatever whatever you want to say, whether we get AGI or whatever and you have to the way we approach it is we have a vision for what the future is going to look like and we are trying to build towards that future as opposed to try and being constantly reactive. Now, if our vision of the future is wrong, it might invalidate everything we built but if we're right, we'll have a head start on everybody else. And that's the only way honestly you can sort of manage it I find from an emotional perspective because every day I open up my Twitter and there's a new Claude of just put out Opus, which is even better and then Gemini and blah blah blah and here just release the model and the market research world. There's 20 new Innovations a day. So you sort of have to be. Slightly blinkers in one sense and not get distracted. But also realize that today you're building for two years down the line and then of course the previous point you then have to plug that in with how you think the macro world's gonna change. So it's been to try and keep your sanity. I think is the answer.

Leonard Murphy: Always a good thing always a good thing.

Hamish Brocklebank: Yeah.

Leonard Murphy: Some would argue that we're a little crazy to be in this industry to begin with but Hamish brilliant inspiring good stuff really appreciate the conversation. Where can people find you.

Hamish Brocklebank: So they can go on our website brox.ai or find me on LinkedIn or whatever and we're always happy to give demos and always happy to have chats like this doesn't have to be about work stuff. Just bigger macro trends always fun.

Leonard Murphy: Alright folks you heard it so go bug Hamish. Maybe he'll even play guitar for you at some point. So.

Hamish Brocklebank: If it's late at night, and I've had a whiskey or two I could be tempted but

Leonard Murphy: Okay, there we go. All then it's not the plan for that. So expect some late night phone calls. guys, thanks audience. Thank you. We'll be back with another edition of the CEO series soon. Thanks a lot. Take care. Bye bye.

To learn more about how Brox.AI is harnessing the power of AI to transform market research, visit brox.ai or connect with Hamish on LinkedIn.

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