The history of our company goes back to 1996, when the first retail chains began operating in Poland. Sebastian Starzyński, then a third-year student of the Warsaw School of Economics, noticed that there were few entities on the market capable of delivering operating data for innovative trade. This was when SESTA Badania Marketingowe began to operate, striving to respond to such needs. To his initiative he invited other students. Since most of them returned to their hometowns during weekends, they could collect data in local shops. This is how the first interviewers network developed, supported by an analyst, who was Sebastian’s next door neighbour.
At the time, the entire company was in my briefcase. Every Monday, we would meet in Aula Spadochronowa of the Warsaw School of Economics, collect completed questionnaires and work out a plan of action. I remember that I spent the first money I earned on a company fax machine, which allowed us to send subsequent offers more effectively, recalls Sebastian Starzyński, founder and current CEO of ABR SESTA.
At first, we only offered price, distribution and promotion surveys for large multinationals. We also cooperated with other research agencies as a regional coordinator. In 1998, we introduced consumer qualitative and quantitative research, which enabled us to dynamically develop in subsequent years. The student project had already grown into a meaningful business. We set up a civil law partnership and moved to a professional office, in which we soon hired a team of ABR SESTA analysts. All this resulted in first large, long-term cooperation contracts.
I feel nostalgic about the moment when, all of a sudden, we began receiving questionnaires from 200-300 audited shops. The entire company, including directors, stayed late into the night, manually entering data and analysing it on worksheets, recalls Anna Ruman, the current Head of Sales in ABR SESTA.
In 2004, we launched a pioneering product, NPVO, i.e. non-participant video observation, and in the subsequent year, we started offering sales data analyses. Thanks to skilful management by our leaders, we survived the financial crisis in 2007-2009, already as a limited liability company.
Despite harsh turbulences and cost-cutting by our largest Clients, we never stooped investing in innovations. In 2009, we signed agreements on co-financing of two projects from EU funds, which enabled us to implement further innovative technological solutions. We launched an original on-line reporting system and advertising leaflets monitoring. Our interviewers were equipped with palmtops with bar code scanners and a point of sale auditing application. Recently, we introduced neuromarketing research and, currently, we are actively developing the Big Data and Machine Learning department, which helps companies introduce artificial intelligence in their business.
Since 2014, we have been cooperating with foreign clients, using our knowledge and experience to support other markets in Europe. Our greatest ambition has always been to keep developing, which has made us one of the leading research agencies in Poland. We hire over 40 top class specialists while the presence of founders and long-term employees allows us to retain the family nature of the business.