Plymouth Venture Partners Invests in InContext Solutions

Plymouth Venture Partners Fund II, the Ann Arbor, MI-based growth-stage investment fund, announced last month that it led a Series C round for the Chicago-based InContext Solutions. The total value of the investment was not disclosed.

InContext Solutions is a market research firm that specializes in product simulations. Jeff Barry, a Plymouth Ventures partner, says that InContext has “arguably the best 3-D simulation technology,” and it’s the only company of its kind to have taken that technology online, where it can be streamed over the Internet to clients across the globe. Barry notes that InContext already has Fortune 100 companies as clients, including Kraft and Proctor & Gamble.

Barry says that, typically, if a company wanted to test customer reactions to packaging or pricing, a group of consumers had to be rounded up and brought to a company facility, where market researchers would hover with clipboards to capture their reactions. “That’s extremely costly,” Barry points out. Instead, with InContext’s technology, consumers don’t need to be brought on site thanks to 3-D virtual simulation, which Barry says reduces the cost of the endeavor by 90 percent and also speeds up the time it takes to gather feedback. “If I need 500 women from the Southwest between the ages of 40 and 50, all InContext has to do send them a link to the survey,” he adds.

InContext was an attractive investment to Plymouth Venture Partners because of its technological edge. “When they started in 2009, they had to educate customers how to use [the technology] to do market research,” Barry explains. “They don’t have to do that anymore. InContext has the lead, but eventually their competitors will get online, too. It’s really moving in that direction.”

Plymouth Venture Partners Fund II focuses on investing between $1 million and $4 million in small to mid-size companies across the Great Lakes region that have validated the functionality of their product. Barry, who describes the firm’s deal flow as strong,  says InContext is the second Chicago-based company the firm has invested in in less than a year.

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