Get to Know: Jay Richards, founder of Imagen Insights
We hear how the Soho Works member hopes to shape Gen Z's future with his market research startup
Jay Richards is the cofounder and CEO of Imagen Insights, a startup based in London’s Shoreditch that enables agencies and brands to source ideas and insights from its community of Gen Z consultants. NFL, Culture Trip, eBay, and PepsiCo are some of the big-name brands that have sought out Imagen Insights for feedback on campaign ideas and other research. Richards has been recognised as a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur, and believes his business has the potential to help shape Gen Z’s future, influencing how brands operate in the world one organisation at a time.
We chat to Richards about his background and hear how his fledging business is already beginning to make waves.
What’s your background and when did you start Imagen Insights?
‘I come from an innovation and sales background. I’ve always loved working on new technologies and helping to sell them to brands that truly need them. I cofounded Imagen Insights in September 2019 when the NFL came to us with a qualitative research challenge that they couldn’t find a solution for.’
You mentioned in an interview that you had a rebellious start to life. What happened and how did that shape you?
‘How do I put this nicely… I was good at being bad at school. I loved rounding up all the badly behaved (or just misguided) students and getting them to break the rules for or with me. I wasn’t really into gangs in the typical sense as it wasn’t a quick way of making cash, but any kind of money-making scheme, I was there for it.’
Tell us about Imagen Insights and how you work for big brands such as Amazon Prime Video, PepsiCo, and Sky.
‘Many brands come to us and our Gen Z community because they want to understand how that demographic specifically wants to engage with them as a brand. Whether that’s a monthly qualitative review of their Instagram and TikTok channels across various international markets, or helping an FMCG brand to develop a completely new product from the ground up, we can do it all. We developed both our community and technology ourselves, so there pretty much isn’t anything we can’t do.’
What do you think defines Gen Z?
‘They’re activist, co-creating, digital natives who truly want to leave the world better than they found it. They want to create cool sh*t with cool people, and they know that the internet is the best way to make this happen.’
What’s your favourite Soho Works?
‘180 Strand; I love people and it’s always full of amazing human beings to talk to. But Soho Works at the Tea Building Studio is so convenient, as a door goes straight through into the Shoreditch House gym.’
Tell us about how you came to be a Forbes 30 Under 30 and what it means to you.
‘One of our team put me forward and I was selected – sorry, I wish there was some mad story behind it. It was super exciting to be on the list, but I’m not really a list person; I just want to add value to people and make sure my children’s children get a start in life that’s infinitely better than mine was.’