Unveiling the hidden dangers of questionable market reports: a must-read for business owners and investors

‘Hello Sir, are you interested in the global time travel machine market and how it’s poised to be booming in the coming years? If so, it’s your lucky day, because I’m presenting you with a once-in-a-lifetime offer – a market report available to you for an unbelievably discounted price of only 3300 dollars.’

Global time travel machine forecast for sale

The anecdote above serves as an extreme example of a shady market research company. However, they are more concerning than amusing, as they can easily mislead anyone regarding the trends and expectations in any market segment.

In this post, we’ll guide you through the challenging landscape of questionable market reports. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be equipped with the tools to identify doubtful data and safeguard your decisions and investments.

Our experience in this field

At Absolvo Consulting, daily comprehensive market analysis is an integral part of our work. With a primary focus on the technology sector, we thoroughly examine market size and trend progression within a wide array of studies sourced from multiple channels. Our method involves delving beneath the surface to critically evaluate the underlying data. This rigorous analytical approach equips us to accurately assess demand for a company, its promising opportunities, predict potential deals, investor appetite or pinpoint regions with the most promising activity. Our standard procedure includes checking multiple market studies concurrently for each project. Consequently, we’ve identified anomalies in various market reports, shedding light on significant disparities in expectations and projections.

The case study revealing essential insights

During one of our projects, we conducted an examination of a niche market in the IT industry. The results of this analysis serve to vividly highlight the stark contrast between trustworthy and dubious market reports. We compared the forecasts provided by a single reputable research company (in green) with those offered by eight less reliable research firms (in red), and the findings are quite enlightening. In each row, the first value signifies the current estimated market size, while the second value denotes the projected market size.

Case study: market estimate discrepancies

In this specific niche market, the estimated market size was roughly four times greater when considering the average questionable research company in comparison to the evaluation of the industry expert. However, instances of extreme ‘over-estimations’ were also observed, with projections reaching levels 30 to 40 times higher than the actual market size. These exaggerated base market size estimates significantly influenced the forecasts. Consequently, even though the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is the highest in the case of the trustworthy firm, its projections remain the most conservative, resulting in the smallest anticipated market size.

Background checks are necessary

While in some cases, the forecast numbers themselves may raise a few eyebrows, most of the time, they aren’t that unusual. This is especially true when your rational sense is somewhat clouded by the hope of your niche segment being the one with the most significant growth potential. If you’re not relying on data from a renowned industry authority, it becomes crucial to conduct a background check on the source.

In our experience, well-founded research takes substantial staff and resources to produce, as extensive data acquisition and primary research is required for meaningful insights. Respectively, several renowned research companies are specialists in their selected fields, with a relatively narrow focus of industries.

This raises doubts about the credibility of relatively unknown companies that claim to offer an extensive collection of reports or claim to cover a wide range of industries. It’s also worth noting that dubious market research companies often target niche segments where reliable data is scarce or entirely unavailable.

Another key characteristic we’ve observed is that questionable market research firms tend to maintain a front-end presence in the EU or US, with their backend operations often situated in other geographic locations (e.g. several back-end operations of questionable research entities may be found in India, however, it’s important to emphasize that not every Indian market research firm provides dubious data). What’s particularly noticeable, though, is the consistent presence of market reports of dubious companies on the first pages of Google search results. This observation implies that they invest significantly in SEO services, ensuring their high visibility in search listings.

Negative consequences

Frequently, we come across mentions of dubious market reports within companies’ materials, such as pitch decks. This situation can be detrimental for both startups seeking investment and companies aiming to attract potential buyers. Inaccurate data has the potential to impact a company’s valuation and the expectations of its stakeholders, sometimes even leading to a deal falling through. Moreover, it can erode a company’s credibility in the eyes of investors who are aware of those market segments (with several active investments) or have conducted thorough research and identified exaggerated or inaccurate figures. Such discrepancies can somewhat tarnish a company’s professional image.

Conversely, investors can likewise experience adverse consequences resulting from an inaccurate approach. This could lead to overpaying for a company or having unrealistic expectations based on improper market projections provided by the seller. In light of these scenarios, it’s evident that using accurate, reliable data in company materials is mutually beneficial for both parties involved in a deal.

The vital takeaways

  1. Don’t put all your faith in the first Google search results.
  2. Always use multiple sources.
  3. Don’t immediately swallow the sugar-coated figures; seek data from credible experts.
  4. Always check the research company’s fields of expertise and background.
  5. Trust accurate forecasts for your industry as a whole rather than relying on questionable specific niche data.
  6. Only invest in reports when you’re absolutely certain of their authenticity.

The role of outbound approach in scaling – can you make it without?

MEETUP – Cold contacting, outbound efforts – a lot of founders, sales managers literally hate them, because it’s seen slow, providing low conversion – or don’t work at all, just burn money, time and motivation. What is the “truth-rate” of these statements? Is there a choice at all: can you scale and deliver an impressive growth to (also) your VC investor w/o an outbound approach, considering that your CEE local market is probably too small?

How (not) to make a first contact

If you are in business for at least a couple of years, you probably get lots of sales e-mails, LinkedIn connection requests and other types of messages that try to establish a relationship with you.

There are basically 4 types of people reaching out to you:

  • people you know/have met before
  • head-hunters who try to expand their candidate base
  • people who try to sell you something
  • those who are new in business or in a specific sector and are trying to build a network

In case I cannot identify, which of these categories people fall into, I send back a message asking them where we have met or what are the fields where we could co-operate. In some cases, if I have the time and energy, I am even more specific trying to figure out what could have been the idea behind the connection request.

In many cases what they reply is that we should „co-operate”. This, again, can mean many things:

  • in most cases this means they want access to my clients,
  • or they probably want to sell something to me, but do not dare to say this clearly, 
  • or just want to expand their connections (by the way this last one I don’t really get and never give a positive answer to, simply because if I don’t know someone, I don’t want to give the impression that we know each other, let alone worked together – this would be like contributing to fake profiles).

If I have had all the coffees offered to me with the promise of some vague future co-operation, I would have serious health issues by now. On the other hand, I make lots of good business through partnerships and connections, therefore I usually take the time and try to invest into building new partnerships. But as I grow old, I am more and more cautious.

Let me tell you a recent example of how NOT TO connect (and offer partnership). This one happened on LinkedIn, which is the number one platform for establishing a network. A guy with an HR background connected me a couple of weeks ago and I sent him back the usual message, even indicating that we have some co-operation models with people like him. He replied that it is nice to meet me, my profile is interesting, etc. and asked how I would imagine our co-operation. I sent him some examples, offered to have a call to discuss details and thought this might lead somewhere. After a couple of days, he shortly replied that he was not interested in such a co-operation. I was in a good mood, so asked back what would be then an ideal model for him, but he never replied again.

Let me translate this into a sales situation:

  1. you have a prospect whom you identified somehow
  2. you reach out him/her without a specific value proposition
  3. your prospect replies and offers ways you could sell yourself to him/her (this rarely, I mean never happens in real sales situations)
  4. you turn him down saying you are not interested
  5. ????

In most cases, if you want to grow your network, you HAVE TO make outbound efforts, establish new connections. You can do it via e-mail, but LinkedIn connection request is also a great sales tool – so please, use it as one!

Some basic advice on how to do it right:

Be specific!

Say why you are connecting someone, there is enough space there (on LinkedIn you can add a note to your connection request)!!!

Be relevant!

Please, take your time and try to think of why your prospect could be interested in talking to you! Remember, you reached out to him/her/me, we never asked for this message!

Don’t be afraid of rejection!

I know you reached out to me because you want something, these platforms are built for that reason. I will not buy your stuff because you only reveal it later or let alone at a personal meeting, unless it is really relevant (see point 2 above).

Though it sounds awkward at first, but be happy if someone, for whom your offer is irrelevant, turns you down quickly! The sooner it turns out you are not „meant for each other”, the better. Time is our only asset that you cannot scale and grow, so don’t waste yours, don’t waste mine!

If the prospect replies, rejoice and then answer!

Relationships and networks are built on trust. The first step to build trust is to show that you listen, you care. If you don’t reply, don’t expect these people to be open to you later on!


I know you can connect your other accounts, e-mail databases with other, e.g. social media platforms, but please, don’t use this feature (unless you have a very clear and up-to-date database)! Don’t spam me because 8 years ago I was in cc in an e-mail and your e-mail account remembers that!

 So be relevant, be persistent and good luck!

TheScaleupFest – International event on scaling

Key highlights of TheScaleupFest event - March 2020

TheScaleupFest is much more than just yet another startup event.

It is aimed to create a friendly place to learn, atmosphere and time for all stakeholders in the ecosystem to meet, share, get inspired, network and build their story in the most valuable way for their scaling and growing beyond CEE – together, successfully.

It is a place for startups, scaleups, investors and corporates where talented businesses, international experience, best practices and capital can find and impact each other. You will hear founders telling their growth stories, real international case studies, investors letting you know why one team succeeded and who they are looking for.

The Scaleup Fest is the 4th wave of VCs in CEE event series, co-organized by Absolvo, HVCA and HunBan –  this time powered further by HR Fest, the leading professional HR event and festival series in Hungary with 4 years history.

For more details about the event, topics, speakers please visit TheScaleupFest event website: https://thescaleupfest.com/

VCs in CEE 2019 – The scaleup journey

EVENT – Are you building a startup / scaleup and you are aspiring to become a regional or even global key player? Are you fundraising and want to meet international VCs, share your pitch deck with them and have the opportunity of an initial 1-on-1 meeting? If so, this event on 10th September 2019 is for you! We invite to Budapest and stage again international VCs and great CEE entrepreneurs to introduce you and share their experience, case studies and success stories – this time about the journey of scaling, challenges of global market entry, fundraising, and growing beyond CEE successfully.

VCs in CEE 2019 – The scaleup session

EVENT – Are you building a startup / scaleup and you are aspiring to become a regional or even global key player? Are you fundraising and want to meet international VCs? Or, are you simply interested in the investment and startup world of the CEE region? If so, this event on 26th March 2019 is for youVCs and entrepreneurs will share their experience, case studies, success stories, and discuss the challenges of global market entry and how to scale and grow beyond CEE successfully. We introduce again “new wave” of international VCs interested in the region.

VCs in CEE – Who’s next? International VC event

EVENT – Are you building a startup and aspiring to become a regional or even global key player? Are you fundraising and want to meet international VCs? Or, are you simply interested in the investment and startup world of the CEE region? If so, this event on 6th September 2018 is for you! We introduce you tomorrow’s industry scene, new international VCs willing to invest in CEE and Hungary. VCs and entrepreneurs will share their experience, case studies, success stories, and discuss the challenges of global market entry and how to grow beyond CEE successfully.