Online Research Firm Thrives In New Orleans

Major brands routinely poll sample audiences in online surveys, and they often hire firms to deliver sample data, such as: yogurt-buying habits of 1,000 West Coast women in the 25- to 54-year-old age bracket. In that online space, New Orleans-based Federated Sample has emerged as a major player through its flagship Fulcrum software.

Federated Sample delivers efficient, transparent, automated results to the industry by directly connecting buyers and sellers. CEO Patrick Comer uses an analogy to describe what his company leverages with Fulcrum.

“Years ago, if you were planning to fly somewhere,” he explained, “you could contact a travel agency to purchase tickets or search each airline to compare prices. At Federated, we built ‘Expedia.’ We have a centralized platform to find the sample information you need in one place. Our clients love it because it’s easy and the end-users are assured the information is accurate.”

In 2013 alone, more than 200 supply partners in 65 countries delivered approximately 10 million samples using the Fulcrum platform.

Comer and Federated Sample’s history is certainly a tech story success. He worked in Los Angeles for OTX Research, one of the nation’s largest online sample brokers. After discovering the company would be acquired, Comer left to develop and market his own sampling software to brokers and agents. The Alabama native could have opened shop anywhere but chose to move back to the South and New Orleans, where his wife grew up.

In 2010, Comer launched Federated Sample with $350,000 in seed money and hired 10 people his first year. In 2011, he raised more than $2 million in new investment capital and leveraged Louisiana’s Angel Investor Tax Credit, which offers up to a 35 percent tax credit on early-stage capital funded by accredited investors. In March 10, 2014, the company celebrated its fourth anniversary with 50 employees.

“Through research, I knew that the New Orleans market had the resources and the talent to support a tech company like Federated Sample,” Comer said. “Four years later, we are proud to be playing a huge role in supporting the growing technology community in the city and state.”

Comer is impressed by what he’s seen in Louisiana the past five years. California firms are now recruiting in New Orleans, but local companies like Federated Sample are able to offer candidates competitive salaries. The pay, combined with Louisiana’s culture and affordable cost of living, is attracting out-of-state tech talent while convincing highly talented locals to value their home.

“There is a very strong sense of community here in New Orleans and that is ingrained in the technology sector, too,” Comer said. “It’s another one of the places in Louisiana where we are seeing ‘brain gain’ and I look for this to continue to grow.”

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