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Sometimes, doing a bit of research can reveal an opportunity for a completely unexpected line of business. A few years back,  Shaemin Ukani and her business partner were hunting for ways to differentiate Arrow Professional Services from the legions of other recruitment firms. During their research, they uncovered a common pain point among several clients in the market-research industry: the difficulty of finding people to participate in focus groups. Might Arrow be able to help them?

“We examined which resources and talent we’d need to provide our clientele with the type of individuals they needed,” explains Ukani. “That’s when we decided it was a viable business solution.”

It was the right call; clients loved gaining access to these specialized services from a provider they already knew and trusted. After several successful projects, Ukani spun off Arrow’s market-research offerings into a separate division called Winning Research. The new arm provides in-house focus groups and runs a 75-seat call centre that performs both qualitative and quantitative market research.

Ukani calls the expansion the company’s “single greatest breakthrough.” And for good reason: Arrow has gained a healthy new revenue stream and landed illustrious clients such as the U.S. Democratic Party. If you were tuned to CNN in the leadup to the 2012 U.S. election, you’d have seen Arrow’s data on battleground states appear on the screen. Not a bad return on some good, old-fashioned brainstorming.

Arrow Professional Services is No. 2 on the 2013 PROFIT/Chatelaine W100. View the full list or read other success profiles.

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