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Jim Jacobs is the Founder and CEO of Focus Insite, a leading market research firm specializing in qualitative recruitment services for various industries. The company takes on projects of diverse complexities and offers invaluable insights that help shape its clients’ business strategies.

With a strong background in sports, particularly hockey, Jim has leveraged his leadership skills on the ice and in the boardroom. Before founding Focus Insite, he worked in sales and management roles across multiple sectors. His blend of entrepreneurship and coaching has uniquely equipped him to build effective teams and nurture talent, consistently driving his company toward success. Jim’s dynamic approach to business and development led him to make significant contributions to the field of market research, establishing him as a respected figure in the industry.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [03:46] Jim Jacobs talks about Focus Insite and how it serves its clients
  • [09:23] How Jim transitioned from running a side hustle to a full-time business
  • [13:24] Focus Insite’s evolution of services since its inception
  • [17:33] The key talent Jim hired to grow his business
  • [19:38] What Jim does to instill culture in a remote setting
  • [21:49] The power of ask
  • [29:46] How Jim’s hockey coaching experience influenced his leadership style
  • [32:32] What Jim considers his business superpower
  • [37:18] Personal development resources Jim recommends

In this episode…

Building a business is like building a championship sports team — you need vision, strategy, and continuous development for success. But how can you discover the right strategies to grow your company?

As a hockey coach and business leader, Jim Jacobs combines his experiences to share unique insights on leadership that apply to the ice rink and the business world. His journey offers a distinctive lens on how the disciplines learned on the ice can translate to entrepreneurial success. Jim says sharing a clear vision can motivate a team and why ongoing training helps people grow professionally.

In this episode of the Inspired Insider, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Jim Jacobs, Founder and CEO of Focus Insite, to talk about the link between sports coaching and business. They also discuss the value of helping team members develop, the hurdles of running a business, and the rewarding experience of changing lives through leadership.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPOEOLending TreeFreshdesk, and many more.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Jim Jacobs of And Jim before I formally introduce you, I always want to point out other episodes people should check out of the podcast in you’re in EO and you’re always learning. I’ve had some amazing people from EO on my podcast. Robert Hartline grew his two companies actually software company, and actually grew a chain of cellphone stores to over $100 million and sold it and just a pretty amazing story. And so he did two episodes and really talks about productivity. And I’m not sure how he gets accomplished what he gets accomplished on. I had EO member at Adi Klevit, who does, she has a great podcast to check it out. But she does. SOPs for companies. She’s an easy button for a company to produce SOPs, so they can do things standardize and train their staff and make their business more saleable. And all that fun stuff. So check her out, check that episode out, we geeked out Jim on our favorite productivity, tools and software. So I still read listened to that one that many more. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we are an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast we do the accountability, the strategy and the full execution of production. So we call ourselves the kind of the magic elves that work in the background and make things look easy for the host. But they can sit back, relax, have the conversation and run their company. So for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should you have questions you can go to to learn more. And I’m excited to introduce Jim Jacobs, he’s founder of And they’re a nationwide leader in qualitative recruitment. And they’ve served companies like Adobe, Tesla, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, I can go on and on with the companies they serve. He has some amazing stories because he’s talking and they’re companies talking directly to the consumer, right. So that’s what consumer insights are. And they help these companies make big decisions, not off of guesswork, but actually coming from the consumer. So check them out, he started the business with a broken arm $20 Bill, and he made the Inc. 5000 play six on the Philadelphia Business Journal soaring 76 In terms of growth rate. He’s multi-talented, if you’re watching the video, you can see in the background, there’s this picture. And he’s also a hockey coach. And he coached Melbourne prep to a state championship for the first time in 17 years. And as I mentioned, he’s also a member of EO Entrepreneurs Organization attended Harvard and Wharton School of Business for the executive education. Jim, thanks for joining me.

Jim Jacobs  3:35 

Oh, thank you for having me. Pleasure to be on.

Jeremy Weisz  3:38 

So let’s start with, I described a little bit about Focus Insite, but tell people more about exactly what Focus Insite does.

Jim Jacobs  3:46 

No problem Focus Insite, what the heck is Focus Insite? What do we do? We are the nationwide leader in qualitative market research recruitment. So what the hell does that mean in English? Okay, so, fortune 500 companies, I mean, not only Fortune 500 companies of all sizes, they have huge decisions to make on how they market their product or service. And the key to that, is getting what people really think about that product, right? Interviewing people who use their product, or who don’t use their product. Why do you like it? What don’t you like about it? Right? So all those opinions, that information is extremely, extremely valuable to companies, do companies have you ever had one idea for some sort of marketing campaign, and have changed it, done one ad based on people’s feedback, and so that happens all the time. And that’s what we do is you supply the product we supplied to people, so companies or market research firms who need people to participate in studies. That’s what we do.

Jeremy Weisz  4:54 

We’re gonna get into that a little bit and people can go to your website, and I don’t know Do you have a lot of people join Winning the database because people can actually make money from doing this right?

Jim Jacobs  5:04 

Yeah. Yeah. That’s always fun for all my mentally hockey buddies and golf buddies like, yeah, public property beverages study, right, they get in, they get paid $150 to have drinks. Right. So this is online focus group online. So this is an absolutely a, I mean, there’s one EC on election we do on your everyday essential, so, yeah, for sure. So there’s always people who need different opinions on or who will pay you for your opinions on various different products out there, like you see, like virtual reality. That’s a neat one that we did. We did that years ago, where we did a big study for Oculus go where we shipped out three headsets for Oculus go, um, yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah. And then the, you know, the people got like, it gets 200 bucks, and they got a free headset. And the end client on that one was Facebook. And they were using data to say, hey, should we acquire the Oculus, Oculus go. Then six months later, I walk into Best Buy Christmas shopping, and all of a sudden at the Oculus go by Facebook. So it’s pretty neat. Like we did the whole study behind that.

Jeremy Weisz  6:22 

That’s awesome. Yeah. So I mean, obviously, companies can contact you if they want to get consumer insights. But consumers can go on your website, too, and possibly get opportunities as well.

Jim Jacobs  6:33 

Yeah, absolutely. Just, you just go in and sign up our database. And then when you qualify for a study, we’ll send out a link on email and you fill it out. And if you qualify, we’ll, that’s what we do. We’ll get you in. We’ll get you scheduled. And there you go. Right there. Join us battle. You got it.

Jeremy Weisz  6:52 

Awesome. Love it. Let’s talk about so go back.

Jim Jacobs  6:58 

Jeremy, come on, we’ll get you in something with that by…

Jeremy Weisz  6:59 

I’m going to. Are you kidding, like I would have been all over the Oculus, I bought one I could have got one for free and been in the study, come on. Like, I’m gonna check all those out. I’m not a big alcohol drinker. So I’m not like a good fit for that one. But I’ll check the other ones out. I’m gonna spread the word on that you want to make some extra cash. Go ahead. You go, you broke your arm. So what happened?

Jim Jacobs  7:24 

Oh, my God, I was you know, coaching hockey, the passion of mine. And I coached all different levels from the learn-to-play for five-year-olds, up to 18, and even some college. So I’ve coached all level certified role levels, and coaching little guys come from behind me, I fly near break my arm, had to get surgery. And I can’t drive for six weeks. So my former business was a commercial real estate broker. And you’re just you’re doing your all the time you’re at different properties, right? So you’re just driving all the roils I’m all over the place. And I couldn’t leave the couch. Right? Because I was in a sling and a cast and whatnot after the surgery. So a friend of mine had asked me if I wanted to be in a focus group on Facebook, they had a, a company doing this. And I was a member of Entrepreneurs Organization with them. And that was how it started. I ended up getting in that group. And I said, wow, this is probably something I could start as a side hustle while I’m, the real estate markets depressed, and I was chasing some commission that I was suing for. And little did I know, this met a few criteria that I liked, which was, had a recurring revenue stream, essentially. I mean, It’s project-based business. But once you acquire a client, you will do multiple products with the client as opposed to real estate where the one-off type sale. So it wasn’t an overnight thing. But it took a while. But I did see a huge potential in this. And that’s how I started Focus Insite.

Jeremy Weisz  7:24 

Talk about taking it from a side hustle to an actual business, because you start off with the mindset of is it just a side hustle, I just want to make some extra cash. And talk about just kind of evolution of turning that an actual business.

Jim Jacobs  9:23 

Yeah, sure. So it was just for some extra cash. And I had done a pretty big real estate deal. And the buyer and commercial real estate can be very cutthroat so the buyer and seller got together today before we were supposed to settle and they did settlement without me. So I had a pretty sizable fee. And because it was a it was a transaction that took over two years to conduct by the time you had environmental testing. It was a lot of factors to it very complex transaction and at the end they both decided, well, we’re going to remove him from  the picture and the seller can make more money and the buyer can get it for cheaper price. So get rid of the broker who put the whole thing together and kept the whole thing together. So what happens if you don’t get paid, and then I had to pay an attorney upfront, in order to chase money that actually gotten. And then at the end of the day, when you do get it, it takes a year, 18 months later, and you’re paying four or five grand in the attorney, and then you’re settling for 50 cents on the dollar, if you’re lucky, usually a lot less than that 30, 40 cents, and so I was doing that. And so I was doing the side hustle to pay the attorney, right, just to pay attorney fees, and just kind of the other side. And then one thing became another one thing became another, and then they call me and they had a huge study on macular degeneration, which I didn’t even know what it was. But I was able to look it up and the piece of equipment that they were testing was like a $3 million piece of equipment. And they wanted that. And they needed a very specific target that no other company could get. And they needed ophthalmologists. Right, but they wanted some who had fellowships and whatnot. So lucky for me, one of the guys who I played hockey with, he had just graduated ophthalmology school. So I had gotten a list of all the recent grads, fellows and things like that. So we were able to fill a study that no one else was able to fill. And then they ordered a whole second round, they were so happy of it. I’m so happy about it. And then I got to check right away in two weeks. So I said, wow, you know what I mean, like, why am I chasing money over here? I didn’t get paid right away here. And my phone kept ringing off the hook for us to recruit people. And I said, You know what, this is a business. I think I could scale. So that was when I said, you know what, I know it sounds nuts. But I’m gonna go full in here and make this happen. And it’s been a great ride ever since.

Jeremy Weisz  12:04 

What was another client that you remember? Not that I’ve made it, but that you remember, you’re especially proud of?

Jim Jacobs  12:13 

Oh, well, you know what, it was, probably the biggest one was Pinterest. When we first signed Pinterest, because we got on the preferred vendor list, which was very extensive. And that was neat, right? Because that’s an app that everyone has an iPhone, everyone knows. And now we have a bunch of those. But it’s really neat once you start landing those, the Fortune 500 Fortune 1000 internet, like, wow, so because this went from an idea to now we have extensive vendor paperwork and lawyers filling us out. So there’s a whole bunch of them. But we’ve done stuff major cosmetics. I mean, there is we could walk through your office or through your house, and I got the product. Oh, yeah, we’ve done this. Yeah, we worked on that. So that’s pretty neat. But yeah, I think the first big one was, was Pinterest. What we were able to start working with that. That was really neat.

Jeremy Weisz  13:11 

Jim, you started with one service and your services have evolved a bit? Can you talk about just a little bit of the evolution of the services from when you first started till now? Because you offer several different things?

Jim Jacobs  13:24 

Yeah, well, I mean, our bread and butter is qualitative recruitment. Right, which all that means is, you need 50 People who like to dine at Chili’s, or whatever it is, like, we will find those people. And I mean, I’m making it super simple on the consumer side, but some of them are very technical, like we’ve done. The big thing right now is chatGPT. Well, the past few years, that’s all we’ve gotten is, hey, we need to speak to data scientists, we need to speak with people about machine learning. Right? So that was a very specific discipline that we could get that people had a hard time getting to recruit for as panels, and now you see all the AI coming out, and we were kind of recruiting for a lot of different AI studies years ago. Right? So yeah, so the qualitative recruitment store our bread and butter, but a lot of our bigger clients want to come to us for the whole kit and caboodle. So, we offer transcription, translation, some of those things but 95% of our business is qualitative recruitment for sure.

Jeremy Weisz  14:33 

I did a series on because I really tend to geek out on direct response marketing and copywriting and so I had a stint of some of the top copywriters, direct response marketers and they say, the way they produce amazing content writing copy is asking the customer and, putting those insights in the customer’s world into the copy. Right? And that’s basically, you’re getting these direct insights from the consumer. I’d love to know one of these market research studies and what you found that was interesting. I know one of them we were chatting out before we hit record was it was apple. So can you can you talk about that one?

Jim Jacobs  15:19 

Well, that was one. And we’ve done a few different things with the iPhones or whatnot. And this is just a story that’s been told to us. We didn’t actually do this one. But when Apple was doing the iPod, okay, they didn’t know what colors to make it. And they had different groups, and people were like, yellow, really yellow, and everyone decided on yellow. And then when you left, you got to pick one of the many colors of iPod to keep and you get for participating. So everyone picked white. That’s the first slide. But what if there’s a story that was told to the conference, I thought that was pretty neat.