When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, agencies were forced to scramble in order to account for the unavailability of in-person interaction. By 2021, with the world still stuck in limbo, 81qd decided that working in the so-called new normal was just fine. 

To hear 81qd managing director Bob Gabruk tell it, the pivot to remote work served as a way to optimize every-
one’s time.

“There are a lot of productivity savings, as long as you’re able to retain and build the relationships with customers, employees and partners,” he explains.

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Gabruk believes 81qd, a data and analytics specialist shop, came out of it in fine shape. It grew revenue by 22% in 2021, to $15.5 million from $12.7 million in 2020.

He says the gains can be attributed in part to 81qd’s “mature startup” mindset — think the nimbleness of a new enterprise paired with the tried-and-true methods of a legacy organization.

“We’re constantly going through this cycle of reinvention when we get these breakthrough opportunities to do something different,” Gabruk explains. “Over time, we operationalize those solutions and mature them, and then we move on to the next thing.”

81qd’s client roster includes a host of pharma heavy-hitters, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novartis. The agency added 18 new project-based clients in 2021, driving its total to 75 by the end of the year.

Like many of his agency-leader peers, Gabruk ranks talent acquisition and retention among his top challenges. While individuals with genuine data and analytics experience remain hotly in demand in the medical marketing world, 81qd has credibility to spare among such workers. After all, 81qd has been doing this since 2007, nearly a decade before many other agencies joined the data revolution.

In any event, the company did fine on the personnel front in 2021. It added nine people and finished the year with 38 under its roof by playing up the opportunity to work at the intersection of healthcare and technology, Gabruk says.

“That’s how we’ve tried to manage things. We didn’t get into the war around compensation,” he notes.

In the months and years ahead, look for 81qd to continue to push analytics-driven strategies that incorporate the human element. While AI has taken off in recent years, human intelligence is where Gabruk believes 81qd differentiates itself.

“We bring together these cross-functional teams that bring the human intelligence around diseases and filter it through our medical strategists and our data and analytics team,” Gabruk explains. “Clients are gravitating toward our story, which we think is hugely important in this day and age.”

As for the agency’s mysterious moniker, Gabruk laughs when asked about its origin. At the time the company was brainstorming names, it was believed that a low dose of aspirin — specifically, 81 milligrams per day — would help maintain heart health. In a pharmacy, the acronym “QD” stands for once-per-day.

Hence a brand was born: 81qd every day leads to a healthier business.

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Work from outside pharma you admire…

Amazon. The company meets three fundamental needs of stakeholders (e.g., customers and suppliers), including broad selection, reasonable prices and fast delivery. In order to provide a terrific stakeholder experience, Amazon leverages analytics across all aspects of the business process, from predicting the products customers will want next to offering the best portfolio of products to optimizing the delivery of those products. — Gabruk