Today, my guest is Dyna Boen, President of Market Research at Survata. Survata offers a technology platform that informs business decisions used by today’s top brands including GameStop, Clorox, Gartner, and Disney. Dyna is a serial entrepreneur who has worked in all aspects of the marketing research space.
FIND DYNA ONLINE:
FIND US ONLINE:
Hi. I’m Jamin Brazil and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. Today my guest is Dyna Boen, President of Market Research Survata. Survata offers a technology platform that informs business decisions used by today’s top brands, including GameStop, Clorox, Gardner and Disney, my favorite brand of all time. Dyna is a serial entrepreneur who has worked in all aspects of the marketing research space. Dyna, thank you so much for joining me today on Happy Market Research Podcast.
Thank you for having me, Jamin. I would say that I’m a Happy Market Researcher.
I love it.
So very smiley, happy market researcher. So I’m glad to be here.
We all are, we all are as long as we’re making a payroll. What we found is our audience is really interested about what Survata is doing today, what you specifically – how you are specifically fitting in. But what I’m really digging is the background of what got you here. So could you tell us a little bit about what it is that your parents do and how that’s informed what you’re doing today?
Yes, absolutely. Well, my dad was an auto broker and he was in the car industry. And so, he’s a very dynamic sales person. He’s your quintessential car guy and I grew up with him owning his own business. SO also an entrepreneur. And so what he did was he bought fleets of rental cars from Hawaii and then sold them as used cars all over the mainland. And so for me, I got to travel with him, which going on a business trip to Hawaii is like how I thought business was done growing up. I’m a little spoiled. I’m looking back and I’m like wow, that was really fortunate. But I would get to travel with my dad when I was on school breaks and sit on business dinners that he was having, and just a lot of it was observing the way he did business in the Pacific Rim and my mom was a teacher and an educator. So my parents were always very supportive of education.
The sales side of things that your dad had, that sounds like directly it fed into, obviously, your marketing background. Did he use TV, radio, et cetera or was he more network-based distribution?
He was more network-based distribution I would say. We’re very similar in that we’re very – just social animals, both of us are. We like to talk to people, we like to network, we like to build relationships. And that to me, whether it’s Survata or in the market research industry, that’s what I enjoy most. We all spend a lot of time at work. My daughter will sometimes call me a workaholic, but it’s because I love my job and I want that to be an example to her, that you can be a professional and love what you do, and it’s about the people that you spend your time with every day, and life is short and we spend a lot of time at work. So if you can surround yourself by wonderful people and partners, and colleagues that support you and support them, I think that’s pretty good life.
Yes, no more Mondays. So I was, I had a conversation with John Dumas, entrepreneur on Fire is like one of my aspirational podcasters. Got about a million listeners, million listeners, what I mean by that. He said, “Jamin, every day for me is Saturday.” That’s right, literally. I woke up this morning early, I couldn’t wait to get in the car, come down here, meet you face to face, have the conversation. It’s just like when you love what you do and you love the people that you do it with, it makes all the difference.
Yes, I agree. And, you know, Saturday is my most energetic day of the work week, which sounds really strange, but I go to the gym and I’m on the elliptical catching up on everything that didn’t happen during the week and it’s my catch up. So I tell my team, “Don’t feel compelled to respond. I’m getting back to you.”
But I think it’s the time when I think most about social media posts and blog posts, and just I don’t know. I think it’s because you’ve got a little bit of space for yourself and my mind goes to business a lot of times in a fun way.
Do you think the Saturday mornings, I’m going to call it three hours, do you think that, it could be more, it could be less, but do you think three hours of work, that invest that? That has a bigger lever of what you get done during the week? Do you think that three hours actually equals a whole day?
Sometimes in terms of just quiet get things done work and thought time, absolutely. I also think that, my observation is – I’m not unusual in that regard, I actually think that certainly in the market research industry, a lot of executives use that time because you’re used to getting up early anyway. And so, you’re up and you’re family is still sleeping in or doing their thing and it kind of gives you that quiet time with your coffee that’s not your regular work day to do that. So it’s pretty, pretty common actually. And I’ll out Kristin Luck, but Kristin Luck and I sometimes will be late night on a Saturday or at Friday night and we’re like, “Look at us, emailing now.”
Yes, no, you know. Not trying to set an example there at all, but you know those Friday nights you have on occasion. Hopefully, not every Friday night.
I do, I do. Kristin and I have had – she’s my work wife so to speak. I really always say that in the industry and we’re not two sides of the same coin. We’re literally the same side of the same coin. And so, yes, [CROSSTALK] those Friday nights.
Yes, work wife and work husbands, yes, I had several of those I think in my past.
Let’s talk a little bit about your background. Nursing, super interesting. How is the healthcare? So you were originally going into nursing?
So I started out going into nursing. I have to tell you, self admitted, I’m not the most nurturing person. If someone says a Band-Aid in my family, I’m like get it yourself.
I love it.
They are like, “But I’m bleeding.” I’m like, “Then stop it.”
Put the light pressure and get it yourself.
Yes, while I think of myself as a nurturing business mentor, maybe not so much on healthcare side. So I decided to pivot and go into business. But you asked about my parents earlier, I grew up with a dad that said “Hey, you should grow up to be a teacher or a nurse.” And that sounds a little bit old school, Archy Bunker I think.
But he wasn’t saying it because he was trying to restrict my choices as a woman. It was because he thought that that would be a successful path for me. But I didn’t want to be a teacher or a nurse. And so, I went into healthcare, but what I really loved was business. And what happened is when I transferred over to the business healthcare program, the business school at Oregon State was sponsored by Hewlett Packard and we had state of the art technology. Our technology was all of the newest stuff that the business world didn’t even had yet. So as a function of the time and space I was in, when I came out of school, I had technology skills that were beyond using the software and the hardware, beyond what was in the business world. And so, I took in that direction. I took healthcare and went into healthcare technology.
Interesting. I wonder how much of that – because you were able to see maybe a year or two, maybe even three or five in some cases, because I know especially in medical kind of education, it’s not like they are on the cutting edge of technology usually. They are usually using older stuff.
That’s right, yes.
So having that view, did it enable you to identify gaps in ways they could do better in using technology or more modern technology?
I think I hit the job force at a time where everything was still moving from, you know. In some cases I would be doing code into a green screen to put networks in place for hospitals and everything was moving to Windows interfaces. So, I was going in, replacing systems in hospitals with Windows interfaces and making it easier for people. But that was new to that world. It was something I’ve been doing for years in school. And so, I came out – at that time, I was a young woman, I choose technology. Nobody was really doing that. Most of the people I was working with were older IT guys, fantastic mentors by the way, but I was just very different in that. And here I am, fresh out of school, first person at the company I work for to get a laptop to use in the field. Like at that time, if you remember back, late ’90s, it was still computer consoles in businesses that everybody shared, printers that everybody shared. So today I think about Google, Women In Coding and its thing now to be a female engineer in Silicon Valley. And I’m not an engineer, but there’s so much more for women in terms of supporting them in technology today and at the time, I was just trying to figure it out because it would just happened to be something I’m interested in.
And I think everybody in those days, those super early days were just trying to figure it out. There was – the application of technology reflect on the ’90s and 2000s, and really the last decade that we’re getting ready to close soon, it feels like it’s very unstructured and then all of the sudden, I want to say in ’99, you know, X, triple XML formats came out for market research, data structures, that actually informed us in the industry of how single selected, multi selected question should be coded digitally. And so you see this structure that keeps getting narrower and narrower, which is one of the reasons why, I know that you’re involved in Wire, Kristin Luck’s organization, God, this is turning into podcast about Kristin Luck, it’s so important, is because as I think things are getting narrower and narrower, we need to make sure we’re more and more inclusive as we continually see in the data. The more diverse the teams are, the higher probability of success and the greater the outcomes. So, to shift gears a little bit. If you were young professional wanting to get a job in Survata or another insights based organization, whether it’s a brand or agency side, what are some of the steps in order to secure your job?
Well, it’s kind of interesting I think because I just did get a new job. Survata is very real. It’s real for me and it’s real for young people. I think I’ve done three interviews for young people for Survata coming out of school. And so, I would say for any of us looking for a job, people always say networking, but networking is really important and fostering relationships. As it relates to young people coming out from school, number one for me is attitude, just a good attitude. You can bring somebody with a good attitude in the room and it lifts everyone in the room up. And if you have somebody that has not so good attitude that brings everyone in the room down. And I like things to be up, I like upbeat. We have hard days, but attitude is how you get through those hard days. So attitude is by far number one. Number two is willingness to get there and roll up your sleeves, and be part of the solution. And so, stylistically as a leader, I’m roll up your sleeves leader. I’m player, coach operator because that’s what I’d like to do. I like to get there and be part of the team, and co-sales and work together and do things together. So, I look for team members that come on board to Survata that want to be part of that. I want to say the thing that is fingernails on a chalkboard to me when I’m talking to candidates or even people young in my career is, “Well, that wasn’t in my job description.” And when I hear that, I’m like oh, my Gosh. I don’t know if that’s going to work because I think back of the job description I had at Market Tools when it was a startup, and it was like it wasn’t in my job description. I came on board to be implementation manager, I moved out to General Mills to run a remote team, I was kind of a client service person at that point/implementation manager that went on to lead sales, that went on to start the central region for Market Tools and all of those things build my career in market research and none of those things were in my job description, none of them, not one. And so, I – you know, the thing too that I would say is some day it’s your job to be a C-level executive and other days it’s your job to just take out the garbage. If you’re entrepreneur, you’re the janitor and the CEO, and everything in between. And so it’s really about not to feel entitled. I just spot that degree so I don’t do that. We all do that, whatever that is, to get through the day to work together, to have a team culture. And so, I would say that that for me, it’s the attitude that it’s just willingness to jump in and I love people that make mistakes of action. It’s the inaction, when you do nothing, something clearly had to be done, but you did nothing. If you did something and the client or your team member sees that you’re trying. You might not be perfect, you might not be all the way there yet, but you’re trying. Anybody that I see that’s trying, that’s rolling up their sleeves and getting there is somebody who I want on my team.
So much to talk about.
A lot there.
I want to hone on two things, attitude, attitude, attitude. You’ve got to bring it to the table. Like if you’re the kind of personality where when you come in you’re looking at receiving, it’s going to be tough. But when you enter into conversation and you show up to work Monday morning even if you were out Sunday night, you need to expect you’re giving your energy to the room. That is huge, the impact. And one thing I really want to hone in is as you went through the – I would call it the accidental job promotions at Marketing Tools, and that would be nothing to –
It’s absolutely true. Yes.
Not only did you not say, “My job description has not changed or that.” And I’m hypothesizing here. So please if I’m wrong, correct me. It would be a normal course in the show, you probably did not say, “Hey, I need to be paid more money.”
I was, you know, I even talked to some folks on my team about that recently. It’s interesting conversation, the conversation of title and the conversation of money, because they are just practical realities, they are just practical realities of your cost of living, of paying the bills and things, they are practical realities of how people view you inside and outside the industry, you know, it’s just our culture. But most of the jobs I’ve done, I was already doing the job before I got the title and before I got the raise, and before I got the commission check, and whatever. It was like, “Yes, I deserve that.” But the things to get to that point were already happening. And I think as a young person coming out of school, that’s just misnomer that all of us as leaders need to mentor people on, which is hey, it’s not like you get the promotion and then you level up your game. When I get the promotion, now I’m going to act more like an executive or now I’m going to act more like a manager. No, no, no. You’re doing these things already and when somebody sees that in you, you’re like yes, I want that person to be in charge and I want them to have the title and have the appropriate salary, and you’re happy to give it to them because you’re like, “You deserve it,” and you’re rooting for them.
And with Wire or even with any of my mentees, whether they are through Wire or not through Wire, or people from my team, you can start to see the signs of people that you know are on the C track. You can just see that and be like I’m betting on that person, I’m betting on them and I’m betting on them too. It’s fun. And I would say, I know I’d mentioned Wire, but I’d say that’s true of women and men and that’s really important for me to call out, is I’m an equal opportunity mentor and I’ve mentored both men and women throughout my career, and it’s true for both of them, attitude and doing the job before you get the title.
So you talked a lot about the values you have with the characteristics. Do you look at LinkedIn? Is the resume important?
I feel like I should say yes, but no, it’s not. I’m an in person person.
Totally. Let me back up. How do they get the interview? Like are you interviewing everybody that applies?
Actually, at Survata the people that are interviewing right now, my managers are putting them forward.
So they’ve already done some of that work.
They’ve already done some of the work. So I would say on the LinkedIn comment, yes, LinkedIn is important to me. I think being mindful of your public persona is important at this day and age. I call it public is the new private. If you don’t have a picture of yourself on LinkedIn, what’s wrong with you? They are shady. Why don’t they have a photo? You have more people, more privacy when people see that who that person is. There’s a little bit of that. But I think it’s important too, we’re in market research, it’s a function of marketing and the person and the thing you should care about in marketing the most is yourself when you’re looking for a job especially. So at Survata, something that we’re working on, and I won’t go into too much detail on this because it will be a little bit of our secret sauce, but we’re working on social selling strategy. And so, you’ll see more of that over the coming months, but you guys know me, that I like to social sell and it’s part to connecting to people beyond San Francisco and across the world. But also for my team of young people that are new to their careers or to anyone who’s in their careers, is how do we lift each other up. And it’s about hey, it’s your turn to write your blog post this month and it’s about creating thought leadership, it’s about using our networks to raise each other up. So, LinkedIn is important and people on my team have been cleaning up their LinkedIns and their Twitter, because they know this thing is coming.
So yes, LinkedIn is an important part of looking for a job and that right out of school you should be – we had an intern this summer from Duke University and her LinkedIn, I would have loved to have that LinkedIn coming out of college, but his last day at Survata, I was like, “The number one thing you need to do today is send every person in this company a recommendation request to write you a recommendation because you’re going to come out of Duke with an internship at a Silicon Valley startup with these people that have loved all the great things you did for us this summer.” If you’re at school and you’re doing internships, start building that up, you know.
I love that. That’s so important. Because I’m old, you’re not, but I’m old.
Thank you. That’s generous of you.
So, after 20 years working in this industry after leaving Focus Vision as a CEO in September last year and kind of stepping into this I didn’t know exactly what, I’m like I know the CEO of that company and the CMO of this company, and so on and so forth, the CPO, and so on and so forth. I’m like that’s so weird because I remember when we were bootstrapping 18 years ago, you know, they were project managers and partners. You know what I mean?
Yes, I do.
And then as time progresses, those relationships that you’re building when you’re literally on the trenches on Christmas Eve trying to solve the problem, that pays forward. It’s like compounding interest on steroids, right?
Yes, I believe that. I call it – I talk a lot about the Market Tools mafia because –
Yes, this is great. [CROSSTALK] I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. This is a great point.
I talk a lot of mafias in general in a good way. So, the Market Tools mafia, and everybody that’s listening that worked with me at Market Tools knows this is near and dear to my heart. And that team of people, we’ve built – I was there for 12 years. So we’ve built I think all of the best leaders that I know in the industry that went on to different things were at that company at one point in time. And so, as I think about that, there’s a strong network of people that supports each other, that recommends each other, has networks. I’m having lunch tomorrow that was Market Tools mafia at all the different companies sample technology research. And so, it’s about going through the trenches with somebody and you see this with any business. When you’re building something together, you become family and you have good times and bad times, but whatever they are, they all make you stronger and connect to you. We do that as people. That’s why I think people in the military are so tight. You see that. So you see that in the military, you see that in work environments when people are starting companies. But there’s other mafias out there. There’s the Decipher mafia out there, there’s GreenField mafia, there’s the Research Now mafia. You think about all of these companies that were build as market research emerged and I get to watch all these people that went on to build their own companies. We are sort of managers or directors, or you know, tier two executives that have all said, “Hey, I want to go out and build something, and take a shot at it.” No matter what that outcomes looks like, you’re rooting for that person that’s just gone out there and taken a shot at it. I’ve kind of digressed.
I love that.
But that network is also a LinkedIn network.
And it starts on day one as you walk into the room, which is why it’s so important people get energy and not take it, because how you behave when you’re 23 and 24, and getting paid is how you’re going to be perceived 20 years later.
And Survata team is that energy right now.
You get it when you walk in.
So we’re in the middle of a build. There was a team early on that was just rock and rolled through series A. And then I get to come on board at this really exciting time when it’s just closing series B and help grow the business at that time. And so, we’re in the middle of another one of those things, I just love that feeling, and I look at everyone at that team and I remember when I was at that level at Market Tools and it was pre-married, pre-babies, pre-you know, manager director titles, C-level title, all of that and we were all entrepreneurs, and I look at this team and I’m like this is so exciting. You don’t even know what you’re in for. Like fasten your seat belts.
And that’s the best part of age. We were talking, probably the best skill that I have is pattern recognition, you know. So it’s great. And then what’s going to happen, because you know that there’s these floodgates of cashing. And I was around at the ’90s, I lived through the “.com” crash with my company. That is going to happen again at some point, that is going to happen and we’re going to react. It’s totally different, right? You don’t have to go through it the first time.
Yes, it’s interesting. I was reflecting on the first.com bust and the Market Tools because I think one of the questions you guys have sent me was about Survey Monkey, right?
And so, I think back to all – Survey Monkey and what happened between Market Tools and Survey Monkey. It’s like Harvard Business Review case. Some of it is just classic stuff, but when you’re in the middle of it, it’s really hard to see the forest through the trees.
And so, Market Tools, we were the first online survey platform and that was Zoomerang, DIY, won lots of awards for that in the years 2000.
Zoomerang, closed if I remember correctly, around ’99. Gosh, over $20 million in funding I think. It was a big, big round in those days.
In those days, right?
It was the high flying days and –
And definitely, the dominant – just because of the audience because maybe they don’t know, but they were the dominant force in the DIY survey platform.
They were the [CROSSTALK]
Yes, and my job actually, when I came on board, similar timing actually of coming on board at Survata, at that time I came out as an implementation manager because of the network experience. And so, I was the implementation manager for Ztelligence, which was the enterprise platform. There were no DIY consumer platforms [INAUDIBLE] and there were no enterprise platforms. And I think ConfimIt was starting around the same time. And actually, we saw ConfirmIt as more of a direct competitor to us at that time than Survey Monkey. Survey Monkey didn’t even get started until 2004.
I was four years into moving from San Francisco to Minneapolis to take on running the General Mills account and they started at Wisconsin above a record store. Today we think of them as Palo Alto, Silicon Valley and all that it is now, but they were not a treat at all. It was a classic you don’t think they are a treat until it’s too late. And so that was 2004 and we thought they were going to go under. They didn’t really get going until 2006 and get momentum. And so, by the time we realized they were a treat, they had too much momentum already. Unstoppable momentum. And so, we actually focused on building capabilities they didn’t have. So as opposed to just this race to be the same, we focused on what are the key things that could be different and in the end, those were the things that Survey Monkey actually ended up acquiring and also just the service base and everything else.
Yes, panel asset.
The zoom panel that we built, yes, we’ve built the zoom panel originally at General Mills. Then that went on to be our big consumer panel asset.
Such an interesting story. They had – I think one of the first things that stood out to me is when they first entered in 2004, it felt very copycat and then, no offense Survey Monkey people because I love them very much now, but at that point, I was like really. It felt like the same thing But then, like you said, about two years later, it felt like their marketing, I don’t know if they had funding or what happened, but it felt like –
Dave came on board and yes, he came on board and yes, I think it was a game changer for them at that point. And they focused on DIY, they focused on the long tail. We were, at Market Tools, we – so we pivoted to survive the.com boom and that’s what happened. That’s what changed things. We had to do that to survive. And so, should we have focused more on Zoomerang, maybe. But would have been around to talk about it, don’t know. So we pivoted into the panel, we’ve pivoted into full service research. We focused on big brands and enterprises, and they focused on that long focus of DIY.
That’s all they cared about.
So, you know, at the end that was what ended up driving the evaluation of the sale of Zoomerang too to Survey Monkey.
And congratulations to Survey Monkey because as you know, they recently filed their C1.
Yes, I’ve heard that.
So it’s kind of a big deal, big deal. I’m just watching them right now just to see what’s going to wind up with the evaluations. I’m excited for them. They are going to do well. So let’s shift gears. Survata right now, congratulations, series B. It’s a really, really big deal. What’s Survata doing that’s got you most excited and it’s getting purchased amongst your customers?
Survata us so exciting to me because I think I was so in the mobile kind of blinders on that it was all I was thinking about and when that wrapped up and when that chapter closed, I started looking around, realizing, really observing what was happening in the industry and thinking mobile is an important part to a research business, but it’s one piece. Online is one piece, mobile is one piece, they are component part to a much larger thing that’s going on with data collection and reaching the consumer. So as I look at Survata’s assets is our publisher network. So, Survata has two business lines, the marketing research part, which I’m responsible for, and the ad measurement business line. And thinking about how market research can apply ad measurement types of functionality and capabilities of market research is very exciting to me. So I’ll use an example of True Sample. If we think about True Sample, when we created that company, we weren’t inventing validating who people were. We were just inventing it in the market research industry. So the team looked towards the credits in the industry. It was a team who built True Sample. So my colleagues that were part of that. It was like how do people validate credit scores today and how do we take that concept and apply it to validating surveys as real and unique. So, that was take from one industry, apply to another and have new applications of how you can use. So as I think of Survata and market research, ad measurement, Survata started with market research and we have a strong – we have a survey platform. It’s really cool one. It’s Device Agnostic.
And it’s easy to use, very simple. But the secret sauce to that is it plugs into our publisher network. And that is for all intensive purposes, our intensive source. It’s an audience. It’s not a panel, but it’s access to publisher samples to what I call net two sample. So part of the challenge with panels is [INAUDIBLE] different. I love panels and they have a purpose, and we use panels on part of our business. But they are a lot of times you’re talking to the same people that have been part of a panel for a long time. The people that we access through our publisher networks are not on panels. The way that we incentive people is we unlock content. So they don’t get points, they don’t get gift cards or rewards. So we unlock Wi-Fi, we unlock Wall Street Journal articles. And so, when you’re on LinkedIn and you click on article, and it wants you to subscribe, and you think I don’t want to pull up my credit card right now, not going to read it or answer six questions, answer 10 questions, get it for free, I’ll do that. And so, while we may not be part of a panel, we might be willing to do that to get access to that service or that article, that app game, whatever it is. And so, we have a unique way of reaching audience and we have massive scale in the way that we can do that across the web. And so, our respondents are not your typical panel respondents, but we’ve got a lot of them, we’ve got them across all devices and we’ve got national rep sample going out the door. We don’t have to wait to balance it. You just go. So our survey platform is connected to survey wall and when people do surveys with us, they go up to the publisher network and you can do that in a DIY capacity. You can go to our platform, you can set up your survey, you can launch that survey and it gets send out to the publisher network and then you get your results.
Very unique. You know, in terms of how you accessing the completes, the user on the platform that’s very powerful. You obviously define the sample frame after you – or at some point during the project creation.
Right upfront, yes. You just click, age, gender, you set your parameters and then you just say how many people do I want. Do I want 100, do I want 500 and then drag, drop, setup your survey and boom, launch.
So, the unique selling proposition is really centric to the quality sample they are able to use on the Survata platform?
That’s right. We’ve done some research on research comparisons between traditional online panels and our publisher network. And the thing you don’t see on the publisher network is fraud because there’s no incentive. So you don’t see duplicate survey takers, you don’t see people lying and biasing the data to get through screener because you can’t stop pile free Wi-Fi. You can’t exchange free Wi-Fi for cash or gift cards. And so, there’s no incentive. It’s hard to do because of the way we deliver the surveys to begin with, but then on top of that, there’s no incentive to lie through the screeners because you’re not trying to game it in any way.
Super interesting. I’d love to see that white paper. Maybe we can put that in the show notes.
Absolutely, yes. I can share some information with you on that.
That would be great. My guest today has been Dyna with Survata. Dyna, thank you so much for joining me today.