Ep. 523 – IA Annual 2022 Conference Series: Vignesh Krishnan, Founder and CEO of Research Defender

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[00:00:00]

Jamin Brazil: Hey everybody, Happy Market Research podcast. I’m Jamin your host. I am live today with Vignesh Krishnan.

[00:00:10]

Vignesh Krishnan: Yes, you got it.

[00:00:10]

Jamin Brazil: Good. Thank you. Founder and CEO of Research Defender. Love Research Defender. Huge fan and also a customer. Tell us about the business.

[00:00:22]

Vignesh Krishnan: Thanks for having me Jamin as always. It’s been what, number two, number three with you now?

[00:00:26]

Jamin Brazil: A little bit.

[00:00:26]

Vignesh Krishnan: Yeah, everything’s well. I got in this morning to Philadelphia. Work is good. Fortunately or unfortunately there’s a lot of fraud in the ecosystem.

[00:00:37]

Jamin Brazil: Job security for you, right?

[00:00:37]

Vignesh Krishnan: And we try to fight it.

[00:00:39]

Jamin Brazil: Tell us about the business.

[00:00:40]

Vignesh Krishnan: So I founded it in 2018, late 2018 and my background was in working in programmatic sample at a company called Lucid, which is now of course a part of Cint.

[00:00:50]

Jamin Brazil: Yep, $1.1 billion acquisition.

[00:00:53]

Vignesh Krishnan: Yes that number.

[00:00:55]

Jamin Brazil: We all know the story.

[00:00:55]

Vignesh Krishnan: We all know the number. So I was fortunate to get that experience working there. And then as the technology evolved and of course the rest of the ecosystem evolved clearly there was a lot of fraud and our goal, my goal anyway was to help fight it. And then personally I was also in a good spot where I felt that I could go ahead and start a company. So those two things came together and I think behind every company I think there’s a personal and a professional side. And they happened to merge at the right time and that was again late 2018.

[00:01:25]

Jamin Brazil: Congratulations on all your success.

[00:01:27]

Vignesh Krishnan: Thank you.

[00:01:27]

Jamin Brazil: Research Defender is somewhat unique in the space, right?

[00:01:31]

Vignesh Krishnan: Yes.

[00:01:32]

Jamin Brazil: We use it at HubUX.

[00:01:33]

Vignesh Krishnan: Yep.

[00:01:34]

Jamin Brazil: And it’s been material in its impact of improving quality by prescreening potential participants or bad actors at the point of entry of the survey. So you’re immediately screening out bad actors. And then also through leveraging NLP with an open-ended question, which we call it the text audition question, which provides some context. You can ask subject matter – you could ask a topic – if you’re doing something on like let’s say travel you might ask a question like what’s your favorite vacation destination and why and then the API integration with Research Defender will rate the response, the open-ended response the person provides in context of the question that’s asked and then gives you a score and then you can make a decision on if that person’s going to be a good or bad person.

[00:02:24]

Vignesh Krishnan: Yes, you described it perfectly. You know we have a few products to which you’ve described; we have others as well. I think ultimately the way we like to think about fraud is the fact that it is a dynamic problem and you have different types of fraud. So you have the fraud, which you described, which is the bot activity and the negative people trying to make money essentially. Then you have the poor engagement and then on top of that you have a lot of professional survey takers. So in some cases you may want these people if they’re desirable and in some cases you may not. And as a whole like it depends on the buyer, what they want to do to fight against it. So you can fight it with X, you can fight it with either Y or Z, or you can fight it with XYZ. But like you said, it’s a pretty big topic.

[00:03:09]

Jamin Brazil: Huge topic. All right, let’s talk about trends. The market research space has changed a lot in the last three years.

[00:03:15]

Vignesh Krishnan: Yes.

[00:03:16]

Jamin Brazil: That is definitely something that is I’m not going to say a trend; it’s like the state of the industry. What do you see as a trend carrying us through 2022?

[00:03:27]

Vignesh Krishnan: Always the hard question.

[00:03:31]

Jamin Brazil: Predict the future.

[00:03:31]

Vignesh Krishnan: Exactly. Look, I think that on a whole, as a whole, and I’m talking about the industry as a whole not just the sample side or the fraud side; as a whole there is simply no doubt that if you are only providing services, you have to very quickly adapt and use software to engage and to supplement that. And one good way to describe why that is important is that in 2020 a lot of services business was down versus software business. We were not down. They were going up actually. So I think that is a trend that will be forced upon people whether they like it or not essentially. And to be fair, I think most people here are obviously sensible, smart, intelligent people. You see all of these technology platforms, they’re part of many technology platforms in many separate ways. So I definitely see that that will be a trend and that’s probably not a 2022 thing; I think that’ll come in the years. And I think just a research service without any supplemental software I think would be somewhere that needs to be worked on, right? So that’s one trend. And then of course I’ll speak to the topic close to my heart, which is I do think at some point we’re going to have some standards and it doesn’t have to be Research Defender; it could be anybody. We have very strong competitors and they do a great job as well. But I think that there will be a standard or at least a set of standards, which can help fight against that, which gives you a basis because ultimately I think in research, more than anything else, consistency year over year is probably the most important thing.

[00:05:01]

Jamin Brazil: Totally.

[00:05:02]

Vignesh Krishnan: And if we can get that consistency not just on the sample side but also on the fraud detection side and on the software agency side. I think that’ll be good for us, a standard as well as software are the two S’s that I’ll go with.

[00:05:17]

Jamin Brazil: Awesome. What’s your personal motto?

[00:05:19]

Vignesh Krishnan: I should have practiced the answer to that question. You know I don’t know if this is a motto but it is something that I really care about is trust because I think if you can trust the people that you’re working with both as a customer, as a colleague, as an industry, I think that blows away a lot of whether it’s bureaucracy or friction in – whether that’s doing business; whether it’s just hanging out getting beer, getting a drink. So my motto would be to be as trustful as I can with people that I work with and obviously hope for that in return as well. So that’s what I’ll leave you with.

[00:06:04]

Jamin Brazil: Love it. Vignesh, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?

[00:06:08]

Vignesh Krishnan: On LinkedIn, first name Vignesh; second name Krishnan. The easier one to probably remember is the company name, Research Defender; the English word research; the English word Defender. If you look that up either online or on LinkedIn you’ll find us pretty quickly.

[00:06:22]

Jamin Brazil: Perfect. And as always, we’ll include that information in the show notes. Vignesh Krishnan, there we go, nailed it.

[00:06:30]

Vignesh Krishnan: You got it.

[00:06:31]

Jamin Brazil: CEO, Research Defender. Thank you very much for being on the show sir.

[00:06:33]

Vignesh Krishnan: Thank you Jamin.