Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Vignesh Krishnan, CEO of SampleChain.

Contact Vignesh Online:

LinkedIn

SampleChain


[00:00]

Vignesh Krishnan, SampleChain.  This is a young startup. This guy is bringing a breath of relevant expertise to the market research space.  He’s an early employee of Lucid. After leaving that, he started this DMP, which is a Data Management Platform that is intent on connecting sample and tools to improve overall source transparency and, ultimately, quality, which I know is a really important issue based on the interviews I’ve done.  Enjoy the episode and the conversation with him.

[00:32]  

So, my guest today is Vignesh Krishnan, SampleChain.  We are live today at IIeX in Austin. What do you think about the show?

[00:40]  

So far, so good.  I went to one of the conferences.  Again, it’s all about meeting the people and listening in.  So, it was pretty enjoyable, yeah.

[00:47]

Yeah, I think in business you really only have a single piece of IP, and that is your connections.  

[00:56]

Yes, I would agree.  Absolutely.

[00:57]   

And there’s probably not a better venue from my vantage point than events like IIeX.

[01:03]

Yeah, for sure, yeah.  Well, Andrew got me on the podcast.  So, there you go. That’s a connection, right?  

[01:08]  

You know that’s true actually.  That’s funny. Andrew with Lucid.  So, in a year, how many of these events or events like this do you wind up going to?

[01:17]

Yeah, so I just started SampleChain; it’s been about six to eight months since I started it.  I’ve been to SampleCon, and IIeX as well; so, this is the second one. I would say I’m probably going to Insights Association too.         

[01:28]

Alright, cool.  Yeah, Insights Association has a great…  Of course, a different organization (GreenBook, apologies) but they also have some really good, unique shows.           

[01:37]

Absolutely.  And it is in the backyard in New Orleans; so, I’m just going to walk across the street and go to that one as well.

[01:42]

So, you’re based out of New Orleans.

[01:43]

Yes, I’m in New Orleans.

[01:44]  

OK, perfect.  Well, tell me about SampleChain.

[01:46]

So, my background, you know…  Starting with the New Orleans story, I graduated from Tulane about ten years ago, the local university there.  And I got into Lucid pretty early joining it at the company; had and saw amazing growth. And then, after a while, decided that, “You know what?  I just want to try something new.” I did see there was a lot of analogies that we made as an industry to the ad tech industry. So in a way, the idea is to introduce a DMP to the space.  Just like ad tech has DMP’s, so that’s kind of…

[02:20]

Maybe, you can expand on what that is for our audience.

[02:22]

Yeah, absolutely.  So, a DMP is a Data Management Platform, and what it does is that it is… It has tentacles into different parts of the industry like the exchanges, and the suppliers, and the buyers, and so on and so forth.  And specifically, I’m talking about the ad tech advertising industry. And the idea here is to help all of these participants understand their traffic sources better. Are they all getting attacked by bots, for example?  Are they having issues with conversion that could do better with some piece of information? So the idea is to create that entity and provide that information to these clients.

[03:01]

That’s beautiful.  So, you’ve been at it just under a year.

[03:04]

Yep, exactly.  Something like that.

[03:06]   

Did you guys come out the gate with funding or…?

[03:09]

So, we got some funding:  local funding, Angel Funding from New Orleans.  So, I did that for about the first few months is where I was focusing on.  Most of that, like I said, is from the Angel Network. So, pretty recent happenings, all of this.   

[03:23]      

Got it.  I mean I’ve got to ask…  Lucid – you were there early.  Growing gang busters. They’re just crushing it.  They’re defining a space, right? I mean it’s a really unique point of view.  Why is the world would you jump ship to start your own? Is it just like entrepreneurship is in your blood?  

[03:44]

Yeah, well, part of it is that, but a more honest reason is that the longer I stayed there, I had more people joining my team who were 13, 14, 15 years younger than me.  I was like, “Oh, my God, I’ve been here too long.” So, some of them had actually been in middle school when I joined Lucid. And I was like, “Oh, my God, how are you even here?”  So I was like, “You know what? It’s time to start a new adventure.” Obviously, I was there for a long time. Really enjoyed my experience there. Still in touch with all of them, of course.  But decided, that from a life perspective, probably wanted to take a second step here. So…

[04:20]

So, congratulations, by the way.  From my vantage point as a life-long entrepreneur, there’s nothing scarier than the first two years.  I mean it is freaking terrifying. And the nice part about age is we know that there’s cycles, and if we can just suck it up long enough, the weather changes.  

[04:40]

Yep, you see the other side.  Absolutely.

[04:42]

Exactly, exactly right.  So I think that’s definitely a leg-up.  At least, in my thesis.

[04:47]

Well, I’ll take it.

[04:49]

So, tell me who is your ideal customer.

[04:52]  

So, you can segment the marketplace into multiple different ways.  Using ad tech as an analogy, I would say you have the publisher’s side, and we make the analogy here to suppliers.  You have the exchanges and then, of course, you have the buyers, and then you have the buyer’s buyer (the end brands and so on and so forth).  So, obviously, depending on how well this thing goes, our long-term plan would be to work with all of these aspects, for now, just focusing on the supply side, focusing on the exchanges.  Of course, these would be the suppliers that we all know and love (panel companies and then, of course, the exchanges as well).

[05:31]  

So, the value that you’re adding to that particular piece of the chain is increased transparency.

[05:40]

Yes, helping increase transparency, helping these suppliers have a better handle on quality, helping these suppliers have a better handle on availability and knowledge of their respondents is where we’re going.  That’ll be the first step, yeah.

[05:57]  

Got it.  Yeah, that’s kind of interesting.  So, what does your pitch look like when you’re sitting in front of those people?  I usually start with the story arc of like, “Here’s the pain point.” Right and then, “Here’s the solution.”

[06:12]

At the end of the day, I think that we all want more completes; we want more transactions to be successful.    

[06:18]

100%.

[06:18]   

And I would say that right now, I don’t know what that number is, but I can tell you that it’s probably between 10%, 15%, 20% at max.  There’s 80 times a person tries to finish a survey; they do not. And our goal is to help those companies get those numbers up, right? And, hopefully, push the ball significantly higher.  If you can get to 30%, 40%, 50%, right? And the goal here is to push up these conversions and, of course, that turns in money and then that can be reinvested into the business as well. So that would be my pitch to these companies, “Hey, you know what?  If only 15% to 20% of your supply’s completing, that is a problem. How do you push this number up?”

[06:55]

Are you guys at this stage in the business building out the technology or are you actually selling?  

[07:00]  

No, we’re selling it.  Got a head start. Pretty much started quoted with this on

Day 1.  Some of the guys that we all worked with before.  So, that also has an advantage as you know.

[07:14]

Any names you could drop?

[07:16]

Miguel and Jimson are two of the developers on the board.  They were colleagues from back in the day. So, I’ve been working with them.  I’ve been getting a lot of help from Chuck Miller, who is, obviously, part of our industry, and he’s very passionate about quality and these kinds of things.  So, I’ve been working with him too.

[07:33]

That’s fantastic.  If someone wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?

[07:39]

So, either email or phone.  So, first name Vignesh, so first letter first name, so VKrishanan@samplechain.co.  And the number is a New Orleans number:  so,

504-289-8156.

[07:53]

You have to wear a party hat if you dial that number.

[07:55]  

Exactly, absolutely.  

[07:57]

So, my guest today has been Vignesh, SampleChain.  Check him out. Information is in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining me today on the Happy Market Research Podcast.  

[08:06]

Thank you, Jamin.