MRMW NA 2019 Podcast Series

MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series – Maryana Stepanova – Borderless Access

Welcome to the MRMW NA 2019 Conference Series. Recorded live in Cincinnati, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Maryana Stepanova, Director of Business Development at Borderless Access.

Contact Maryana Online:


Borderless Access


Maryana is a vet of MRMW.  This is the second time that’s she attended the show.  She had a great time as did I. And we talked about some of the benefits of MRMW in that it’s a very intimate environment.  She also, of course, talked about Borderless Access., her company, how they’ve been growing as a full-service market research firm but then also having a proprietary panel that has a unique “Invite-only” and validation on social media approach, ensuring high quality in their sample.  Hope you enjoy this episode.


My guest today is Maryana.  Maryana?


That’s correct.


Maryana, Borderless Access.  What do you think about MRMW?


I think it’s a great conference.  It’s actually my second year here.  It’s very private; it’s very intimate.  You get to actually have a lot of one-on-one human interactions with people instead of running around and going from session to session.  So I’m a fan. And it’s a beautiful hotel.


It is.  Have you seen The Shining?  It totally is the…  I’m going to post this picture along with this episode just so everybody else has the context.  But like…


I mean the speakers….


The speakers have been amazing.


Have to feel really famous.    


[laughs]  Look at this hallway.


It’s quite a stage.  Yes, wow, mmhm…


Right, I mean that’s like the REDRUM at the end of the…   Right, so, ah.  Love the hotel.  The venue’s great.  I actually really like how the exhibit hall is connected to the auditorium or the speaking area ‘cause that feels like, in the way it has been structured, it feels like there’s no bad spot on the floor, which is nice.


I agree.  It’s beautiful.


So, you guys spoke yesterday.  Tell us a little bit about what your company does and the talk.


So, we are a full-service market research consultancy.  We are most famous for being kind of the pioneers for emerging markets.  We have now built over 34 proprietary panels globally; obviously, started out internationally and now slowly making our way back to Europe, Key West, and Canada.  We do something as small as your traditional quantitative, qualitative research to much bigger, larger things from full-service aspect like designing a questionnaire, toying around with different concepts, full analysis.  We also have created different technologies to support the market research we’re already doing so that it really complements the work.


So, you’re a full-service market research company.  In conjunction, you have a proprietary panel that you’ve built, and that’s in quite a few countries.   


Yeah, 34 countries and they’re all from the ground up, if you will, “invite-only”.  You cannot just simply go in and sign up. You have to be invited; it’s social media verification, the whole nine yards.   


Yeah, for sure.  


We take it very seriously.  That’s our baby.


Yeah, no kidding, huh.  It’s interesting how access to consumers is becoming more and more of a barrier, especially in light of privacy changes.  


That’s correct, especially in Europe.  It’s more stringent. Or when you talk about health care research, it’s really changing.  


Yeah, for sure.  Health care is actually a whole other can of worms.  Even in the U.S. specifically, it’s just crazy how it’s getting locked down.  Feels like there’s… And at the same time, there’s this wealth of data on…  The New York Times this morning, they have an opinion piece centered around privacy.  The context is really interesting for market research because so much of what people are sharing with us is self-reported but, like you said, social connection.  So there a lot of behavioral and transactional data we could tether to that. Is that something you guys are doing? Incorporating outside or auxiliary data into the self-reported data?


Not to my knowledge.  I’m sure they’re probably looking into that.  But the company is so large and we’re so global, international.  It’s probably a whole separate team that’s working on other type of magic and how to stay ahead of times, if you will.  


How long has Borderless Access been around?  


We’ve been around for ten years.  


Oh, gosh.  So a ton of growth in ten years.  


Exactly, they’re really proud of that.


They should be.  [laughs]


Mmhm.  We had a big celebration back in October.  


Yeah, that’s huge.  How many employees?


Oh, my goodness.  Has to be over at least 200.


So, quite a few.


It’s quite a few.  We have international offices.  So, I’m based out of California.  We have an office now in Romania. The operations are in Bangalore, India; we have a presence in APAC, South Africa.  So, it’s amazing.


What do you see as the fastest growing market right now?


I would say the markets that don’t have generally a lot of presence.  I’m talking about like the Middle East, Africa; I see a lot of movement from the Netherlands; so, a lot of like different European countries that, normally, are not included in the research where have less population and harder to recruit into those panels.  Yeah, it’s been interesting.


What does an ideal customer look like for Borderless Access?  Is it on the brand? Is it an agency? It is…yeah.


I think an ideal customer for us is someone that mostly looks for a consultant.  So, we really try to build long-term relationships, and we really try to consult you and hand-hold you along way.  So, for us, it’s not just providing a panel or providing sample. Or, “Here’s your project manager; let’s go in field.”  It’s so much more. We try to provide our expertise because all of us come from different backgrounds and different knowledge.  So, I think we’re really proud of that, you know, what we can bring to the table.


Yeah, that’s really cool, really cool.  So full-service market research, but yet you have breadth of…  So, you’re not really using third-part sample, are you? You’re using your own proprietary panel sample for your projects.


Yeah, for the most part, it’s proprietary, but, just like a lot of players in the market, we all work together.  We capitalize on our strength. So, we have worked with a lot of different companies in this room and have great relationships.  So it’s kind of like, “Help you and you help me.”


Got it, perfect.  So, your favorite speaker.  Any ideas? Besides, of course, Borderless Access.


I actually have not had a chance to sit on the sessions.  I’m so ashamed, but it’s on my agenda today.


The good news is they’re going to be recorded; they’ve been on video, and I think they’re going to be releasing them in two weeks.  So, my recommendation, is at a minimum, watch the FourSquare presentation. I haven’t seen all them either, by the way, by a long shot.  But the Black Swan, Oh, my gosh, that one was fantastic. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Maryana, Borderless Access, thanks so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.  


Thank you, thank you.  This was a lot of fun. I appreciate it.  [laughs]