Welcome to the #IIEX Europe Conference Series 2019. Recorded live in Amsterdam, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Babita Earle from Zappi.
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Babita with Zappi?
How are you today?
I’m good. Thank you. How are you?
I’m doing great. Thank for you being on the Happy Market Research podcast.
IIeX Amsterdam. This is my first time here.
What do you think?
It’s amazing. I feel like I miss my wife. It’s such a romantic city.
Yes, it is beautiful. Amsterdam’s great actually. Somebody asked me the question why do they have it here every year? I don’t know why, but I’m not complaining, because Amsterdam is a great city.
Yes. It’s absolutely the case.
The first time in Amsterdam for you?
Period, yes. That’s right.
You must go to the Rembrandt exhibition.
You’re the second person that’s told me that.
Yes. The Rijksmuseum is an amazing museum. If you get some time, you should go.
It’s fairly close.
Walking distance, yes. Amazing.
What do you think, two hours is enough time?
I think so if you stay focused, just go to that part of the museum because there is obviously loads to see there. But you’re here and they’ve got the famous piece, I can’t remember what it’s called? But, it’s definitely worth going to see.
I was thinking about the Van Gogh Museum, was one I was toying between which one I would go to.
I went through that decision process myself, the Van Gogh and the Rijks and I went to the Rijksmuseum. There is a centenary exhibition for Rembrandt, so I wouldn’t miss it.
Thanks for that pro tip. Tell me a little about what’s going on with Zappi.
What’s going on with Zappi. Lots really. For us right now it’s event season, I guess it is for most of the research industry. Last week I was at Quirks, London. It’s the first time Quirks did a big event in Brooklyn. It’s the first time they ran the event in London. We had a number of presentations there. Again, the theme was very much around technology, automation, aJile. I took a slightly different approach. Very similar to what you’re doing here, but I did an interview, short presentation. But also, an interview with a lady from (02:23 unclear) One-on-one interview. Somebody who’s really thinking differently. We did that and then obviously we’re here now. Then we’re going to be in South by Southwest, which is going to be really exciting, in a few weeks. Where we’ve got a bunch of really great clients and brands coming to join us. Then we’re holding our own private event coming up soon on the April 4, in London. Part of the whole Zappi Insiders’ piece. A lot of events, marketing, content. I think the thing for us right now is there is… Obviously, we started in 2013 wanting to automate the world of market research and there is a lot happening in that space now. It’s finding out voice which is different and what that is. We’re very much moving towards the learning side of the industry and how a single platform and standardization and scale, can really drive a better understanding of data.
You moved, it was ZappiStore and then rebranded to just Zappi. What was the rationale around that?
Store, you’re right. You can see we dropped that. We started out to be an app store of the market research industry. Building apps for research agencies out there to drive revenue through our platform. That’s changed now. Rather than building any old products on our platform we’ve got a real focus in specific areas and specific enterprise-based solutions. Rather than building a large quantity of unstructured apps on our platform. Also, when we started, it was very much how can we open up the SME market as well? But actually, where we’re at now we think there’s more demand on the bigger scale, the Pepsi’s of this world.
Of course that being one of the marquee accounts for you guys early days, right?
Yes. Exciting for us, last year we announced a strategic partnership with Pepsi. Where they have got a really amazing strategy to truly digitize their insights function. Some of the stuff that we’re hearing back today and we’re the platform of choice that they’re working with. Yes. A lots happening. We’ve made some progress, but there is still lots to do.
Lots to do. That’s the understatement of the century.
We’re learning. That’s the thing about our business, we’re always learning. As we learn, we keep or we adjust, or we just lose things that aren’t working.
You guys have done a great job of scaling the business. Great growth year over year, et cetera. Lots of challenges and I did that. I know that a business at one million looks different than five, looks different than 20, looks different at 50 million. As you guys have been scaling the business successfully, what have you seen as one of the more material challenges?
I guess when you’re going through a growth period, as we have been, you’re really focusing on sales and driving revenue. Because you need that to invest more in the business. Then you get to a point where you’ve got this organization and that organizations come together maybe in a structured or unstructured way. Then you take a step back and say let’s think about our people, let’s think about our culture. Let’s think about how we work together. I guess we’ve gone through that newborn stage and gone through the teenage stage, but maybe early adulthood in terms of just maturing in terms of our proposition to the market. Just really knowing who we are because you try lots of different things. There is a lot of focus within the business around how we bring in new revenue, but also how we drive repeatable revenue. But then also, how we work as a business, and our culture, and our people. Looking after ourselves as a team.
I love that focus on culture. I recently interviewed the CMO of Qualtrics and in that conversation, we were talking about this exact subject. He sees the superpower of Qualtrics being their ability to intentionally drive behaviors through enforcement of culture. It creates a self-policing, people know they’re a good fit bad fit, quick, early in out kind of thing. Then on top of it, one of the things they did was intentionally drive it’s okay to fail. In the context of success. The actual example he gave on the interview which I thought was clever is, every week they have an award. It’s the biggest failure award. I’m sure it’s better words, but something like that. Then one person had a project, client calls them and they happened to be in the restroom at the time. They were muting the phone, et cetera, trying to navigate that difficult conversation at that point in time. It didn’t happen as successfully as he thought. Catastrophic. The point is that, in these I think high performing companies are predicated on high-performing culture. Do you guys have a specific way? Or how do you install that cultural norm inside of Zappi? Because you’re adding a lot of headcount.
Yes. It’s a very good question. A challenging question. I think we know. Your culture is going to be organically developed from the people that are in the organization. We have our beliefs around inclusive listening. We do have the culture of failure is fine as long as you learn from it. Nobody is going to be let go because they’ve really messed up on something. As long as you learn from it. There are a number of things that we do. We hold each other accountable for our cultural beliefs and we’ve gone through this process recently around introverts, extroverts. How are we more inclusive of the introverts within the organization and let the extroverts encourage them to listen more. I wouldn’t say there is a set process. It’s more around having the courage, courageous honesty to bring these topics to the fore and have a conversation about it. We have a culture of flat channel, so it’s about learning from other organizations. We take a lot from the Netflix culture within Zappi. There is a big part of that that’s fed into ours. It’s learning from other organizations, then as a group deciding what’s important to us and then having a view of, what do we mean by courageous honesty? Holding up really good examples of that, as well as not so good examples of that. It’s work in progress, but there are a number of different things that help us drive that culture. I also believe that it’s about bringing in different viewpoints. There is always going to be different viewpoints of one cultural value and how it should be executed, what it means within the organization. Having a diverse viewpoint on your culture and how it should be embedded within the organization is really important, especially when you’re working in a global organization as well.
Once you move to multiple, especially to your point that are in completely different time zones, there is a ton, it’s all about the intentionality. As much focus as you have on sales which is always paramount, you honestly need to put resources in that space too. Because it is the way the organization ultimately will deliver to the market and brand its performance over time. It’s all about that consistent delivery.
Yes. We have teams in Cape Town. We have teams in the US, different parts of the US. We have teams in APAC. Actually, through this journey, we’ve had some really interesting input from those different markets of their perspective on certain situations. Where, I would never have considered. It’s really opened my eyes to how somebody in Cape Town would see our culture versus somebody in APAC. It’s challenging to get a culture which is global. How do you get that truly global culture that works for everybody? Growing at the same time.
Congratulations on your success. If somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?
LinkedIn, Facebook, call me. Email me or come and see me. I’m based in Camden in London. I think too much is done digitally nowadays. I’m a great fan of meeting people for coffee or a drink or a glass of wine.
The coordination of it, maybe email would be a great way to do it. You mind sharing your email?
It’s Babita, B-A-B-I-T-A dot Earle, E-A-R-L-E at ZappiStore, we’ve still got the store in the email address, dot com.
Thank you so much for being on Happy Market Research podcast.