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Head of Product & Design, Knowledgehound

Joe Razza

E09

Democratizing Data Research & Value-Based Interviewing

E09

Democratizing Data Research & Value-Based Interviewing

Democratizing Data Research & Value-Based Interviewing

Andrew interviews Joe Razza on his background into design, and explores how they're democratizing data research and visualization at Knowledge Hound.

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Episode Details

Transcript

Andrew Verboncouer:   

You're listening to the Seaworthy Podcast, Episode 9. Seaworthy is a podcast about building successful software. Today we're talking about democratizing data research and hiring through value based interviews with Joe Razza from Knowledge Hound. 


Hey everyone its Andrew. I'm excited to have Joe Razza on the show today. He's currently director of product and design at Knowledge Hound, a data retrieval and visualization company based out of Chicago. Welcome to Seaworthy Joe, thanks for coming on the show - how you doing? 


Joe Razza:  Hey thanks a lot for having me. It's an honor to be on the show and especially on such a like a historic day in our country's history. 


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah yeah - I'm excited it's gonna be fun. Hope everyone listening got out and voted.


Joe Razza:  Absolutely. 


Andrew Verboncouer:   I just recently got in from the polls myself. 


Joe Razza:  Yeah I was up bright and early at 6am to try to beat the crowds here in Chicago. They can be quite lengthy. 


Andrew Verboncouer:   Oh, I bet. How long did you have to wait? 


Joe Razza:  Just an hour. But I mean an hour at 6am was long enough. 


Andrew Verboncouer:   Just an hour...I think I waited 10 minutes. And I was planning on no wait. So - but that's a Green Bay for you.


Joe Razza:  Yeah, different population numbers.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah. Joe, so can you give us a brief background on who you are and what you do?


Joe Razza:  Absolutely. Yeah. So the long story short is I was born and raised here in Chicago. I went to Iowa State for my undergrad degree in graphic design, and came right back to Chicago where I got myself into the advertising and design world. I left that world after about three and a half years where started to go from this world of working kind of, for an agency to really taking the reins of my own career, and started a little small design studio here called frequency. And that was a combination of just wanting to wanting to have more control over my relationship with clients. And the overall vision of helping small businesses understand how important design and branding and communication design can be. And so I ran frequency for the better part of six and a half years. And along that journey, I worked with companies large like a Walgreens and a lot of really small startups here in Chicago. And really went from more of a web designer to more of a design UX UI thinker. And that led me to where I am today where I met knowledge town about three and a half years ago. And they were just this budding idea. And over the last three and a half years, I've been working to build this company and to execute on a vision and we haven't a great little small team here in Chicago, and we're just looking to grow the company and continue on this journey. That is, you know, entrepreneurship.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, that's great. Thanks. Thanks for that background. You of course, so what do you do outside of designing work? It sounds like you kind of you know, you went to school you came back and have had your hand in a few business ventures since then, you know, including your own and knowledge hound, and I'm sure some other smaller ones as as many of us do, what do you what do you enjoy doing outside of designing work?


Joe Razza:  Yeah, great question. You know, and design is definitely sort of spread through a lot of different parts of my life. Not only I work and outside of work, but you know, some of my biggest passions are playing the drums, I've been playing the drums since I was two grew up in a pretty musical family. My father there was a drummer so that that continues today. I still play in a band we play a couple shows a year and it's a really fun different kind of creative release on outside of that I'm a big snowboarder, avid snowboarder which kind of ties into traveling I think exploring and seeing different cultures is really helped me to empathize with different users better it's a kind of a weird weird tie in and I like to cook so you know, tie in with cooking I like to eat so all these things that outside of work somehow managed to all be creative in and of themselves.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah definitely. And we actually met not - I don't think we met at Epicurrence, the Montues, but we actually met through the network on the Slack channel.


Joe Razza:  Yeah, absolutely. Yep.


Andrew Verboncouer:   And so that was, you know, quite the time snowboarding out there. I think we got maybe two to three feet of fresh snow overnight the first day. And that was I mean, it was dream that was the best snow that I've ever been in.


Joe Razza:  Best snow, best conference, if you want to call it a conference that I've that I've ever been to. I mean, just to take the gathering and everything was just so spot on for, you know, not only my personal lifestyle, but just what I want to get out of an event like that. I mean, was really great to make some real, real connections. And you and I didn't even meet there, but just by having that community we are able to meet afterward. And it's been it's been wonderful.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, big props to Dan Petty. If you haven't heard of Epicurrence, I'd definitely check that out. I know, they have a big group one, The Montues is one that we went to is about 300 people, I think, 


Joe Razza:  Yeah, it was big. 


Andrew Verboncouer:   And so I think he has another one. Another announcement coming up soon, where you can go there, bring your team, it's more of like a getaway. And it's a it's a non conference. So you meet a lot of people, you know, like, like Joe and I met, I guess, aside from that, but you know, a lot of people, you snowboard, you connect and super valuable to, to grow your network and just meet cool people that are passionate, not only about design, but like you, you know, passionate about snowboarding, and drumming and cooking and all these things, just passionate about, you know, zest for life. Which is, which is really cool to see. And surround yourself with.


Joe Razza:  Yeah, that's, that's sort of the great takeaway about that, and surrounding yourself with a lot of different people. But there are a lot of things that you all tie back to one another. So it's really interesting when you surround yourself with a vast array of people, but all tied together by this thing we call design. And yeah, it was a really great time. Very, very enriching.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah. So Joe, you tell us a little bit about how you got into design, you went to school, and came back to Chicago and kind of got into the ad agency world and the arts type stuff before you got into product design. He tell us a little bit more about knowledge hound, and how your role got started there, and maybe even more about the company and how they how that got started.


Joe Razza:  Yeah, sure. So knowledge hound was started about four years ago, from a key pain point that our founder Christie was having at a fortune 500 company where she was working there on the Insights Team. And and this problem was that she had an incredibly difficult time finding data points and finding research that supported questions that she would be that she would be having in order to answer questions. So for instance, the sales or the marketing teams might be looking for questions. And she had to go and try to find data to support an answer. And she found it really difficult to do so. And she also saw that in this difficulty when you can't, when you don't have an answer to a question, oftentimes, the solution was to go and conduct another study, and only to find out later that you actually did have data, it was just stored on someone else's hard drive, who maybe wasn't in the office that day. And so she goes, this isn't right, we need a wholesale change on how this industry is storing, analyzing, finding insights, and not just the data, it's really about insight activation.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, that's, that's really interesting. And I think not something that that we see, you know, as UX designers, you know, we rely on data quite a bit and derive some insights from that. But, you know, something that's even larger scale, where you've got teams of 10, 20, 50, 100, you know, potentially doing backgrounds, you know, research on all these different industries on the different customers. And I can imagine that the nightmare that it is to keep that all streamlined.


Joe Razza:  Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And it's just that, you know, what we're really trying to do here is it's all about data democratization. And the more people in these companies that have access to the same data, so the same central warehouse of data, the more powerful that is, so, you know, if the sales and marketing folks instead of emailing you questions are bothering you at the desk, for instance, can just simply log on and have access to that? Well, now, that frees the research teams up to actually spend more time doing what they're good good at doing research and analysis.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, absolutely. So it started about four years ago, you said...Do you know - how soon I guess how far back did you start at Knowledge Hound?


Joe Razza:  I actually was...I came in and then was introduced to Christy and our other co founder at the time, right after they met. So at the time, when I got brought on, they said, you know, we're looking to build this website, we have this idea. And it was a, I would say, at best, a rough prototype of a basic search engine that returned some results. And so I very quickly had to, you know, dive into this world of market research and understand the problem who we who we were trying to solve this problem for, where their pain points were in their journey, and then build this experience it was in. So, you know, I was in right at the start, there was the team of four of us at the time, who started all of this. And here we sit almost four years later, and were 11 strong now with, you know, various amounts of job openings that we just posted. So big period of growth here. And it's been a lot of learning along the way, going from four to 11 even.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, yeah. And that's exciting to see something kind of go from the idea to, you know, to something that's in the market and something you're actively iterating on, was there any specific validation process or maybe some key indicators that yourself or, you know, any other team kind of saw in the early days that said, Hey, this is, you know, worthy of pursuit or, you know, a specific milestone that you guys met and said, You know, we're going to do this with our early customers...can you tell us a little bit more about that environment?


Joe Razza:  Yeah, absolutely. And in part of, you know, being in in product is trying to understand that the, the beginning of the product market fit. And luckily, we we definitely understood that there was a problem did we understand that the execution was, was really the, the execution that was going to solve the problem. And so what we were looking for our earliest adopter of knowledge hound The, theprototype for the MVP, I guess they they sent us an email kind of early on where someone was able to log in and find a data point from one of the one of the studies that had been loaded in and in less than, say, a half an hour were able to respond back to a client with an answer to a question about a product that wasn't performing very well in that process would have taken them easily a day, if not more. And so we get this email back saying, you know, knowledge is, you know, blank, blankin awesome. And, you know, from that point forward, even, even though it's a low sample of one of one data point, one, one little tidbit of information, you know, that you can extrapolate that, and you know, that you have something. And so, that was our kind of early validation that we had, we had a fortune 500 client, we had an MVP product, and we were already getting back success stories. And so then it was really just about honing the product strategy and really engrossing myself personally into the the industry and really tackling the issues that these market researchers and insights folks face today.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, absolutely. And you can start to see that, you know, in this case, it's about providing the value, right, it's the value of, you know, the speed of access, you know, getting back to a client, and also, I'm sure on the researcher, so, the pain and agony would take to spend all day searching through, you know, printed files through, you know, digital files, you know, oh, yeah, people and just being effective in the process. And who knows how many other people they have to kind of nudge and interrupt along the way to try and find this data.


Joe Razza:  Oh, yeah, absolutely. The process it was so broken before knowledge hound. And even what we're trying to do today, it's it's very, the other side of all of this is it's very complicated to, to sort of teach not old dogs, new tricks. But it's really a behavioral change, as well as, as building an application that does something different. And so we're doing, you know, on top of building product, where we're trying to build supporting materials and processes that sort of help people retrain their behaviors in the way that they think about their knowledge. And so we're breaking down not only product barriers, but also, you know, verbiage barriers, and people try to put us in buckets. So in call us something that we're not. And so it's, it's been really interesting being on the design and communication side and the product side of how we're solving all of these communication challenges, and, and how we're selling and how we're making the product, does the product support what we're going out there and selling and are we doing a good job, you know, retraining people to think differently. And it's not just about storing information, it's really about instant insight activation. And I think that's, we, a lot of times get put into this big data bucket, if you will. And we're not big data. A lot of times people like to put us into a knowledge management bucket, because that's an industry term and knowledge management is a real thing. And there are there are companies out there that are solving that problem. But knowledge management is just one piece of what knowledge town is as a platform. And in order to have activation on insights, you have to well, you have to do a good job. It's it's storing and, and managing that knowledge. But that's just the that's just kind of the first layer for us.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Right. Yeah, that makes sense. Um, so you have all this data, can you tell us a little bit about the process of how, you know, someone comes onto your product, and what what the experience is, you message I'm going to start over...I was gonna say, you mentioned... I'll start from the top with that question - Yeah, so you mentioned you guys do a lot with big data, and you do manage some of the knowledge, but that's that those aren't the two buckets that you guys fall into, that's part of, you know, the whole process of, you know, getting a user from, you know, uploading their data into it, whether that's, you know, manually or through an API and then taking, you know, getting an outcome, which is being able to act on specific insights that data provides, can you tell us a little bit more about the process at knowledge found in how customers work with you on that?


Joe Razza:  Yeah, absolutely be that that's a great question as well, one of the pieces of knowledge as a SAS company is the service side of things. And so what happens typically is number, you know, one of the hurdles, and the first hurdles we face as a company is the process of taking vast amounts of knowledge, and getting that from the customer into knowledge. And so we actually have a dedicated customer success team that we work with, to, to get the data, the historical data that exists already into our platform. And we also have a service that helps to clean the raw data files. So not only do we have a product that is in and of itself, kind of disrupting the market research space to use a kind like a trendy term, but we're also going about it and creating guidelines on data quality, that is that something that hasn't existed. So you have various research suppliers, that all kind of format the data output their own way, there's, there's nothing standard about it. And so knowledge is also created the standards so that we can get more out of a raw data file, then the type of format that customers currently have. And so when we show them the side by side, as we often do, we can say here, the way that you have this raw data file allowed, you have 10,000 different types of data polls, doing it a knowledge hound, we're going to give you a multiplier of that in, it kind of blows their mind, and we do all of that for our clients. So becoming a client in handing over say, 100 to 200 plus historical studies we take, we alleviate the pain there for our clients. So as soon as we can get it, we clean it, we load it, and all they have to do is log in, and they have access to it.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, that's, that's very cool. And in one of our past episodes, we talked with Brian Reath of handshake, where they manage a lot of data and, you know, they onboard universities to their platform. And I think the commonality here is that they have a dedicated customer success team as well. And, you know, I think it's really, you know, it's the messaging combined with, you know, the SAS platform, and then also, you know, the human component of, of that communication, and educating and advocating customers of, you know, you can actually get more out of this data. I think that's, that's really cool. And that's what's cool for me to see and hear about companies that are doing it that way, it seems like human first is the way to go.


Joe Razza:  Absolutely. I mean, who doesn't love good customer service. I mean, regardless of what it is, if it's, you know, Comcast or a little SAS company, everybody loves like a good human experience. And, you know, we really helped again, to alleviate this, this new process for everyone there, they've never done this before. And we do that for them. And then moving forward, the benefit of knowledge found is that moving forward, we work directly with their research suppliers to directly ingest the data from the supplier into knowledge hound completely removing the need for our clients to have to get involved in that process. And so all they do is go is conduct the study study gets conducted when the study is done, it's returned to us in our format, and we just alert the client that hey, your new study is in knowledge on you know, go go check it out and go ask questions, go read the research, the research summary document to find out key findings. And it's a really smooth process. It's really what we're trying to create here is the whole like front to end the the start to end kind of 360 approach. 


Andrew Verboncouer:   Seaworthy is brought to you by headway. A product-focus team for higher. Headway helps companies validate ideas, build up products and grow through experimentation in technical execution. If you have an idea that you're looking to gain traction on, or a current product you're building that needs expertise with product design or development, check us out@headway.io and let's make waves. What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned while building this over the last four years? I'm sure there's a lot but...


Joe Razza:  Oh, yeah. 


Andrew Verboncouer:   Just some of the key ones that you think are kind of indicators of, you know, your current success and where you guys are going in the future.


Joe Razza:  Key lessons learned...Yeah, this is always tricky, because, well, not tricky. But there are so many lessons that learned along the way of starting any business, especially for myself, in this particular instance, I don't come from a market research background, and which some ways I think, is actually really helped me because I, I don't have any preconceived thoughts how things should be. And so for me, the biggest lesson has been that you don't necessarily when you're growing a company need everybody or want everybody to be from the industry. Because the variety of backgrounds that people bring in learning a new industry or learning new information, they can oftentimes ask the right questions as to well, why are we doing that even as a company, we continue to question well, why are we doing things this way, we could, eliminate a step for our users by doing it this way. Yeah. And another big piece of sort of just some really good learnings over the last two years has been how critical company culture is and how building company culture from day one, along with the product that you're so so heavily focused on building is how critical that pieces and can sometimes be overlooked into the company has grown grown, but having those pillars of a mission of values, and having values that are actually actionable, and traceable, and things that you can hold people accountable for have proven to be extremely helpful. And building knowledge around we've been because we've had a clear mission, a clear clear company values has allowed us to hire the right people. And I think hiring is one of the biggest challenges that most startups face hiring the right people, you know, when you're a team of four or five, when you're hiring one person, that's a large percent of the company at the time, even 10, and you just, you really almost can't afford to get it wrong. I mean, you can and but the, the pain that you kind of go through, and the debt that you might incur as a result of that can can really drown your momentum of it. So one of the biggest pieces that I've learned through some, some, some training that we went through in 2015 is just really around how important culture is and communication amongst the the core team members as you grow. And we actually just went through another round of this.  


Joe Razza:  So we originally did our company values when we are about five people. And now we're 11 and we're going to about to go through another quick growth phase. And it was it was worth a full off day of the entire company to get together and really think like, are these still our values? Is this what we want knowledge how to be? Is this the mission that we're on, and what is our vision and align this core now 11 to that, so that as we grow, it's really set in not just the four original four or five, but but all of us. So I've kind of been talking for the last couple minutes about culture, right, think number one most important thing that I've learned through my experience here at knowledge found is is that I just had no exposure to prior is that how important the values driven company is. And I think something that I brought to the knowledge round is really this idea of a design driven company in in design driven culture. Everybody here feels like a product owner. And so I might be the only product guy and knowledge calendar design person, but everybody has been empowered from day one, to be a product manager to be a product thinker. And that has really helped us to, to figure out to identify opportunities in not only our product, but internal internal things. And we we really champion that. So I was able to bring this idea about how design and UX thank you and UX practices about empathy to the user and and really what those processes look like how they can affect our customer success team and sales team and how we look at that sales like Lifeline and along the way are we empathizing it every, every critical point for the person we're trying to sell to. So there's just been a lot around bringing in kind of design design ideas into into the company culture itself. Yeah, I think that's really important for people to, especially designers who might be listening to this, you know, might be thinking, Well, how do I get my bosses thinking that design is more than just, you know, art in or the, the colors and great typography on the, on the front of the application, but more ingrained in how we do business, or how we talk to one another.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, and I mean, that's, that's a great point, you know, a lot of startups I think, miss this in shuffle of get, you know, shipping things fast, not not saying that's bad. I think that, you know, prioritizing learning is important. But at the same time, you know, doing it with the right goal in mind, in the right values. And I think it's just part of that company culture, it sounds like that you guys have it, and knowledge round of putting users first, you know, coming to the table, ego free and, and really, you know, treating all ideas as equal, you know, until you talk about them, and kind of give everyone the opportunity to, you know, add in their perspective, that's why I think diversity is so important.


Joe Razza:  Yeah, yeah, hundred percent, you hit on another great, a great key there is diversity and being open to everyone in anyone. And the value that they bring coming again, it could be just from coming from outside of market research, that that insight, once that person learns the space is invaluable, because they look at it with a completely new lens. And anytime you want to innovate in a space, you know, you can't do it from inside the rabbit hole, you need to be able to bring yourself out of that and look at it from a completely different place. And that's really sometimes where you have when you get the person who was in the space and felt the pain. And then this person who's just asking why all the time. And sometimes you just stare at each other, and there's like that spark and you go, holy cow, yeah, I never thought of it that way. And we can eliminate this process that I used to have to do, and we can add this feature to our product. And some that's, you know, a little piece of, I think diversity and backgrounds can can really benefit.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, so you talked a little bit about empathy, you know, as part of your culture, and just making sure that you understand, you know, not only the pain points, but the motivations, you know, in value that you guys create from your product. Are there some specific tools or methodology or frameworks are things that you guys use to, you know, help build empathy on your team, and also, you know, your customers and internally as well?


Joe Razza:  Yeah, so, internally, if I can probably speak better to some of our, our internal processes, just because they're a little fresher. But, you know, so, we, we've, we, we interview, we have behavioral interviewing, that is all about connecting values to the, to the candidate. And so what we get, as we get to learn about the, the people who might be coming into knowledge on on a on a much more personal basis than it is just looking at a portfolio are going through a technical interview and seeing if they have the skills. Yeah, so one thing we recently did a knowledge hound was we all took the Myers Briggs test, and that was really to kind of show one another, you know, who we are, and, and, you know, why we might be the way we are, that was really helpful in and kind of creating empathy toward one another. And I think we're all we all kind of hold that session looking, looking at each other with a new a new lens of empathy. And I think that's really important.  And in my job as the director of product, at knowledge hound is to communicate to the rest of the functions, you know, what, you know, what, what are the, the pain, the pain points that are our users are feeling and why that's done through a number of ways by either writing, you know, requirements, documents, or, or just specs, or during weekly stand ups, talking about experiences that people might have had in the application, a lot of this stuff is also captured through our customer success team. And properly, really creating a feedback loop with them, because they're on the forefront there. They're talking with users in the chat who are having struggle, and they're getting emails about successes. And so the more that we can just have a really good feedback loops of communication and things that just don't go into trial board or into an email bucket, the more that we communicate outward to the rest of the functions, the better off everyone is for empathizing with our users. So that even down to our engineers who are doing code, they're not just thinking about lines of code that they're writing, they're actually thinking about though, they understand the why they're doing it, and what it is to help. And a lot of times, even down to the engineering level will get, you know, hey, if we this design is great. But if we did it this way, or we added this thing out, I think we could actually make it easier. And that's just that's the kind of that's the kind of place you want to be when when other people are kind of working outside of their zone because they care and in order to care you need to know why. 


Andrew Verboncouer:   Right. Yeah, I mean, we talked about it a little bit more, but yeah, empathizing is so key, because then people understand the value that what the work they're doing is going to provide in someone's life. And I think, you know, when you see companies that aren't culture rich, you know, people are pretty siloed, and it's all about the hard skills and people don't get to use their emotional IQ to, you know, help make something better when they have the possibility to. 


Joe Razza:  Yeah, I completely agree with that. Yeah, emotional intelligence training is, I think, was one of the most eye opening experiences of my my recent professional career, really diving deep into who I am, and my fellow teammates and learning what it is to be a leader who has an displays emotional intelligence on a daily basis. I mean, if people haven't either read a book or taking a class and understood what that is, I would highly recommend that.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Are there any specific books that you recommend?


Joe Razza:  I don't, because I actually took I went through an eight month course here in Chicago. It's called the Hutto Institute. And all of the knowledge hound at the time went through it. I don't have any specific books, but there are plenty out there. But yeah, I mean, I don't think anything quite replaces trying to find time to engage in either whether there's a meetup group that talks about it, or whether there's a their classes in your local city, that kind of touch on that topic. It's really I think it's really important.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, definitely. So you mentioned you guys are hiring pretty aggressively right now. Right? You're growing the team? With every team member of the culture grows, you mentioned that you look for really like a value fit when you're when you're looking for hiring. Is there anything else that that kind of helps you guys hire as you're looking to kind of, you know, accelerate your growth quite a bit more from 11, you know, to I forget what you said, maybe six positions open?


Joe Razza:  Yeah, yeah. I mean, so, yeah. Luckily, luckily, for us, we just, you know, will close our, our latest round of funding, you know...


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, congratulations. 


Joe Razza:  Thank you. So, yeah, we're, we're done another phase of some rapid growth. And, and I think, again, touching on what I said earlier, it's growing, hiring can be a pretty big block for small companies, you know, we don't have HR departments, we don't have recruiters working for us. And so that time gets sucked out of hiring managers who are actually trying to do work. So while you know, we definitely use a fair mix of our network and recruiters to help just fill the top of the that kind of candidate funnel and get people in. And it really starts, it's really about our process. And we just adopted a new hiring process, one of our most recent hires, was really passionate about hiring. And so we let them run with this new idea. And this process is already paying off dividends, where we have, you know, we have value based interviewing, and that helps us to identify people are the right culture fit. And we have the technical side, which is fairly common, and for most technical based position, and outside of that, I mean, that's it, we just keep, we just keep kind of rolling and talking with one another and regrouping on people. And it's really helped us to kind of adopt this higher slow mentality, but higher, right. So it's not necessarily that we just take our time and sit on our hands until the perfect candidate falls our way. Because that can always be, you know, waiting to feel this feeling in your gut about some about a certain person isn't really what the method that I think works the best. But yeah, having this having more of a structured hiring plan is really helping us to, to find the right people a lot faster than it used to be used to take us up to eight months to find an engineer here in Chicago in I mean, that's just not sustainable. And when you're trying to grow fast and build features, and you have, you know, users that are chomping at the bit for this next, this next feature.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, you mentioned value based hiring it as part of like, the initial step, you know, before you get to tech, is there a specific name for it? Or...I'm just very intrigued by it. 


Joe Razza:  Yeah, sure. So that's what we call it internally values based interviewing. And so essentially what we do I could give you a little insight into the process if you're interested. Yeah, so, you know, we have a phone screen in the phone screen is a little kind of basic phone screen, we, we, the hiring manager, just checks to make sure that, you know, the, the, some of the technical baseline, fun foundational skills are there, and, you know, that you sound excited and personable and, and positive. And then from there, what we do is, we actually have a foreman who is in charge of the, the hiring process from them. So they, they pick, we have seven company values. And so what they do is, we'll pick three, three people in the company, and they're totally random, randomly selected by the foreman, they come in, and each interviewer gets two values that they interview on. And so I might have value own it, and customer obsessed. And there's questions that we have in our hiring docs that are like, great baseline questions to ask them those values. So then I interview on my two values, and two other people interview on to other values. And at the end of the day, we all meet and discuss, you know, the outcome of our interviews. And so everyone has a different interview, and then that's a different take on the candidate. And that really helps us to kind of get off a holistic 360 perspective, because you're not only - it's not just one person on all six values, it's three different perceptions on two different, on various values. It really it's really paying off quite well.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah. So so one person might get a really good indication that, you know, these values that they're questioned on or interviewed about, you know, they rank very highly, but on these other two, they might not.


Joe Razza:  Exactly, yeah, and then you talk about why was it, you know, the last interview of the day, and if they've been in the interview room for five hours, was it you know, was there something else that happened it, yeah, it's, it's really eye opening. And it's, again, like, when you have new employees that have different experiences, diverse backgrounds that come in and want to make change internally, we really champion that that's, again, like own It is one of our values. But in this case, it wasn't owning a task that they were directly had to do, like, build a feature code this thing or fix a bug or talk to a client. It was it was just that they experienced our hiring process came in and wanted to see if we were open to changing it. And we were and it's, it's paying off so far.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, that sounds very cool. I'm sure I'll have some more questions for you once we get off here. But, yea really good insight. So where do you see data analysis and visualization going in the next 5-10 years? There's like AI, there's machine learning. There's all these different automation type things that you can do with data. 


Joe Razza:  Oh, my...yea 


Andrew Verboncouer:   Want to make any predictions?


Joe Razza:  What a loaded question, huh. And entirely, I don't know if I can make predictions, like Watson says they can. But yeah, one of the hot topics right now, I'm actually writing an article on it is this idea of cloud computing, and, you know, can is AI like a real thing. And some of our competitors in our space are going out there, and actually marketing that they, they have cognitive computing, and we actually have to sell against that or sell to those questions. And so we're trying to do is is, is really understand where big data and I'm using air quotes, even though you can't see me, you know, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and how that's all playing with our space. So, you know, there's a lot of data in the world, we are part of market research and market research in and of itself, is vastly different than some of the social data that we hear a little bit more about, as far as the Big Data space, right. And in order to do AI, and cognitive computing, you have to have a really large set of data in order to do that a lot of our a lot of our clients don't. And so we have to sort of dispel some of those myths that know if we use IBM Watson technology, not hating on you, IBM Watson at all. But if we use you, it's not going to just be able to automatically predict what you know, the next thing that you should do when, when it comes to like, you know, washing habits, washing machine habits, and the household in America. So where I see data analysis going is definitely more automated. And that's what we're seeing. And that's what we're trying to work toward. And that's why I think you get things like artificial intelligence coming into play here. Is this data analysis becoming completely automated by a computer that can just tell you the answer to a question, and you can almost have this Google like experience where you ask these questions, and it spits out a story of like, this is where things have been and where it's going. But what data analysis I think for us is going in the next five years is, is more of a 360 degree customer centric view. So it's not just about a data point in one questionnaire. In one study, it's about multiple data points that have been asked over time in desperate studies that you might not be able to connect the dots to, but computers might be able to do that. And we're, we're looking at leveraging technology that way. But it's not also only about the raw data, it's about it's about, you know, videos, and the, the, the rich content that could be stored in a focus group video, and it could be in a verbatim somewhere, it could be in a research document for study, that's not even a raw data file. So what we're doing and as far as the data analysis side of this question is really, we're trying to synthesize these various types of data inputs and outputs, something that's more of a cohesive story for, for a data analyst, or an insights person to them to then make a more educated decision quicker. And on the visualization side, where's that going to five to 10 years, that's, that's a tricky one, I definitely see visualizations becoming more specialized right now. So you know, instead of just having spreadsheets and bar charts, and heat maps, and some of the standard visualization sets that at least in our industry of, of insights, where they've been using, and we're starting to get a lot more targeted visual, that help to understand the data quicker and by someone with less, say, statistics, knowledge. And so because knowledge is all about data, democratization, and opening up opening up raw data to maybe people within the organization that don't have the training this the the stat training on some of the the survey reporter type, or SPSS type programs, we're looking at, making sure that our visualizations are are more specific and have a lot of guard rails around them to inform to just to inform the user more about what they're seeing than just than just a bar chart and going off and making a decision without understanding the context around it.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Right. So somewhat more of a conversational type UI like recommendation. Yeah, something more, more human and more relatable than just the data.


Joe Razza:  Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest piece there for us is the is the why. Why are you seeing this? Or what might be special about this data, you know, is it weighted was it answered by everyone in the survey, and all these sort of pieces that aren't necessarily tied to the raw data that you're in the chart, but that helped to support what you're seeing. And it's really important that we, we give all of the certain all of the supporting information alongside it. So how that affects the visualizations for us, that's a for me, that's top of mind all the time, we can't risk misrepresenting the data in any way, because a potential million dollar decision could be being made, you never know.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, that's good. Kind of as we come to a close here, what advice do you have for startups that are looking to adopt a design driven company culture?


Joe Razza:  I would say, start early if you can, if you're lucky enough to be, you know, one of the early you know, kind of core team members and really, if the founders don't understand exactly what that is to help to, you know, there's a lot of a lot that we do as designers that we sometimes don't communicate to business stakeholders. And I think there's a lot of value in understanding how, you know, design empathy and design communication ultimately doesn't just have to be in a product that we're making but can be part of an internal the internal company culture as well. Designers tend to be really good at communicating naturally just from you know, the the training that we get in in school and the nature of our just kind of our our society as designers so I would say that it's just about communicating the benefits of what design and more or less design communication can do and bring. I don't have anything other anything too, I would say... like no single quotes to put on a wall but I think it's just really about constantly communicating with with the with the top people in the company and making them understand how design plays a role in bringing you know again that company culture and and helping to helping the broader business it's not just a practice.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Right, yeah that sounds good. So where can people follow you and knowledge hound, and learn more about what you guys are doing? Where do people follow Joe and then...


Joe Razza:  Yeah sure pretty easy I'm actually not all that you know I don't tweet a lot. I'm actually mostly on Instagram - I enjoy visualizing my life a little bit it's a pretty pretty interesting to go and look back and see the places you've gone and the people you've met and associate these images into experience. But yeah I mean i'm on Instagram @jrazza. I'm on Twitter @jrazza. I have a website that has a little bit more background about me so yeah, people feel free to reach out I actually really enjoy talking about design and talking about anything and sharing you know whatever it is I have that people find useful so I love giving up my time for others so if anybody wants to reach out you know it's joe@knowledgehound.com and my website has all the other connections.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Well, thanks again for coming on the show, Joe, really appreciate it. Great insights and just great learning more about you know, the bigger side of data and what you guys are doing to help customers.


Joe Razza:  Yeah, thanks a lot Andrew. It was really great to be on the show.


Andrew Verboncouer:   Yeah, no problem. Thanks again.


Joe Razza:  No problem.


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