FOUNDER FEATURE: IF YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER, YOU’RE BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE

Kristi Zuhlke, Founder, KnowledgeHound, contributor

By September 5, 2017, 6:01 pm EDT

    Consumer packaged good (CPG) companies have massive marketing budgets we know this – think of every Olympics P&G commercial that aired. But did you know that on average 47% of their marketing budgets are spent on marketing research and yet today there are very few tools to search, categorize, and sift through all those reports? Think how frustrating it would be to spend six figures on a report and then not be able to recall it?

    In steps Kristi Zuhlke, Founder of KnowledgeHound, a young Chicago startup building software for Fortune 500 companies to manage these reports seamlessly. Not only does she have a great product but she’s built a great team on values and culture that is truly inspiring. Techweek CEO, Amanda Signorelli, sat down with Kristi to learn more.

    • Amanda: Tell us a little about your company today.

      Kristi: We believe in data democratization. We believe that when organizations and people have access to data, they can make better and more impactful products for the world. We are on a mission to democratize data throughout the world and starting with helping organizations find and activate their own data.

    • Amanda: “Data Democratization” – that’s a powerful idea. How did it all start?

      Kristi: The company was started in February of 2013, when I took an idea I had written on paper in 2010, when I was working at Procter & Gamble, and decided it was time to take the idea from ink to reality. I thought the concept “knowledge management” was broken for the market research world. I started to solve that problem but realized that really it’s not about having all your documents in one spot, it’s actually about getting to business answers faster. This refocused the business on solving the problem that data is locked in silos and how you can free that data to unleash insights and create action inside companies.

    • Amanda: This is clearly an untapped opportunity and you’re building something that has enormous potential. What do you credit for your success as a leader: attitude, talent, experience?

      Kristi: There are so many things to credit for contributing to why I am where I am today. I’ve had amazing mentors in my life including my parents. They have taught me to have a positive attitude and to dream big. I credit my career experience at Procter & Gamble for teaching me how to be a leader and critical thinker.

    • “We are on a mission to democratize data throughout the world and starting with helping organizations find and activate their own data.”

    • Amanda: Your humility, positivity, and focus is incredibly inspiring. How do you think about culture?

      Kristi: We, as a company, created our core values. We use these values to give each other good feedback on a weekly basis. Every Monday we have a company stand-up to give updates on the business. At the end we wrap up with sharing appreciations to each other for living out different values. We also use these values to hold each other accountable. It’s a great framework to give someone feedback by saying, “when you do….this is not consistent with….value.”

    • Amanda: What a great framework – it’s clear you’ve leveraged so many different experiences and insight to create a really wonderful company. What’s one piece of advice you would offer to others?

      Kristi: Being an entrepreneur is a marathon, it is not a sprint. I had the impression before starting a business that it took 3 years to create, grow and exit a business. Little did I know it takes much longer. Know that you will go through daily, weekly and monthly ups and downs but it’s a marathon so that high or low will soon be over. Keep your eye on the long game so you don’t wear yourself out and so you don’t get too discouraged or depressed when things are really bad.