Listen to the full episode here: DevReady Podcast E01 – Judy Celmins
Andrew Romeo: Welcome to the DevReady Podcast. My name’s Andrew Romeo and today I’m joined by my co-host Anthony Sapountzis. Firstly, I’m excited to share this podcast, DevReady has been a journey for our core business, which is around technologies. DevReady is all about how we get clarity around a concept and an idea. But we also thought about what does it mean to be involved in a project? Are you, the customer, actually ready to jump into a technology project? What do you need to know before you do this? If you’re a non-tech person, what are the gaps that you need to actually fill in to work with technology teams, to work with advisors and to work with providers to actually get you to an outcome that you’re looking for?
Andrew Romeo: Now, in the end, you might have a great idea within your business, or it might be a startup, or something that you see as an opportunity to make a difference or an impact. So what do you do now? How do you validate that concept? How do you validate an idea? How do you ensure that you’re delivering what your customers actually need and want? Once your then at that point, how do you ensure that your technology gets developed, made and built for you is actually following the outcomes that you need and to scale at that products and deliver value to your customers long term? Today we’re here and joined by Judy Celmins. Judy has been on a journey since back in 2011, where she first investigated what it might mean to develop a product that actually helps her business. She runs a marketing firm and basically looked at how could we actually establish a piece of technology that allowed us to survey and question people within rooms.
Andrew Romeo: Bringing people together, basically think of it as a form of Slack. So you bring people into a room, talk about a topic, do some market research and surveying around that. Now, that technology went through a number of durations. Through these podcasts, you’ll learn about some of the things that she learned across that journey, what went well, what didn’t, things to avoid and things to actually focus on if you’re looking to jump into a technology project. Enjoy the podcast.
Anthony Sapountzis: First and foremost, let’s talk a little bit about your background and ways that you come from and then how you got in involved and engaged for insights and what that journey looked.
Judy Celmins: Too easy. I was thinking about myself and I think really what… For me, is I’m just a born marketer. I have always been excited about this journey of finding out what motivates people, what innovates, the innovations that you can bring in that excite people to go on a journey of buying your product or whatever. Then that’s really driven all of my entrepreneurial journeys in my years, which had been a few.
Anthony Sapountzis: So you’ve obviously got, from an entrepreneurial perspective, marketing has really driven what you’ve done. So engage for insights is really all about market research and getting understanding of what, why people buy. So you can tell us a little about what’s sort you do and also-
Judy Celmins: It started off… Yeah, sorry. It started off as market research, but the more we look into it, it’s actually more about marketing. And I guess this comes from… It started because I was a research manager at a major media company some years ago, and part of my role was supplying quality data that the product team could use in their decision making. So clearly the information I was getting to them was critically important for those decisions. As part of that role, we were… Because these are the days when there’s huge amount of money in budgets and stuff, so we do it mostly on the phone and face to face, unlike today’s online technology more. And then my job… Well, of course, I would listen in to the phone surveys and I started to hear boredom in people’s voices. They really care less about what we were asking them and what responses they were giving us.
Judy Celmins: Of course, that’s a big problem because if I’m relying on this data and we’re trying to make some big decisions, then they’ve got to be able to go to the product team, “Yes, this is good, this is as good as it’s going to get, etc.” So we started experimenting back then with engagement. I’m talking about 20 years or ago now, so it’s a long time ago when people weren’t really into this. Market research has always been quite a clinical process, rather than a creative one. We experimented a lot with…. Bring the team together, we’ve talked about how could we improve this problem and we’d come up with some ideas, we’d implement them with the team, then we’d look at the findings again and then we’d experiment a bit more. And in the end, we just developed a bit of a technique that brought… Increased the attention to what we were doing. And we made it more about the respondent or the person. So no, I hate even calling them respondents by the way because they are-
Anthony Sapountzis: It’s a clinical term, right?
Judy Celmins: Yeah, exactly. We wanted to try and bring that creativity, things that were done in marketing terms and we wanted to bring that more back into line with what we’re doing in market research, so we could get that better quality result. And ultimately, it really did prove successful. You could hear… I listened back in on the calls, you could hear the engagement, all that. And look, you always get the odd person that’s clearly not interested, they don’t want to be rude. So I always gave permission for our interviewers to go, “Hey, thanks. That’s the end of the survey. Well, that was quick, wasn’t it?” You know, and go, “That person is not interested. And I never penalised anybody for doing that, because I just felt that was better for the quality anyway.
Judy Celmins: But the point was that this journey took us on was that there’s no way I could be involved in boring research ever again. I could never do it, it just didn’t make any sense to us. So it really did start the journey that has become an adventure of course in developing software and I will talk about, and making it more about the people. Yeah, Engaged4Insights was born.
Andrew Romeo: Oh very, very good.
Anthony Sapountzis: Were those surveys voluntary? Were people paid to do them?
Judy Celmins: No. That was… In traditional, no, surveys were never incentivized in the old days. And we actually started introducing that 20 years ago and I know we were one of the very first to start doing that. We started doing prize draws, movie tickets and those sorts of things, which of course we had access to being a media company. So that was all pretty easy to do. And those sorts of things do help. I mean, you have to be careful with that. It’s not quite as blanket as say… Because you don’t want people to just do a survey because they’re going to be paid, or they’re going to win something. There is a fine line but it’s, it’s more than that. It’s more than just rewarding someone. It’s making them feel… In the end, as humans, we’re actually wired to be in a community. We love to be involved in things, we don’t want to be isolated.
Judy Celmins: And that is actually one of the problems we’ve found with, again, surveys as such. And something that I’m still got in my head that I’d love to create one day is, making it more of an engagement and more community based. Social media has highlighted that in a big way.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yup. The influencers have their own little communities and that’s another avenue you can drive things through that. We had a client who we used to work with, he used to tell us about some focus groups that he’d go to and he’d go to three, four a week and change his name and just get the 50 bucks from each one. So I can only imagine the quality of data that some people can provide you.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. And you know, I have… Look, everyone has their own technique of recruiting for these sorts of things. But we certainly were very fussy and trying not to get those types of people in the integrate folks group. Because they can drive the response. Market research is a science, it’s not as black and white as sending out a cheap and dirty little tech survey, which has become really trendy now. And that I think actually is even damaging market research. And one of my big bugbears at the moment is that tech is fantastic, it’s come up with some amazing ways for us to reach out to people. But one of the challenges currently is that it’s… Okay. I saw an article recently about a major retailer in New Zealand, they are a global company, but they’ve introduced a little survey at the end of the transaction. So you put your credit card in that store. In fact, I bought something from them and experienced it recently and they’ve really annoyed me. I put the credit card in and they’ve got a survey I have to complete before I can finish my purchase and then really annoys me.
Judy Celmins: I actually just got angry and I said, “I want to cancel out of this.” Or you can just.. And even if I did push the button, am I really involved in that process?
Anthony Sapountzis: It’s forced upon the person actually buying. Which isn’t a great way to actually build a good experience where your shop is really. Especially if you’re an employee, I think that’s even worse.
Judy Celmins: Totally bad. I just found it offensive. Because the other problem with… And like I understand a lot of execs are driven by KPIs these days. Their job depends on whether… If they make their KPIs. And unfortunately a lot of that’s also the KPIs are coming from surveys like NPS and satisfaction scores. But there are also staff that could be sacked because their satisfaction scores weren’t high enough. I’ve had instances where dealing with… I had a removal as company and I’ve moved a few times, and the guy said to me, “I really need you to fill it out and if you don’t give me a good rating, I’m going to get sacked.” “Oh my God, so he’s actually begging me to give him to fill out the survey and give him a good tip so that he can keep these job.” I mean, is that actually really-
Anthony Sapountzis: That’s what I’m always… I’ve just experienced that myself. Like, you get that sort of question. It’s like, “Oh, can you write me an honour rating? Otherwise… Oh, just if you’re happy to give me a rating that helps me. It’s like, what’s the point of actually doing that if you’re going to be guiding the person to do X, Y, Z. I mean, losing the actual… The benefit of actually asking the survey, or the question. It doesn’t make any sense, but yeah, if you’re driving KPIs based on those numbers, people are going to put in these questions and they’ll probably say, “Please help me.”
Andrew Romeo: Gain the process?
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. Anyway, the bottom bottom line is that I guess now that we tend to avoid… We just don’t do those sorts of things. We just don’t want to get involved in that sort of research. In some of our clients, they use large market research firms that actually do the questionnaire and we just get supplied the data and we start doing the analysis for them. And I have to say every time we are just about tearing our hair out and go, “Oh, why would they even ask that question?” And because I do a lot of open end evaluations, so it’s one of the jobs most people hate. But I actually really like it because I get to read and I’m laughing the whole time. I’m reading these crazy comments that people make and you go, “Oh look at this, this is crazy.”
Judy Celmins: But you start to really form a story, and that’s actually what’s really critical in our marketing now. Is it’s all about stories, it’s about the story you on earth from the data, it’s not just numbers. If you can find the story, find the real understanding and passion, then you’re in a completely different wavelength with your clients and you’re opening how many new opportunities that you never knew existed.
Andrew Romeo: Okay.
Anthony Sapountzis: So the story helps guide the innovation moving forward and what they uncover for the new outcomes and goals.
Judy Celmins: Absolutely, yeah. That’s about it.
Andrew Romeo: You talk a lot about fun and creativity in your research and your surveys. What are I can get more of a better understanding of that. And then you’ve obviously built some technology around that aspect of it and how you’re driving that through. Take us a little bit on that journey around what fun means and-
Anthony Sapountzis: How do you make it more-
Andrew Romeo: … some examples of what fun is and then we’ll go into that.
Anthony Sapountzis: … how does it become more engaging for people?
Andrew Romeo: Yes
Judy Celmins: Yup. So thank you for the question because it’s… And it’s actually not a simple black and white question or answer rather. It starts from every single interaction you have with your audience. If you are sending out… I’m going to put it this way, if you’re a marketing person and you’re sending out an EDM, you clearly… You’re not going to put something that’s not directed towards the time, that’s not in their language. That’s not about enticing them to read your message and get involved in your business. Yet, if we send an invitation via email for research, we all of a sudden get clinical about it.
Andrew Romeo: Okay, get it.
Judy Celmins: And I even read things like… I actually did one. I haven’t got the example sitting in front of me, but I got her an email, I’m going to pick on a cup… I can pick on any number of businesses and they all say the same thing. But the one that’s stuck in my mind is Last Pass. I did a free trial with Last Pass and they sent me, at the end of the free trial. I didn’t upgrade because I had the free version anyway, and it suited my needs. And they sent me an email saying thanks for giving Last Pass a try, can you do an odd survey to help us? And I went, “Why?”
Anthony Sapountzis: And there’s no point in it for you, right.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. And you know what, it comes from there. To make it fun and engaging for people, you start by the first invitation. Now, he could have turned that around, he could have even done a little cute little video from the founder and it could have been, “Hi Judy…”. First, he didn’t even attention it to me. He said, “hi there.”
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, that’s not
Judy Celmins: Well, I signed up for a free trial, they emailed it to me. Firstly, they should have said, “Hi Judy,” This is basic EDM stuff, right? And I’ll guarantee you that in their normal marketing communications, they would never, ever have done that. But for some reason there’s this separation that market research has to be technical and clinical, and not creative. Totally the opposite. In some of our media clients, we have some real fun with the invitations. Then of course with media we’ve got some different opportunities than what many small businesses have, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. So one of them used a comedy writer and oh my God, the letter, the invitation was funny and so on target. It hit the rail. Like, I can’t even repeat it. It was real brawl language.
Andrew Romeo: What do you think about it from that perspective if you are looking to engage those people, right? If you look at an example of against the Last Pass, that’s the general way it’s been done. So what would the engagement numbers be like if you’d go and do something and be more creative and fun, and have you seen a big shift? Is it basic numbers that you-
Anthony Sapountzis: a gif in the email to make someone laugh?
Andrew Romeo: Yeah, a gif, exactly. What sort of numbers won’t you see? Did you see the differences?
Judy Celmins: Yeah. Well, even with our software that we designed, there’s many challenges within market research that people drop out. You go on a panel, people will invite you regularly to do a survey. And quite frankly, after a few you’re pretty over it, unless you’re making money. Like you’ve mentioned with your first friend is doing focus groups. Unless you’re just doing it because it’s part of your job, and most people don’t by the way. They’re getting a little couple extra bucks or whatever, the chance to win something. The point is that there’s nothing in it for them, so you drop out panels is substantial. The other problem that is pretty big for the industry and clearly for businesses, because if you’re not getting the right data, then that’s the near end that will affect your decision making, is the fact that so many people don’t complete the survey. Another example, last week I got a survey from a supermarket chain here.
Judy Celmins: They’re using a very big global company to run the software programme, I’m very aware of it. And they talk about doing things that are engaging in community based. I got halfway through it and I thought, “This is boring. It’s nothing.” And I’m very… I’m open minded and, and I try and put myself in the shoes of the people doing it. Because I think that’s really important, and that’s part of the UX of software design too. So just the same place, right? So I’m a great one. Test stuff on me because I’m super, super critical but I’m not abnormal, you know? This is what happens, is the people go halfway and think, “Oh God, I’m over this. How much longer?” And you might go, “Oh, I’m only halfway.” “Oh Lordy. Do I got another 10 minutes to waste, or do I even want to waste another minute of my time? What’s in it for me?” So even if you get to the end, drop off is a huge problem. When you take into the consideration that maybe 1, 5, 10%, depending on how lucky you are, open your email to start with.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, there’s no big number, is it?
Judy Celmins: No, we’re not talking huge.
Judy Celmins: If you’ve got a timeframe on and if maybe you want to do it on a… The Last Past is example. Okay, they’ve got… At the end of the free trial, they obviously have a standard email that goes out to everybody within three or four days of completing, get them to fill out a survey. I mean, I could actually visualise the exact meeting. “We’re not getting the turnaround, the premiums, quickly find out what’s going on, send out a survey.” And so they’ve patched together one of the quick tools that you can get online. Yeah, it’s all about them. They haven’t given any thought at all into what you’re going to get out of it or the people experiencing it. When it comes to answering your question about what makes it fun, it’s a package of things. It’s thinking about… I love thinking about game of the character, so using what gamers do and they’re getting better and better at it. You can use some of the things that they’ve learned in gaming.
Judy Celmins: How have they managed to keep people using the software? How do they get them to go onto the next level? How does it feel when you’re playing a game you, are you on your own, are you in isolation, or are you part of a team playing? And there’s some really cool things that… Because I confess to the world now that I do play the old game on the phone. But again I like to do it and I’LL go, “Oh, how have they done that and why are they doing that? They’ve obviously good steps behind that.” I think as market researchers we should be looking at those sorts of industries, more social media has taught us an enormous amount about, how we like to engage. If you think of all the different ways that people enjoy communicating and they just go online and spend hours just reading what other people are doing.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah.
Andrew Romeo: And watching them play games.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes, that.
Judy Celmins: Yes, thanks. It just says so much about the way we’re wired as humans. And when you start understanding that, then you can communicate with them better. And in the end, research is about communicating with people …
Andrew Romeo: Okay. In essence, you’re looking at it from your perspective. It’s more about a communication engagement to get actually quality survey and people into the survey rather than just throwing out, “Here’s 10 questions, good luck. Please add some feedback and let’s hope somebody answers those things.”
Anthony Sapountzis: I think we did something like that on Monday for one of those products. We just added a survey, multiple end of a support ticket, just so we can get some feedback.
Andrew Romeo: We require feedback. It’s what we could do differently.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, that’s the point now, I think.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah, very good. In essence-
Judy Celmins: Well, that’s what everyone’s been doing for so long. I guess what we feel our role is, is to try and tell people that, “Just please stop doing that,” because one, it makes. You know the favours at all. If you’d send it to people that actually like you and think of you. So another thought process. I remember a business guy once saying to me, “The most… The lasting impression that your customer has of you is the last impact.” So if you’ve had an interaction with them, they’ve maybe done business with you, that you all got on well and all that sort of stuff. Then you go and send them a survey. So what’s the last impact they’ve had from your business? It’s the survey.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, that’s wants to like a sporting world, for example. So you’re only as good as your last game, and it’s the same thing in business. You’re only as good as the last communication, impact, result. So that sort of ties hand in hand really.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. And I think if we just remember that and stop and think before we go and send some quick fix server without thinking about the person that’s answering this question, “What’s their life like?” I mean, I often think of it like this. That if you’re sending a survey anD you choose a time to send it, if your target audience is, let’s pick an easy one, so your target audience is some moms with kids. You wouldn’t send it at nine o’clock in the morning and you wouldn’t send that at three or four o’clock in the afternoon, all right?
Anthony Sapountzis: Sure.
Judy Celmins: Because they’re picking up and dropping off kids. But you might, if they, maybe if they’re a stay at home mom, you might send a 10:00, 10:30, because it could be a perfect opportunity to sit down with a cuppa and you would say that in your invitations. So you would go, “Oh, kids just go on to school, sit down and had some fun with us. And participate in this little thing,” and you make it about them.
Andrew Romeo: In this, it’s more of an engagement and sales process to get people into a survey, is really what you’re saying. You’re not-
Anthony Sapountzis: You’re selling them into the survey.
Andrew Romeo: … something and you’re attracting them in and you’re engaging in the target market. Hopefully, they target market based on product. In essence, taking that information through to survey, yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Anthony Sapountzis: Wait, which one of all of the tiny bit of that when we send out communication on LinkedIn?
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Anthony Sapountzis: Which one targeted around when someone can have their coffee break, or their smoking break?
Andrew Romeo: Yeah.
Judy Celmins: Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: I’m just trying to push something, a link, because that’s when they’re going to be on their phone, maybe looking at it at nine o’clock, since they get inundated with whatever else they have to do for the day.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: Let’s just get one small aspect that we follow but you’re opening up our eyes to a lot more.
Andrew Romeo: So Judy, just parent back and lean towards… From a technology perspective, let’s talk a little bit more in there. Now obviously, you’ve mentioned on social rounds, you’ve gone down that path from develops a technology and help assist with what you’re doing from the market research piece, the survey piece. Can explain a little bit of what your current product is and then we’ll explore a little bit of that. Chatting in how you went down.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, why you went down the customer rather than what’s available.
Judy Celmins: Basically, there was nothing else available. We did a look around… We looked around at a whole pile of different options, but in the space that we wanted, we felt was right for where we wanted to go and the insights that we wanted together, which was more of that community based stuff and making people feel engaged. There just really wasn’t a tool out there, you could… Slack wasn’t even invented then, so…
Andrew Romeo: Yeah, that’s back in 2011 there.
Judy Celmins: No. So very very early days. And I remember the first development team, we went to see a guy who’d built a website for… I mean, I knew nothing about this, right?
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Judy Celmins: So you just had this idea in your head. And I remember a friend of ours said, “Dream big Jude, you can create anything these days. On the creative side, it’s really easy to dream and think big. So I went to see this guy who developed a website and he just shook his head and he went, “Way over my pay grade, dude. No way.” He was really sweet, and he said, “Oh, it’ll cost you at least a hundred grand.” And like, “By the way, if it cost us a hundred grand, I would be kissing this guy.”
Judy Celmins: But it was… So that was our first experience. Then someone else went there introduced us to another development company in LA. Really nice guys, and they got really excited. It was weird… As I said, we were pretty much talking about developing the first Slack at that stage, or a version of.
Andrew Romeo: Okay.
Andrew Romeo: That’s how most things were done. It was… Let’s say you want to do, like you said, the industry is basically evolved and everything, pretty much until the limit, was fixed bid, waterfall model that scope out something that’s maybe six months of work, 12 months of work and hope for the best. And that’s where industry started, and it’s obviously evolved in there. But you obviously walked right into it.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, then the other way you’re going to get changes happening is if you start raising change requests and then get much head on cost on top of that.
Andrew Romeo: Pretty much, yeah.
Judy Celmins: Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: And then they just upset the customer most of the time.
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Judy Celmins: Absolutely. But I guess, again, because we had no idea, we’re complete novices and there’s not even much online that you could search for how to do this thing. So we actually had a friend who was pretty high up in Nokia at the time as a newbie tech. And he just shook his head and said, “Oh, it’s wild.” So it was just a little one of those things where you went, “Okay, well let’s just try this out and trust people,” because that’s what you have to do. The bottom line was it didn’t go well and… Because, I mean they clearly got excited because they could see the huge potential if we were able to crack this code of bringing… Because the breaks really was, we want to bring as many people around the globe as possible. Like anywhere from all over the world into a room to be able to chat to each other.
Andrew Romeo: Okay, so Slack.
Judy Celmins: And of course their brains is going, “Oh my God, this could be like a huge collaborative tool.” And yes, in their heads, I know that they were dreaming of what Slack became. But for the 137,000, they quoted us, three months later we had nothing and we’d gone through all of that 137,000 and we still had nothing. They were about to go broke because they just couldn’t afford to keep bank rolling it, but they made a commitment. In the end, to be honest, I knew they were going to be unable to deliver what we needed, so I got them out of their contract. It was not going to work. I guess I’m a bit of a… Maybe I’m crazy, but to me it’s got to be… It’s got to work. The relationship’s got to work both ways.
Andrew Romeo: That’s a key point, Judy. Like, when you’re talking about something like technology, it is a risk from all parties because generally you’re touching on unchartered territory. So in that instance there was nothing, it was unchartered territory and that was a concept that was born apart. When you’re sort of jumping into a project, some awareness around technology is clearly one… It can be new and innovative, so as a customer walking into that relationship just be aware of that. Because if it’s been done before, we probably wouldn’t be building it. And then two, from a company providing that service, just be aware that, “Yes, the customer needs to be taken through a process, and the journey of, ‘Okay, we’re here, this is where we want to be, but let’s take some interim incremental steps.'” And that’s probably not where you sort of started and that’s probably what you’ve learnt along the journey. After that experience, what did you do?
Judy Celmins: Tore our hair out, swore a lot. All of the above.
Anthony Sapountzis: Was there anything you could work with?
Judy Celmins: Yeah, a little bit. Not much.
Anthony Sapountzis: Okay, all right.
Judy Celmins: While she got her phone, I actually ended up taking over project management because that was another thing I learned a lot about. And again, we’re talking very early days of the industry. I’m not picking on people because as you see it’s all the early days. But one of the guys that was one of the key engineers, coders that was working on there, and I got on really well with him, and he… I only heard it was going bad when he rang me from the car first thing in the morning and he said, “I’m just reading it from the car park of my new job.” And I went, probably to yes like, “Huh?”
Andrew Romeo: Good one.
Anthony Sapountzis: That’s a great way to watch that in the morning.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. And he said, “I haven’t been paid in a month.”
Anthony Sapountzis: Oh shit, okay.
Judy Celmins: And I just can’t survive. I’ve used up my savings to try and keep working with you and with the company, he was with. But in the end, “I can’t…” I said, “No, no, no, no. I don’t work that way.” So I paid him.
Anthony Sapountzis: Okay.
Judy Celmins: I just don’t do that. I just don’t feel like that’s… Again, people may call me crazy, but I just don’t do that. And then I employed him because he’s already taken full-time job, which was a bummer. Because had he have come to me first, I would’ve said, “Oh, that’s easy, just come and work for me? And we’ll do it together.”
Anthony Sapountzis: Okay, yup.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah.
Andrew Romeo: It would have been early in 2011, yes.
Judy Celmins: And just didn’t hold up for us. We got it to running an experiment but during the process it just kept falling over and you go, “Oh my God, this is just too stressful,” just don’t need the stress. It’s got to work or it doesn’t work. And then we nearly walked away from the whole thing thinking this is going to work, and then I tried really hard to ring, at that stage. Again, it’s naivety on my experience. So I rang a couple of companies, half done code that didn’t work. No way in a world where they’re going to touch it.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, that’d be… Anyone would be weary about that.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah, there’s obviously that, “What are we getting ourselves into?” Type of thinking.
Judy Celmins: Exactly, absolutely. And clearly before I met you guys, it’s… But I didn’t actually start working with a development team in Europe. In fact, of Latvia… My husband’s of Latvian descend said that was somewhat drover.
Anthony Sapountzis: Sometimes it’s what we know or who we know, and not what we know. Yeah, that sort of drives the decisions you made.
Judy Celmins: Yeah, it does in the end. And I guess because we have relatives in Latvia. I looked at India and Asia and things, and I just felt, I don’t know, it just didn’t feel right to me. It’s probably to explain that. And again, without experience I feel like I’m struggling enough to get someone in Australia to do this, why would I go to someone I can’t understand?
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah. You going in blind makes it.
Andrew Romeo: … just a step back, how long did it take you to get to this position? So you’ve obviously developed the software not working, got on this not working after hour.
Judy Celmins: This would be about over 18 months.
Andrew Romeo: 18 months, okay. So you come to the decision that we need a team and we’ve gone to Latvia now?
Judy Celmins: Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: So it would be early 2013?
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Judy Celmins: It’s been a bit scary process. But all through this, I kept going back to my partner in life and in business errands, and say, “Are you sure this is what we actually want to do?” And I’ve sent him off to do another business case for me, so I guess this comes back to one of my marketing and business background, is that I need to know is there a market out there? Because we talk to businesses about it, but it was so new and so foreign that they just go, “Wow, sounds interesting.” In the end, that was all I get.
Anthony Sapountzis: have people people that end up using it at the end of the day?
Judy Celmins: Yeah, it’s really hard. I mean, I remember someone, not that long ago actually, telling me, “Oh, I’d build a new CRM stands for Client Relationship Management. A CRM system is a digitised process of keeping your customer interactions and details....” And I thought… And I said, “Well, we just did this and we tested them.” They say, “CRM stands for Client Relationship Management. A CRM system is a digitised process of keeping your customer interactions and details... is different,” because everyone knows what the CRM stands for Client Relationship Management. A CRM system is a digitised process of keeping your customer interactions and details... does.
Andrew Romeo: Yes, there’s actually witness as to what you’re building, right?
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. And if you’re going to a niche market with a CRM stands for Client Relationship Management. A CRM system is a digitised process of keeping your customer interactions and details..., well that’s easy. You just go to that niche market and go, “What do you need your CRM stands for Client Relationship Management. A CRM system is a digitised process of keeping your customer interactions and details... to do?” Well, actually, quite frankly. that’s shit easy. Excuse the language. I would something that’s simple.
Anthony Sapountzis: That’s very straight forward.
Judy Celmins: But we were doing something that was totally out there and just sounded weird in many, many ways. But we kept reading blogs and stories from people that kept saying, “Oh, you’ve got to reach… You’ve got to listen and talk to your customers.” And then they’d be asked, “Well, how do you do it?” “Oh, I’m not really sure. Just go and approach them in the street. You know, you can stand there on the street corner, or in the shopping centre,” And you go, “Oh my goodness, there is a better way guys.”
Andrew Romeo: There must be a better way than that, right?
Anthony Sapountzis: People still do that, it doesn’t work.
Andrew Romeo: They do.
Anthony Sapountzis: I don’t know how many people have to knock back when I’m walking around.
Judy Celmins: Yeah, exactly. And then of course you were starting to see some online focus groups coming out, but again, not driven on engagement at all, so that wasn’t going to work for us. In the end we did use the team and after our experiences, the one thing I can say that was great was certainly their work ethic and their attention to detail. What they did was fabulous. That it’s still a journey that cost us way more than it really should have done to be honest.
Anthony Sapountzis: How did you find communicating with that team? I know there’s a language barrier, but not having a technical background, saying, translating what you’re after to clear enough specification for them to understand, to deliver what you’re after.
Judy Celmins: Great question Anthony. And I think this is where I underestimated the… Again, my naivety. It’s like you think you can speak English. I can even read all my speak techs talk, so I’m pretty… I’m a communicator. So you don’t think it’s that hard. And I would write out what I expected something to do, but it was no way near in the style that they needed it to be in. And that was a massive learning curve. I do remember one instance where we had the code audited afterwards, and…. I’m digressing slightly, but it relates back. The guys said to me, he’s looked at the code and he’s gone, “Wow, how did they do this?” And I said, “Well, I didn’t know this?” I said, “Well, why would they,” I said, “Well, I just said I want this,” and I’d give them one that they to do, that was my outcome. That I wanted to see something that would maybe frustrate me with using a particular thing. And the guys said to me, “MailChimp hasn’t even worked out to how to do this to me. You guys have nailed it, this is amazing stuff.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah, it’s cool.
Judy Celmins: But again, because as you said Anthony, I didn’t know what I was asking for, I didn’t realise I was asking for the Taj Mahal. Well, it’s not going to work.
Andrew Romeo: Yup.
Anthony Sapountzis: Well, on that relationship, how did you approach that? So when you went to this Latvian team, you basically, you found a team, how did you go about finding a team one? And then two, what was the working relationship you probably got it from, “Let’s not go down the fixed price route?” Or, how did you actually approach it the next time?
Judy Celmins: Yeah. Combined things. Firstly, finding someone who would take on our code because I wasn’t prepared to throw $100,000 in the bin. That’s my practical side of me just says, “I just can’t stomach doing that.”
Andrew Romeo: Well, there’s an investment to be put in but you’d have to go try and leverage as much as you can.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. But what I guess I didn’t understand, and if I understood now, is that you could use the learnings from there, and in fact make better, and that is, I think, one of my bigger mistakes. I paid them on an hourly basis to fix the bugs. Now, that ended up probably costing us another $100,000.
Anthony Sapountzis: Just a fixed bugs, yeah, okay.
Anthony Sapountzis: Okay path.
Judy Celmins: So we ended up having all of the bill anyway and stuff. But you don’t see that when you’re sitting there paying the bills and you just go, “I’ve got this thing. It must be worth something.” Like, “I’ve got the shell of a house, why can’t I put a couple of more supporting walls on it and make it stand up without falling over?” for example.
Anthony Sapountzis: Just quickly, did you change technology?
Judy Celmins: We did, yeah. We actually went to Angular in the end. We kept notes for some aspects, we did actually… We successfully got money through the RND in Australia and because what we were trying to do was sign new at that terms, there’s nothing like it. So that doesn’t help when you keep… And of course, RND, if anyone’s gone through the RND per se, they actually want you to experiment and fail. They like failure, so-
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, they I appreciate that. That’s what RND is all about.
Andrew Romeo: You learn from
Anthony Sapountzis: It’s about… You start the whole process.
Andrew Romeo: We can do this, this might be able to happen. And then you drive them in, have you refrained the outcomes that you’re trying to achieve?
Judy Celmins: Yeah, exactly, going through that. And I think there were some challenges of using an offshore team. And one of them was certainly the RND process in Australia. Having a team that understood that process better in Australia. I think, again, mine though, I’ve got the most amazing degree now that’s cost me a fortune. But what goes on in my head now, the knowledge I’ve got and how I would approach it next time is completely different. I wouldn’t hesitate to use the findings and ditch it and start again. And that I think was what not got explained to me early on. It was like, I remember reading a company in Sydney at the time when I was looking for a development company and they said 250 bucks an hour, plus project management and we started all over again, nothing you’ve got to useful.
Andrew Romeo: And did they look at it or even understand that?
Judy Celmins: No. They weren’t even interested.
Andrew Romeo: Okay, so they weren’t interested.
Judy Celmins: They wasn’t really, I just suspect they weren’t interested. They basically 00:42:19].
Anthony Sapountzis: They were trying to force you out of the project?
Andrew Romeo: Yeah.
Judy Celmins: Yes.
Andrew Romeo: That’s probably the mentality, and I don’t appreciate that mentality because in the end, you have someone that’s looking for help. You’re looking out for help and people come to you. It’s like, how do you guide them? We’re approached from time to time with the same sort of thing and it’s still happening today on duty, it’s not just you. You did this in 2011, it’s a scary thing. Is it still happening today?
Anthony Sapountzis: We’ve had three people in a similar situation in the past month.
Andrew Romeo: Yes. It’s pretty scary to think, what’s going on in the marketplace and they haven’t had that experience that you’ve had. They’re basically going in with the same blinkers on thinking, “Okay, yeah. This can be easy. Let’s put a hundred variants of this and we’ll get a result in the end.” And they don’t really get anywhere.
Anthony Sapountzis: Even from a development business approach, getting someone else’s coat is always going to be a hassle.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah, it’s a challenge.
Anthony Sapountzis: You don’t know what it’s done, how they did things, what their thought process was, especially if there’s no documentation behind it, which there rarely is.
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Anthony Sapountzis: Try and understand how to piece it together. That’s a process in its own. And there’s another project, before the project actually has to start from our end.
Andrew Romeo: Not having a company even looking at what you’d had is probably, yeah. Just not interested. But yeah, it’s still happening today where people just ignore from a development perspective, just don’t want to get involved in that risky project, which people coin it and don’t want to help. I think it’s-
Judy Celmins: I’m curious though, Andrew is it because from your perspective, so I’m turning the interview back the other way.
Andrew Romeo: No it’s fine.
Judy Celmins: From your perspective is that because you look at some people and you decide that they’re not really going to have what it takes to make this happen? I mean, they have not got the commitment within themselves or the company or why would you not? Why would you turn back? Why would you not help people through the process? is it too hard?
Andrew Romeo: I thought… Maybe from my perspective, there are instances where some people are just not open to going down the barrier of the education so 00:44:28] they really want to take on the advice. And sometimes it just becomes too hard from a perspective of, okay you’ve gone that… Like any great example I can give you. About month ago, I had a lady approach us. She got a few quotes on a project, ended up. The lady had a grand mark, right? She went down that path already, which I had a conversation around that. She ended up trying to do things on her own accord. Put about 15, 20 grand into it.
Anthony Sapountzis: She found someone who would do it for yes, 16, 17,000 something like that?
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Anthony Sapountzis: And she went with them instead of the people that then provided an $80,000 quote. So already, they should have been.
Andrew Romeo: Some red flags coming up, right?
Judy Celmins: Yes.
Anthony Sapountzis: And it’s a quarter of the cost. There’s no… And then she’s coming to looking for help, but then not willing to take on any advice. The advice that we gave was, “Okay, let’s just get a grip on where you kind of project is. What we can keep, what we can’t and get an understanding of that.” And she’s coming from the perspective of, I want this, this, and this done. And this is what I… This is the time frame I want it done by and it’s basically the terms of push forward. And so, I think it’s so naive.
Andrew Romeo: And it’s not even in the list of things to work on. She said, “I want a feature corrections.” And that was how she defined it.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah.
Andrew Romeo: You can’t get any more open ended than that.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting when I met someone a couple of years back and she was a… She had appointed some development team to do an app for her. And she was dying to pick my brain on obviously my journey and how I can help her. And I started laying out a few ideas and she’s sitting in there and their eyes are getting broader and she’s just going, starting to… I could see the panic-
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah. Because there’s so many unknowns.
Judy Celmins: She had already lost 40K… Well, put 40 K into it? And I just… We’ve just talked about, we’ll come up with a budget that you’re prepared to lose. But also understanding exactly what you’re talking about. Maybe we should write a joint book.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, potentially. It’s plenty information here.
Andrew Romeo: We attack it from both angles-
Anthony Sapountzis: I think we can take can attack the other angle. We’ve had a group out of Singapore that are developing a product overseas that I’ve repurchased recently. And they’ve been open to advice because they can see that what they’ve done is not working.
Andrew Romeo: They understand the limitations. They don’t know anything about the tech. They don’t know how to manage the project.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes.
Andrew Romeo: They know that they’ve got challenges and we’ve come on board as an advisor to help them with the process.
Judy Celmins: Okay.
Anthony Sapountzis: In essence, you’ve got to be prepared to walk into a relationship and help the person or the company for what they need. Sometimes like in business, we just throw people out, this isn’t what we do. In essence, they needed just someone coming in and just helping them frame a project management at this stage. Yes, so the developers that they’re working with… Let’s continue down that path because we don’t know what we don’t know right now.
Judy Celmins: Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: We’ll assess it and see how it plays out.
Andrew Romeo: Try to manage that process.
Anthony Sapountzis: Is attenable, that’s fine but we’ll look at another angle. But if we can make it manageable work, that’s probably the place that’s going to solve the problem right now. In essence, it’s… We throw on our services to people generally as businesses and that’s probably a mistake that businesses made and we’ve done that in the past. We’ve said, “All right, we don’t do that. We do this.” But the realisation is, the customer’s on a journey and they’re in a place where they’re stuck and the problem we’re trying to solve here is, how do we get them to next step. And if you take that realisation into anything, what’s your outcome? What’s the next step and how do you get there? That’s really where you want to start at so-
Andrew Romeo: As long as they were willing and want to have them feel the same way from their end.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes.
Andrew Romeo: Because either way, it’s not going to go ahead because either the development company doesn’t want to get involved with something that they’re not aware of.
Judy Celmins: Yes.
Andrew Romeo: Or the customer is coming to you, thinks they know everything. And that’s why they’re in that position they’re in. But that, I want to change anything they’ve done. And if you don’t change, how are you going to improve?
Judy Celmins: Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes. And I think, what I can learn from you is, you’ve got a learning mindset. The mindset from your perspective is, all right, you’ve come a long way. You’ve invested 120,000 something dollars into your first project, but you’ve gone another hundred grand just to fix bugs. And then, I can’t imagine how much else you spent on this thing. Yes and it keeps growing and growing. Yeah, but the experience that you’ve gathered from it, where are you now? What do you, or what position are you in now and where does I currently sit?
Judy Celmins: The software is complete and works and is actually sensational. It’s doing everything we want it to do. In the end, I guess for us the winning was… For us, actually I can’t tell you how exciting the very first session… In fact, every session is 00:49:04]. We get it 00:49:06] and I stopped chatting. And then at the end, they actually thank us for making it so much fun. And we now have… It’s interesting because we’ve got like a… We call it like an avatar GPS. We’ve got this system inside where we know where they are, so they can wander through the room. It’s a virtual room. They go wander through each room, which is full of its own multimedia in each room and a different discussion they had.
Judy Celmins: You have a different discussion in each room and it’s like having a wandering date, you’d walk through a hotel and each room has a different surprise. You walk into each room and you discover something new. And we can track and see where everybody is. And it’s so much fun sitting there watching where people are, how they’re interacting. We did a study not so long ago and it was clear that we were their entertainment. And they clearly had it on their tablet level and their mobile. They may have even been watching telly in the background or whatever they doing. And they’re involved, and they’re reading everyone else’s comments and getting involved in it, having an open discussion. We did… I love, it’s interesting.
Judy Celmins: We did one in Ireland the ages ago and the Irish are just as funny. They write just as funny as they sound and make jokes as 00:50:29]. But they are… I figured if clearly we make an anonymous because it’s about security and privacy and that’s part of why we don’t use social media style connections and things, but that’s where we let them know who they were. They all would have been down the pub having a guess. They would just be having so much fun. That’s really cool. I remember presenting to a market research, traditional market research company. And we listed all the rave reviews we get from people used to the platform and 00:51:05] looked at us. You don’t get that with research, well we do. So-
Andrew Romeo: You’ve 00:51:10].
Anthony Sapountzis: We just say competitive advantage in your space was what you’re doing differently?
Judy Celmins: Yeah, it’s just actually… You know what it is thinking about the people involved in it. Too much research, my opinion and it clearly it has to be this way. You look at it from the client’s perspective, you understand what the client’s trying to achieve from the answers and its objectives and you write down the questions and you never ever have heard a market research company go, well, your respondents, your users, your customers, the people that are actually using this then they’re giving you the answers. Then no one thinks about them and their journey and their experience. Because there’s an old saying that I worked in a radio network very long time ago and the old saying was, “If your listeners are happy, your clients are going to be on board.” It… And, and it’s the same thing with these.
Judy Celmins: If you have got your audience participating in your survey and they’re loving it, then you’re going to get the results. That’s just… It’s really 00:52:24] very. It’s really very simple. But we’ve not… We’ve looked at it against in this clinical researchy scientific perspective all the time. That really is what we change and I’m still determined that we’re going to change it with other types of surveys as well and-
Andrew Romeo: It’s brilliant, what you’ve actually achieved and come up along that journey. Just to peek back a little bit.
Anthony Sapountzis: Basically we’ve developed over the last three to four years with through our learning and the process that we had a product which is really a consulting piece of work. Which is DevReady. And that really drives the in on the research of your stakeholders. We are engaging with the couple of people now that look at more of a… And I think we have to have a chat with you a little bit around the actual users of research and then more diving in on that perspective. It could be a conversation we can have later on. How we add more value into that offering. It’s all about getting real clarity around outcomes driven focus. Because generally people come to you and they’re like you said, you’re trying to develop the product.
Anthony Sapountzis: But what is the outcome of that product? And then that product that you’re trying to develop may not even be what you need to deliver upon that outcome. It’s really early stage getting an understanding of the business, the challenges that they may have building awareness in on that. And that’s really what that process is all about. Getting it quickly to an MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is the first version of your product that you can release to.... That’s what we’re framed and what works well for us in terms of how we educate our customers. And that’s the question I sort of had for you. What are the key pivotal points in what we do 00:54:07]? He’s always looking at the vision of what your product may look like and basically getting a good understanding and clear picture. Now back in 2011 you would had a vision, and I like to ask this question because generally we have an outcome that we’re trying to achieve.
Anthony Sapountzis: But what do imagine that to be within software is not necessarily what comes out at the end as the best result. So from 2011, you look way back there. You had a vision, you had an idea at this collaborative room where people would come in and you have some sort of fun market research. Where you are today, how would you describe the differences and their learnings they had to journey from where you thought you’d been to where you are now?
Judy Celmins: Yeah, I think I wouldn’t say a polar opposite. But it’s certainly… And for a bucket load of reasons, it changes. And it should change. I actually really liked the Slack story and I know that you guys know this. But let’s say we’re developing some completely different product and it did in work and then they actually developed Slack as a way of communicating within the team and then they turned that into a product so, consequently that rest is history. But… And things do change. You changed by, I guess a simple example would be when we started, Mailchimp wasn’t very good. And Mailchimp was much as good as it was.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah. They want to be dominating the market and-
Judy Celmins: That’s what I meant you would use.
Andrew Romeo: That was all back then, I read 700 newsletters.
Judy Celmins: And then you add to that, the clients that we were working with, which were predominant media companies were completely disorganised. So things like an EDM and any sort of email mailing system wasn’t heard of. When we went to them originally and said, “Well, we need to email out to your listeners to get some feedback.” They go, “Oh God, we don’t, how’s that going to automate?” We actually had to build our own Mailchimp inside the system. That’s not needed now.
Andrew Romeo: That’s right.
Judy Celmins: We rarely use their whole side, which was a messy part of our development. We then tacked on, in fact very much of the last few months before development. We realised that the market had changed and we were so absorbed in the product. They did not see what else is going on around you often. And we realised that since we’d started this whole thing, things are so much changed. We actually now developed an iteration of it so that you could access the room via URL and made that whole thing so much simpler. And with Zapier integration as well, but we had to introduce so that it could hook into whatever system they used. Whether that’s 00:57:09] and HubSpot or whatever it is.
Judy Celmins: It’s… That changed completely. The actual guidelines, the actual room, the virtual room that we use didn’t change very much. Because still no one’s going in. I mean, I think what blew us away was that 2000 and in fact, it was 2009 when we developed the concept and started. Eric started talking about this crazy idea and I thought he was off the planet and I’d send him back 00:57:42]. Now go and have another drink, deal or play 00:57:46], play your instrument again, because he’s a trumpeter. Go and blow the trumpet a bit, because I think he needs to let off his mistake. It’s gone a bit mad in there. But, then a couple of years later and he wanted to keep going with this concept and we really thought this is a no brainer.
Judy Celmins: This is so obvious that someone’s going to beat us. And we kept thinking, well one of the big guys will get in there first and so that was… Did form a big part of our process to market at the early stages. Because it’s not patentable. It’s an ID. You can copyright anything. But he just change a few things and anyone can do it.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s where we have 2,500 CRMs these days.
Judy Celmins: Exactly.
Anthony Sapountzis: There’s not much you can do. Yeah, so would you say the objective never changed? You’re outside-
Judy Celmins: Sorry, I was.
Anthony Sapountzis: Would you say your outcome never changed? What your core outcome, you were focusing on.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. No, it didn’t. No because I really in the end what we were looking for was a place that people could gather to talk about a brand as part of the brand’s team and enjoy the experience. And that’s exactly what we started with. And that’s exactly what we ended up with. And ironically, we’re still the only one that does it with engagement.
Anthony Sapountzis: Okay.
Judy Celmins: Yes.
Andrew Romeo: But the way it’s been done, these things.
Anthony Sapountzis: Where I’m sort of leaning that is, your vision and your big picture is where you need to start your product from. What will change is all the functionality around it. When you’re developing a product and you can give me some of your feedback on this. My sort of thinking is like anything, we need a God, we need a vision, we need an objective and if we don’t have that, we just got this functional driven development. We ended up being going no man’s land. If we start off with a basic goal or a picture of what we want, all the functionality to get there may change, in your instance it has. Your email marketing component has completely changed. The technology behind what you’re doing has completely changed.
Anthony Sapountzis: But still you focus on delivering that outcome and you’ve let the rest evolve and the learning evolve and change the way you’ve done it. That’s the learning that I’ve had and what actually works in development. Love to hear your feedback and does it make sense from your perspective?
Judy Celmins: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think if got… If your core premises is, well certainly for us. Our core premise never changed, but the delivery to market has definitely changed. It’s gone through many iterations. And I think that’s true for any business anyway because-
Judy Celmins: Yeah, and the market changes. Your expectations change, to other technology comes on board. Other priorities happen in business and so you know… I think one of the big things for market researcher and us, is that it’s seen as often as a nice to have, not a must have. And our form of research is even more of a nice to have. Now, in our opinion it’s a must have, but we’ve got to communicate that and that is… It’s comes down to a communication challenge and an education challenge. Because we’re so used to descending out something that doesn’t involve the audience, we’ve been quite frankly happy to bore our audience and to just accept that’s the way it is.
Judy Celmins: It’s really is educating people. Even… Actually I really like… It’s so many people say they’re customer centric. But then you dig a bit deeper and then they’ve put a funnel survey and sorry, that’s not customer centric. It’s means you’re finding out information. You think you’re finding out information about your customer to make you better in the customer’s eye. But in the process of doing that, you’re upsetting your customer. Is that what you meant? Is that really your motivation? Jeff Bezos said, the amount of startups he talks to and he said they believe they’re customer focused. And he said when you talk to them, they’re actually competitive focused.
Judy Celmins: And what I mean by that, is that they’re focused on features. If your whole life is chasing to be… To have another feature that’s better than the competitor, then it’s a competitive focus. It’s not about that, it’s about what are the features of your customers are actually using? What features make their life better? Well, how do they use your product in order to make their life better or their experience with you more engaging and better? You can’t find that information by having a survey.
Anthony Sapountzis: What you’re sort of alluding to there is, all right, the world is starting to wake up. And because of social media, we’re in a place where customers now and people can actually give immediate feedback on service and quality of product. And we’ve only entered this world recently, so we’ve only been in it for five, six, seven years.
Andrew Romeo: physical friends anymore.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes some people with businesses are starting understanding customers reported. But I think your point is really valid. Where we basically, still can be tied into the fact that if we’re competing with their competitors, what can we build to be a little bit better than them rather than just go direct for the customers like what do you actually need? And learning from that experience. But sometimes the customer doesn’t know what they need, but that’s okay. But just being around your customers or being involved in what they’re doing day to day, how they’re utilising your products, like from your perspective, how they’re utilising your product within this survey, within the virtual room. I’m sure you’re managing and watching that and learning from that and then evolving the product from there.
Judy Celmins: You raise a really good point, Andrew. That people don’t know what they’re going to do in the future. And again, this is where an open emotional, relaxed conversation isn’t necessarily going to analyse what they’re going to do in the future. But they can tell you a bit about their life. You can… When you understand more about your target audience and what motivates them, what drives them and all the stories, their individual stories, that’s when you can start getting creative within a team environment and come up with solutions that solve the stories. Uber is the most perfect example of this. The taxi industry would never have ever been able to create Uber.
Andrew Romeo: No.
Judy Celmins: Because it just would have been impossible for them to do this. Because they would’ve not gone. They wouldn’t have asked the right questions for a start. They wouldn’t have identified how people are using it.They’re just going, “Well do you like the cleanliness of our taxis? Do you…” Well, they would have known those sort of issues. They would have known things like, taxi drivers get lost and I ended up playing. All sorts of things that we know about taxis now. But of course with Uber, they broke the mould and sometimes it takes understanding. And in Uber’s case and in Airbnb as well those who start, they actually were the customer.
Judy Celmins: They’ve stepped out because they’ve gone, why can’t they hear me? Why can’t… They don’t even ask me the right questions. I mean, I did a survey years ago in another life, one of my entrepreneurial spirits. I owned a pet shop and that was fine.
Anthony Sapountzis: Okay, do you… We’ll talk a bit. Dogs, cats, what sort of 01:05:42].
Judy Celmins: It was quite interesting actually. Because I opened the shop and never ever wanted to sell live animals because I thought that that was not the way to go. And I think I’d been open for about a month and I’m going, no one’s coming through the door. I’ll put a fluffy kitten in the window and see if it brings anybody in. And literally, I had all these hoards of people come in the shop just to pat the kitten. And then a guy gave me then, he had a litter of sharpies that he’s pure breeded.
Judy Celmins: And he said, “Do you mind if you try and sell them?” I put them in the shop window during the day and he’d take them home at night. And oh my God, the people that flooded in the door and I went, “Oh, I’m going to sell live animals.”
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes.
Andrew Romeo: It’s what customers want. Isn’t it Judy?
Judy Celmins: Exactly. And that’s exactly, you’re totally right. Yeah, that started a whole new journey. The point that I was getting to is, I have a survey sent to me by a local pet shop about six months or so ago. And I know what I would do if I had to pet shop still. I know exactly because I’m a passionate pet owner and I know the emotions behind owning a pet but very strong. They’re family members and so looking, care and the whole thing is a different thing altogether and emotional.
Judy Celmins: Not one question or one opportunity for me to actually share with her. She did some things right. She introduced herself and said she was the marketing manager and wanted my feedback, tick. That’s a great start. But again, standard set questions that didn’t give me an opportunity to explore what I could have added. I actually could have given her a lot of insights, given my background. She’ll never know that. And I missed out on an opportunity. If you have a chat, a casual chat with people and then you’re more likely to understand their motivations in life.
Judy Celmins: And then when you do that, you could have found out the challenges that you were facing if you were developing the next Airbnb or Uber for example. And that’s… But there are so many cases in history, new Coke. So many test cases of doing enormous amounts of research and doing it all textbook, right but still not understanding what the market wanted them to do.
Anthony Sapountzis: Actually want, yeah.
Judy Celmins: And that is a challenge. And I don’t think you’ll ever overcome that because people don’t. We’ll never know what they’re going to do. They don’t know what future tech is going to bring. They don’t know that… What’s going to happen in their lives and what that shapes and what attitudes that changes. However, if you understand enough about their personal drivers, if you segment your audience and understand the niching of your target, and then communicating with them as a niche, bringing together that form, that community, you unearth the whole pile of stuff. What we see in our conversations online are people… Someone will say something and then someone else will chime in and go, “Yeah, I have that experience as well.” And so all of the sudden you have a splinter conversation. And we keep it focused on topics.
Judy Celmins: As I said early on, it’s like a topic in room so that you can discuss that one topic and that was a big part. And it does with… We come up with new ideas and sparking ideas with our clients now all the time. The customers are part of that. And we also involve them in the process afterwards. Letting them know how important their feedback was and what they actually did to contribute to the company’s growth and people love that.
Anthony Sapountzis: Well I like how everyone likes to be a part of something bigger than themselves really. If we could share some more information about our experience and help somebody else or I think everyone likes to talk about their worlds and their experiences and if it helps someone else, it’s about value really. So, quick question for you. Now, if you were to jump on and you’ve mentioned you’ve done this before with someone that’s developed an app or went down the technology path and said, “I’ve got an idea.” What would they be the first place you’d recommend they start or think about or look into? What would you say, start here before we go anywhere?
Judy Celmins: The third… I might sound a bit obvious as a researcher.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes.
Judy Celmins: But the first thing I would do is to talk to the audience and I wouldn’t go… I think one of the biggest problems many people do is they might go to their family and friends and saying, “I’ve got this great idea. I’m going to create. I’m going to get rid of taxis and I’m going to just drive my car around and 01:10:47] just going to pick up passengers and job’s done. Then I’m going to build a little app so that they can just book me whenever they want.” They’d all think you’re insane. And you’d get the black hatters of your friends and family guys, you crazy mate. That’s not going to happen.
Judy Celmins: No one’s going to trust getting into the car with a stranger, which we know through reading that was one of those biggest problems they had to overcome. But the point is, if you go into a conversation and you go… If you went in to your friends and family and you heed your excitement a little bit and you go, “I’ve got a bit of an idea I’m playing with. I’ve really liked your experience of how you use taxis. Do you find any challenges with a lot of things that you would like to improve?” So all of a sudden, you’re getting… You’re having a conversation for start. You’re not imparting your dominance on that position.
Judy Celmins: And you’re finding out whether you are a lone wolf and you’re the only one 01:11:48] better problem with the dragon… Getting in the taxi before or it’s actually a common thread. You go from family and friends, so you’ve just had conversations over a drink in the pub and on the back of the coaster, all that stuff. And then you start exploring it and getting it out and to further market. You have to find out what the problem is first that you’re solving.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes. It’s the real cool. What’s the root cause that you’re solving?
Judy Celmins: Exactly.
Andrew Romeo: You can always keep that in focus.
Judy Celmins: And even when you’re 01:12:19], like so many… Even if you’re a company and you need some procedure software that makes life easier in a team. Even talking to when the team and working out exactly what their issues are, small as they might sound, understanding those first and then solving the need. I really believe if you do it that way rather than you getting all head up and excited. And in some ways, that was our fault and our problem. We didn’t probably do what I do now. And that was because people would say there was… Yeah, it’d be great to be able to talk to people. But when we should they didn’t know how, it was just a blank.
Judy Celmins: Well, I don’t know, I’m just going to send them an email. Hope they answer my survey as I said before, I talk to people on the street or whatever. It has been a little bit more of a learning curve. I have a favourite story of the guy who invented the shopping cart. Do you know he paid customers, people to put their shopping 01:13:28]. His shopping trolley around for two years before anyone could think about using it.
Anthony Sapountzis: Interesting.
Judy Celmins: Of course you remember when the day when… And those were of days you went to an old fashion counter-
Andrew Romeo: And they would load them up.
Judy Celmins: And you said, I’ll have a. Yeah, so we are talking about… Again, 01:13:46] adapter. So… Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: And that’s a good sign, his role basically-
Andrew Romeo: On top of doing the research and understanding key problem problems and having that in focus, if someone else listening was going through a similar journey to what you went through or is about to start, what are some of the key takeaways they can try and focus on to try and-
Anthony Sapountzis: Pick up
Andrew Romeo: Overcome some of the challenges even that you went through before they even get them? It’s a couple of points.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. I really think I need to write the book. It’s… I think really, next time I’ll actually… Next time for me, I feel like I could project manager. Because I feel like, I’ve learnt the language I need. If you’ve never done this before, you need someone that you’re prepared to pay or you get a partner in that loves the idea that’s had the experience in the tech world. You absolutely need that person that can speak the language that understands what MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is the first version of your product that you can release to... really means. Because it’s closer to the minimal viable product for somebody who has a dream is different.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yes.
Andrew Romeo: You get the
Anthony Sapountzis: Spring year development process, yeah.
Judy Celmins: Yeah. And that was like something I learned the hard way. And, I would… As a novice, either have very deep pockets and they’re prepared to learn. Employ someone and be prepared to pay for them and stick with your idea and go for it or partner with somebody who likes your dream and wants to share in the rewards of it if you go that way. But you absolutely have to have somebody on your team. I think ideally outside of the company you engage, that’s big… And then it makes it easier for a company like you too, I would think, to communicate with somebody who’s on the right page, who understands where you’re going. And-
Anthony Sapountzis: It’s more about the process, right? And I think you’ve touched on a really key pivotal point there. If you’re going to engage a third party development team, definitely have either someone on your team or someone else, third party vetting that process. At least you know what you’re getting and you’ve got some oversight as to what’s happening. Because I think people get a little bit lost and they jump into a development project. They don’t understand what development standards are. They don’t even know they exist. What testing processes are. They don’t know. You can automate certain things and if you write code in certain ways, you can test them. If you write them in other ways, you’re going to be having three or four people testing every single feature and you’re going to have a problem down the train chain all the time probably with your product. So just getting real clear on standards and processes is one thing I would recommend to anyone out there.
Anthony Sapountzis: That’s looking to jump into this price, but yes if you can engage your team, have someone on your team that they can understand at all, tick. Or engage in another third party that has some credibility that can help and advise from that top level, so yeah-
Andrew Romeo: If you know you’re in over your head, don’t try… Don’t stay in there on your own, pretty much-
Anthony Sapountzis:, its like easy one right now.
Judy Celmins: I was saved. I only want to know how much money I would have saved, so-
Anthony Sapountzis: Talking about that, if-
Judy Celmins: Yeah look, if I had… So of course up front originally, when you’ve got this idea and you’ve got to fill in budget and your mind, the last thing you want to do is go, I’ve got to employ someone now and it’s going to have another 30 whatever. Whatever percent on top of that 25% or something on top of that cost. And you go, “Oh God, why would I want to do that? I can do that.” Yeah? I mean, I’ve done project management. I’m not… I’m highly organised. I should do this. The hell, my God. If I’d known now what I know, there’s absolutely no way I wouldn’t invite someone.
Anthony Sapountzis: Okay.
Judy Celmins: It’s like I was actually talking to a guy the other day and he’s about developing some other idea that he likes. And we sort of… We seem to be working pretty well together. And he said, “You might just go off and do this in your own.” I said, no.
Anthony Sapountzis: I think that’s an interesting point.
Judy Celmins: 01:18:16] interested, so he’s a techie person. So perfect from my perspective, because he saw that huge problem when I don’t. You guys are nice but quite frankly, I don’t want to deal with the engineers and the pedanticness of… In this case and this scenario. I mean, I’d get used… I get these emails of the big guy, well that doesn’t work. It’s if the user clicks on this button then dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And you’re going through this quagmire and this maze and I go, “What the hell? I just wanted to work guys” You know like… And you have to think of every possible outcome and scenario. Just not my bag-
Andrew Romeo: It’s a different thought process to be exact details-
Anthony Sapountzis: It’s very analytical-
Andrew Romeo: Analytical and workflow-
Anthony Sapountzis: Driven person
Andrew Romeo: Process driven-
Anthony Sapountzis: 01:19:10] some of the visionary top person I’ll see probably your bucket-
Andrew Romeo: I’ll be all over those emails.
Anthony Sapountzis: He just loves diving into detail.
Andrew Romeo: I’m the one that wrote it up and made it confusing for you.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah, so-
Judy Celmins: But even if you are a process driven person, it’s different in the tech world.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah. You have to have that technical knowledge to put it together and know what works, what doesn’t.
Judy Celmins: Well and actually understanding, because it’s a learning curve in itself. I mean I don’t mind prices. I’m quite comfortable building the processes within my own business. But when it comes to building tech, that is not my thing. Anyway, the point is, to answer simply, don’t even… To anyone listening, who thinks that they’ve got this fantastic idea and it’s just going to employ someone from overseas and on Upwork and they’re just going to develop the app and it’s all going to be all awesome and they’re going to make 1 million bucks, yeah. Maybe go back to the drawing board.
Anthony Sapountzis: I think we can all agree on that.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah. I think we’ll leave that as the key take away.
Judy Celmins: Yeah.
Anthony Sapountzis: 01:20:14] I said, get some help. That’s like anything in life, right? If you want to learn how to… If you’ve got a weight problem, then you want to lose weight get someone that’s going to help you get that. If you’ve got a smoking problem, get some help you get that. If you looking to get on and educate yourself in a business world, get a mentor. And I think if you look at that from a perspective, if you want to build tech, get a tech mentor. Get someone that’s done it, been through it. I think Judy, you’d be a great mentor to someone that’s jumping on board with that sort of the world you wanted to live in. And actually guide them through what the key channel of channel people’s might be.
Anthony Sapountzis: So if you’re out there listening, find people like Judy that wouldn’t be interested in having a conversation and just sharing their knowledge because just hearing your thoughts and stories would give you a lot of different questions you need to be asking and a lot of processes that you have to have along the way.
Andrew Romeo: Or share this out with as many people as you can and get the word out there on what to avoid and how to do things.
Judy Celmins: Yeah, I really do think. I get quite scared for people that… By all means dream, because the world’s full of dreamers. And we wouldn’t be where we are without them and I put myself in that category. But, just learn from the huge amounts of money I’ve wasted. I’m not doing it-
Anthony Sapountzis: And you’re not the only one.
Andrew Romeo: You’re not the only one.
Anthony Sapountzis: There’s thousands of others out there in this world, yeah.
Judy Celmins: That is everything, you know? There are so many people who are losing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, by just not following simple advice. Which is invest a percentage of the project into someone who’s on your team. Someone who gets it from your perspective. Who understands your dream. Who will get to deliver the outcome and work with people like you guys that… So that you can do it together and make it happen. That absolutely, it’s the most critical aspect I believe.
Anthony Sapountzis: Yeah. I think that’s the only way it’ll work if you’re doing anything with anyone overseas.
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Anthony Sapountzis: Here you can find a team that has that people involved.
Andrew Romeo: Potentially, yeah but I still think-
Anthony Sapountzis: As you have done it yourself.
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Anthony Sapountzis: You definitely need that. There’s no other way around it.
Andrew Romeo: You’re going through the learning curve and in essence your backing, your choice. The team that you choose is really… They’re going to either be a great team and get you the result or they’re not going to be able to educate you through the process and you don’t know if-
Anthony Sapountzis: We don’t learn this stuff overnight.
Andrew Romeo: No 01:22:43] experience.
Anthony Sapountzis: We’ve gone through school and-
Andrew Romeo: Yes.
Anthony Sapountzis: You live and use a business to get to the owner. We understand that-
Andrew Romeo: to education and Uni and learning how to code was not really where it all gets learned.
Anthony Sapountzis: No, but that’s the-
Andrew Romeo: Technical projects-
Anthony Sapountzis: Technical knowledge.
Andrew Romeo: It’s a styling of learning, right? So we are always learning, always evolving. And our business started out as a business that we jumped in and were developers and we thought it’s something. But in essence we’ve come a long way and it’s really about the problem, like you alluded to. It’s about the customer in the end and what you’re solving for them. It has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the technology. Technology is really just a way to scale out-
Anthony Sapountzis: It’s a tool.
Andrew Romeo: It’s a tool. Exactly, so still business
Judy Celmins: And that’s a really good point, Andrew. To maybe finish it on, is that in the end, the technology is nothing. It’s whether, it’s going to be used. It’s really the means towards the end which is providing a service or whatever it is that you’re doing for either your team or your customers. Yeah… When I met Anthony originally and I thought I’m really excited that you guys are doing this and giving him this direction because it’s… And I’m pleased to see the evolution of the industry. It needed a rocket up it when we started, and-
Anthony Sapountzis: I think, I believe it still does.
Andrew Romeo: Yeah, majority of them.
Judy Celmins: But, No. I can answer because I was bored with it. Yeah, and then but it’s good to see that I think… With incubators and stuff that are happening with tech guys and things. There’s a lot more training on aspects of it. But if you are like me, no experience, it’s a daunting process. I… Yeah, it’s great that there’s options like you guys out there now.
Anthony Sapountzis: I appreciate you taking the time to have a chat and share your story, your journey, and thanks again. And yeah, love to learn a little bit more about your market research side one day. Let’s have a chat off this podcast. Yeah, talk a little bit more, but thanks again for your time.
Andrew Romeo: Thank you Judy. Have a great afternoon.
Judy Celmins: Yeah, thanks for the opportunity guys.
Andrew Romeo: You’re welcome