SalesTechStar Interview with Jean-Philippe Durrios, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operations Officer at DISQO
To beat the biggest challenges arising out of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial for sales and marketing teams to double-down on their martech and salestech investments and adoption. “Given how rapidly consumer behavior is changing week-over-week, you need to meet them and be top-of-mind where they are spending most of their time,’’ feels Jean-Philippe Durrios, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operations Officer at DISQO when sharing a few thoughts in this interview with SalesTechStar.
Because, in every economic crisis (pandemic or recession), winning companies typically emerge from those difficult times leaner and meaner. “That’s why Sales and marketing organizations need to fully leverage the insights and features offered by their respective tech stacks to maximize their impact,’’ adds Jean-Phillippe. Catch the complete story:
Can you tell us a little about yourself Jean-Philippe? And we’d love to hear the story behind DISQO…
I’ve been in the online media, martech and SaaS space for about 20 years. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of several growth stories at companies like Overture, Yahoo, MarketShare, Neustar, ServiceTitan and now DISQO, and have also learned a lot from a couple ventures that didn’t work as well.
Well before DISQO, our founders were friends and colleagues who had known each other for over a decade. In 2014, the trio made a keen discovery while developing a demand generation solution for the market research industry: fragmented data was adversely affecting data quality, which was costing enterprises trillions annually.
To solve this problem, they sought to create a platform that empowered every marketer and insights professional with accurate data and tools to make confident decisions. Holding the belief that true insights are only possible when you have accurate data from real people, they founded DISQO with the mission of engaging people to share their opinions and behaviors openly, creating the largest fully first-party identity-based research audience in the United States in the process.
Of course, the path to creating an insights platform that is trusted by Fortune 500 companies, employs close to 200 individuals globally and has attracted millions of people to participate in its audience was no easy feat. The early days came with their fair share of long days and weeks for the co-founders, but it wasn’t long before they launched their first solution in 2015: a fully first-party and permissioned audience panel for market researchers.
Since then, DISQO has released several significant expansions, ranging from the DISQO Audience API in 2016 to our innovative identity-based behavioral Ad Measurement solution in early 2019. This focused and consistent growth has been made possible by the data-driven approach our co-founders have inculcated across all aspects of the business.
How have the last few months of the pandemic been for the team; could you talk about your experience during the Covid-19 lockdowns?
The only way you win in a crisis is by seeing it as an opportunity to beat the competition. COVID-19 resulted in challenging times for everyone — creating serious health risks as well as financial uncertainty for businesses and individuals alike.
Our core company values put our people as our #1 asset. As we re-engineered our financial plans to account for the impact of COVID-19, we enacted measures and created plans to ensure we would maintain at least 12 months’ worth of cash runway, at any given point during the pandemic, while making the conscious decision to keep all of our team, even though we started seeing declines in revenue. As a result, our teams rallied to move faster, innovate and go after opportunities where competitors were retreating.
We were fortunate to be able to go remote essentially overnight, as all of our systems and solutions have been cloud-based since inception. While we are operationally and financially prepared for the pandemic’s worst-case scenario, our business is currently tracking against our best-case scenario, recovering from our expected May trough.
All of this has been done while staying true to DISQO’s mission, which is to engage people to share their opinions and behaviors openly and to help our customers make the right decisions. The pandemic has disrupted consumer behaviors, and clients are increasingly turning to DISQO to better understand their audiences and how they can adapt their products and services to appeal to shifting consumer expectations and needs.
We believe in ethical use of consumer data that informs brands on how their customers feel and behave. Our business model is to create a platform that enables consumers to share data openly with privacy and transparency in mind. COVID-19 further catalyzed our model, accelerating the emergence of new products, such as digital market share for brands, retailers, investment funds and intelligence platforms.
We’ve taken advantage of such opportunities by accelerating our hiring and go-to-market plans, and are already seeing a strong customer response.
What are some of the biggest takeaways sales, customer success and marketing teams should grab from this entire experience of working and living through a global pandemic? What are the top learnings you feel tech entrepreneurs should keep in mind from the year 2020?
Commitment to customer success, especially during the sales cycle, remains paramount. When the pandemic started, we told our employees that we are in this together and would navigate the crisis, together. The same has to be with our customers. We aim to forge long-lasting, trusted partnerships with our customers. That sometimes entails, to the extent possible, making the right investments to provide some short-term relief in difficult times. For example, when in financial distress, we’ve been able to be creative with our customers on payment terms and licensing fees to provide the much needed temporary relief to help them quickly get started or recover.
You also have to stay reachable. We’ve extended the hours of our support coverage to make sure our users get the support they need while dealing with the challenges of working from home, some of them as single parents. We’ve also extended our channels of communication to adapt to their needs as well. For example, chat support may be a more convenient form of communication than phone or video conference for our customers, when they have kids running around the house or are sharing a workspace.
Investing the time to really understand your prospects’ pain points and recommending the appropriate solutions for their particular needs sets the tone for your relationship and the value you’re going to create over time. Show empathy for your customers as they are going through truly disrupting times, and to the extent possible, provide that differentiated touch that will brighten their day. Surprise them with a personalized note or gift. It’s not about the cost, it’s the gesture that counts. It will go a long way.
How are you seeing marketing and sales plans in the digital ecosystem evolve to create better impact during this downtime? What kind of data and tools are you seeing teams use more of during this time, to help them understand their customers better?
Understanding shifts in customer behavior has become more important than ever, given how people have accelerated the adoption of digital services due to the pandemic-related restrictions to our daily lives. To add, audience segmentation and audience buying are also becoming more popular. With DISQO’s proprietary panel and 100% opt-in behavioral audience, businesses can gain a complete view into the evolving consumer journey, helping to better understand their needs, interests and the path to purchase.
Due to the slowdown in air travel, we’ve also seen professionals now more open to online pitches and interestingly, more accessible than with traditional outreach strategies. With digital meetings, people are more in control of their time.
Last, but not least, video conferencing solutions have tremendously benefited from the pandemic, providing a more personable touch to online interactions.
What according to you are some of the long-term effects of this pandemic that will stay with sales and marketing?
Travel will remain affected for quite some time and, as mentioned above, has materially changed the sales process. That being said, humans are social creatures, so it’s reasonable to expect that trade shows and other events will come back. But will their format be the same as before? We shall see!
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DISQO is a next-generation consumer-first insights platform that delivers unprecedented data and analytics to the market research industry. The company powers insights professionals and marketers with automated solutions that drive consumer research and improve ad effectiveness. Today, DISQO delivers an accurate and complete view of the consumer journey via technology built on the foundation of first-party research from millions of engaged consumers. By engaging consumers who choose to share their attitudes and behaviors, DISQO captures the highest quality data, empowering its clients to make confident decisions. Founded in 2015, DISQO is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and has over 160 employees.
JP Durrios is an organizational leadership veteran with over 20 years of experience successfully scaling numerous technology companies. As the Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operations Officer at DISQO, Durrios ensures that the company is well positioned to continue its stellar growth in an operationally sound & fiscally sustainable manner.
Prior to DISQO, Durrios was the VP of Strategic Finance & Operations at Service Titan and the VP & MD of International Marketing Services at Neustar. Durrios also has business management and analyst experience in a variety of other companies including Yahoo! and Overture Services. Durrios holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego as well as a Master’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Strategic Management from Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School.