If you don’t always question what you do, and how you can do better, who will?
Rudy Nadilo has been a leading force in advancing the marketing research industry by revolutionizing the manner in which that data is both collected and reported on.
In the late 90s, Rudy shook up the industry as CEO of Greenfield Online, where he pioneered the use of the internet to transform the way researchers collected data. That experience earned him a reputation for being one of the leading forces behind the inception of online research.
More recently, Rudy has been an innovator in the field as president of North America for Dapresy, a Swedish marketing research technology provider that has made radical improvements in the way market researchers report on data via online dashboards. Rudy came upon Dapresy in Europe four years ago and has since then introduced its data visualization tools to North America.
His lengthy career spans packaged goods, advertising, product management and marketing research. Rudy has served as CEO, marketing director, technologist, motivator and turnaround expert, as well as the sales “force” behind the sales teams where he has been engaged.
According to Branding @ The Digital Age by Herbert Myers and Richard Gerstman, “Rudy is a recognized expert in online marketing research, consumer panel behavioral information, database marketing, the use of retail scanner information to support the marketing services industry and the application of computer technology in these fields.”
Where did the idea for Dapresy come from?
Dapresy was the brainchild of my Swedish partner Tobi Andersson, who saw the need to have a platform for survey data delivery. Prior to Dapresy, online delivery systems were custom and expensive, or reliant on manual, tedious PowerPoint decks. To this day, Dapresy is unique in the marketplace, according to what Forrester Research has said. We allow companies to have a visualization layer of complex information, presented in a user friendly manner – custom tailored for each internal user group.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Managing sales and marketing. I keep our pipeline and P&L open on one of my three monitors (yes, I am a geek) to constantly remind me that revenue is our lifeblood. I make the day productive by focusing on things I can control, delegating things my staff can handle, and stepping in when clients bog down our teams. Supporting the teams is paramount, and they know I have their back. As we have grown, I spend much more time on contracts and helping the sales team.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m always thinking about better ways and pushing the envelope. At times it really annoys people, but if you don’t always question what you do, and how you can do better, who will? To get the ideas come alive is teamwork. You can’t dictate, rather you have to form consensus, which is tough when fast decisions are required. If you don’t have “buy in” things just never get going. I am lucky my partner and I can be nimble and move fast. That is our key to success.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Doing what I am doing with Dapresy to get clients on interactive, visually engaging data delivery platforms. Marketing research is stuck in old ways for reporting. Finding clients who “get it” and want to platform on us is truly exciting. More and more, we are finding the enterprises – instead of their agencies – are the change agents here. Agencies are often stuck in old ways.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It’s more than one: Being brutally focused on sales, acting quickly, turning “on a dime” when new information is presented and following my instincts.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was a consultant between some CEO gigs and had to deal with difficult people. I was never comfortable in that role.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Understand early on that investors are not your friend. I would have protected myself better.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be a One Minute Manager and always let people know where they stand. People should go to bed at night and not worry. It makes for a great company culture, happy employees and productive workplace.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Again, being brutally focused on revenue and going for bigger deals. Also, having the sheer “force of will” to make them happen. You can’t take “No” for an answer. I believe that selling $15,000 takes just as much effort as $75,000.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I relied on a CFO at one of my earlier companies too much. He was brought in by the investors, and I naively trusted him. His business model ate through too much cash, and I was blamed as CEO — rightfully so because I trusted him. I now know better and make my own models.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a strong background in marketing and have found that public relations is my secret weapon. It is a longer term play than some other marketing elements, but when done right, pays high dividends.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently took my wife and sister to a Graham Nash concert. He is a legend and puts on an incredible show.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Besides MS Office and Outlook which I live on, one of my favorites is Evernote. My son (who is our operations manager) turned me on to it years ago. Also, Expensify for expense reporting. These are my two best “killer apps”.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One Minute Manager. It’s the best management book ever.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Gian Fulgoni is a friend and business hero. He founded Information Resources, then founded comScore. He is the best CEO I ever worked for, and a really nice guy, too. I have always looked up him.