Data Gurus


SampleCon Happy Hour (Part 1) with Sima Vasa , Ryan Barry, Steve Schlesinger, Katie Gross, Armen Adjemian| Ep. 180

Welcome to another interesting and informative episode of Data Gurus!

Sima is excited to bring you part of a live discussion between herself and four other industry leaders that took place earlier this year, at SampleCon.

For those who did not get to SampleCon this year, this episode will give you an idea of what it was like. You will hear Sima lead an informal and unscripted discussion with Ryan Barry, Steve Schlesinger, Katie Gross, and Armen Adjemian. They share their strong opinions on various topics, including leadership, talent management, company culture, respondent experience, and more.

Ryan Barry is the President at Zappi. He oversees their commercial operations, operations, and product and engineering groups.

Steve Schlesinger is the CEO of Schlesinger Group. He focuses on strategy, acquisitions, and developing the business for the future.

Armen Adjemian is a co-founder and CEO of DISQO. He is involved with strategy and marketing

Katie Gross is Chief Customer Officer at Suzy. She oversees sales, customer success, and their Full Service Center of Excellence team.

Sima Vasa is a co-founder of Paradigm Sample and CEO of Infinity Squared Ventures. She also does investment banking for Oberon Securities.


Everyone is trying to figure out how to acquire, hire, and retain talent.

Even though there are currently many conversations about technology and automation, Steve feels that it is the talent that generates the value of the business. So people have to be more creative than ever to attract people into their businesses. His company regularly looks at acquisitions as a way to get talent.

Katie joined Suzy almost two years ago. Hiring has been nearly a full-time job for her because Suzy needs people with experience and people with different points of view.

Working from home

It is difficult for parents to raise their children and work. Working from home has been helpful for females in the workplace and brought more balance to many families with working parents.

The best team

DISQO has been very people-centric across time because Armen believes that whoever has the best team in the long term will win. Remote hiring has allowed them to hire faster.

Doubling their staff

DISQO doubled its staff by bringing in more than 200 people last year. It was extremely challenging to do in the current environment.


Last year, Sima saw a lot of activity in what was said to be a frothy market. Now, there appears to be more scrutiny and caution around investments. Expectations also seem to be more realistic.

Debt financing

Zappi has gained much traction from debt financing over the last several years. Ryan believes that debt financing is a useful vehicle for growing companies.

High salaries

Salaries are costing a lot more. That could become a problem if the numbers do not get met.


At the end of the day, investment is about performance.


It can be difficult for a company to retain its culture in tough times. It helps to have a good environment, hire great people, and treat them like adults. Having open conversations about what the company is going through is also vital.

Adapting and changing

The culture has to adapt and change as a company grows.

Complex culture

Steve has a culture of 20 companies amalgamated together. Each company came in with its culture, so the current culture is a complex combination of those.

Culture and people

Culture and people are the most important criteria for a company.

Shared values

Shared values are vital for a cultural fit within a company.

Respondent experience

Market researchers should not support 45-minute conjoint surveys any longer because most people only have a seven-minute attention span.

Representative sample

The industry has defined representative sample as age, gender, and income. That, and some other industry basics, need to change.

A challenge

The industry is facing a challenge in that it is constrained by the audience.

Data transfer

Katie believes that the issue of audience constraint could have been solved some time ago if data could be transferred via the API.

Brand interaction

Armen feels that the macro issue is that most companies that create solutions for people do not interact directly with the brands. That is an ecosystem issue.

Controlling the respondent’s experience

Companies integrated with brands get to control the respondent experience in the ecosystem. However, there is also another population that cannot necessarily control the survey experience with respondents.



Email me your thoughts!




Ryan Barry on Twitter

Ryan Barry on LinkedIn

Steve Schlesinger on LinkedIn

Katie Gross on LinkedIn

Armen Adjemian on LinkedIn