SampleCon Happy Hour (Part 2) with Sima Vasa , Ryan Barry, Steve Schlesinger, Katie Gross, Armen Adjemian | Ep. 181

Welcome to another interesting and informative episode of Data Gurus!

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

This episode might give those who did not make it to SampleCon this year an idea of what the conference was like, and hopefully bring a fresh perspective to those who were there. You will hear Sima lead an informal and unscripted discussion with Ryan Barry, Steve Schlesinger, Katie Gross, and Armen Adjemian. They share their opinions on various topics and discuss their concerns for the industry.

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.

What concerns Steve?

Companies can grow from a startup to great success a lot faster now. So Steve worries about the companies that will grow significantly in a short period and represent large amounts of revenue in three to five years. He is concerned about his blind spots and the things he doesn’t know.

What Katie worries about

Katie worries about Ted Talks, Twitter, and people who take time and attention from respondents.

Creating better value

DISQO’s main growth constraint is the member or user. So they think about how the changes that occur in their users’ lives will affect their attention span. They are always thinking of ways to create better value for their users, and they always gravitate to the member experience because that drives growth.

The data war

Ryan worries about who will win the data war inside big businesses. Because 67% of the media spend of most companies is done programmatically now. Also, most consumer insights departments are still analog and disconnected from a lot of performance optimization.

Connecting what people do with what they say

Ryan feels that if researchers could connect what people do with what they say, they only will need to ask them two questions. However, people in the industry are not thinking about that. So he worries about what insights departments will look like five years from now.

Doing things differently

According to earnings reports, many CEOs are responsible for the idea of doing things differently. Ryan feels that much of the drive toward transformation is happening at the level of the CMO and Chief Growth Officer.

Change within traditional insights organizations

Sima believes the need to transform and move faster has driven much of the change within traditional insights organizations.

From the top down

Katie thinks some companies have done a great job of starting from the top down and enabling everyone.

The hardest thing

Armen feels that selling to insights teams over time is the hardest thing because it is difficult to prove ROI from that spend.


Something interesting about fintech, compared with a more traditional CPG, is that the number of buyers within fintech groups is many times more than the number of buyers within more traditional insights departments.


Ryan believes that creators are underserved in terms of data. They are the future and need data to inspire them and help them make better decisions. He views insights people as creators because they are part of the process.

The digital market

Ryan thinks that the digital market is becoming a lot bigger.

Global shifts

The world is becoming more data-driven. So everyone, regardless of position, is expected to make decisions based on real data. The world is also getting more customer-obsessed.

Opportunity for growth

Armen feels there is a lot of opportunity for growth within enterprise markets.

Enabling creators

Ryan hopes insights departments will enable creators to get the data they require.

Data is everywhere

Steve feels that data is everywhere. Yet we cannot see where it is or where we could be working. He also thinks that data is in different places now than it was a decade or two before. So we need to find ways to access it and make it available for those who need it.

People processing

The insights industry does not have a technology problem. However, there is a big problem with people processing.

The industry will become more tech-enabled

Right now, 53% of the industry is tech-enabled. Sima feels that it will definitely become more tech-enabled by 2025.


Email me your thoughts!



Ryan Barry on Twitter

Ryan Barry on LinkedIn

Steve Schlesinger on LinkedIn

Katie Gross on LinkedIn

Armen Adjemian on LinkedIn