154 episodes

Welcome to the the Data Gurus Podcast!

The world around us is changing faster than ever before. From automation, artificial intelligence, big data, geo-location to every aspect of how we work and live. This includes DATA. Welcome to Data Gurus Podcast… our mission is to bring you a real life perspective on what’s happening in the data industry and how successful companies and individuals in this niche navigate through the sea of change. Encouraging you to Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless – Let’s navigate the Data Ecosystem together.

Data Gurus Sima Vasa

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Welcome to the the Data Gurus Podcast!

The world around us is changing faster than ever before. From automation, artificial intelligence, big data, geo-location to every aspect of how we work and live. This includes DATA. Welcome to Data Gurus Podcast… our mission is to bring you a real life perspective on what’s happening in the data industry and how successful companies and individuals in this niche navigate through the sea of change. Encouraging you to Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless – Let’s navigate the Data Ecosystem together.

    James Norman – Founder of Piloty | Ep. 154

    James Norman – Founder of Piloty | Ep. 154

    Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

    Sima is happy to have James Norman, the CEO and Founder of Pilotly, joining her today.

    In this episode, James talks about his varied career and highlights the difficulties he experienced as a person of color, raising investment capital. He also discusses his initiatives to help black founders raise money for their businesses and explains how Pilotly came about and why Pilotly is such an important company for the United States.

    James’s career trajectory

    James started his career selling video games. After that, he spent some time selling car audio and then started his first “real” company, MJH Sound.com, in 1995 and sold car audio online. After running that business for about four years, James went to the University of Michigan and got a degree in electrical engineering.


    James’s audio business pivoted during that time, and they started creating custom parts and building unique cars for vehicle manufacturers.

    Custom cars for movies

    Then, in 2005, James moved to LA and started building custom cars for movies like The Fast and the Furious.

    Video streaming

    In 2008, when the recession hit, James got into streaming video. After encountering several challenges, he realized that most people could not do what he was doing. So he shifted away from the failing auto industry and seized the opportunity to create a streamlined video streaming product.

    A product planner

    James also spent some time working as a product planner for Mitsubishi and then went back to doing his own thing.

    New ways of raising money

    When his friend started Dropbox, it opened James’s eyes to new ways of raising money for companies. Before that, he had no idea of what it would take to get enough capital together to scale a team and build an organization.


    James built Ubi, the first online electronic programming guide, and spent his time between 2008 and 2013 doing his best to convince people that nobody would have cable by 2020. Getting feedback from some high-level executives who shared his point of view encouraged James to keep on with what he was doing. He spent the next five or six years running Ubi and ran into many different problems during that time.

    Becoming a shining star

    In 2011, James applied for the NewMe program, designed to help people of color break into Silicon Valley. He got into the program, and that was his introduction to the San Francisco Bay Area. He was blown away by all the opportunities there, so he decided to stay on and become a shining star!

    Software development

    James spent a year working as a software developer for a publishing company and learned a lot about software structure. He also learned how toxic the development environment was because of people’s unconscious bias towards black people.


    James learned that as a CEO, you need to communicate effectively.

    No investment capital

    After putting a rock star team together, James started pitching his ideas to potential investors. Some investors told him that if he could get the content contracts they would give him the money he needed. Even though he managed to get several content contracts for an electronic sell-through model he developed for a subscription TV service, including one from Warner Brothers, nobody ever showed up with any investment capital.

    Testing content and starting Pilotly

    James learned the necessary processes from experienced experts and started Pilotly because he needed to test pilot his content effectively with the right audience.

    • 31 min
    A Scientist’s Approach to Market Research | Ep.153

    A Scientist’s Approach to Market Research | Ep.153

    Welcome to another fascinating and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

    Sima is happy to have Jeremy King, the CEO and Founder of Attest, joining her on the show today!

    In this episode, Jeremy talks about his unique career journey, discusses the genesis of Attest, and explains how Attest helps organizations use their existing data in better ways to make smarter decisions.

    Jeremy’s journey

    Jeremy started his career as a scientist. He worked in ecology, genetics, and what is now known as synthetic biology, focusing on mathematical models of reef fish behavior and proving how the entire underwater ecology is driven by sound. That was where his love for data, empiricism, following hypotheses, testing, and learning originated.

    After that, Jeremy joined McKinsey and spent nine years traveling around the world helping big companies sort out problems that they could not solve for themselves.


    Traveling to different countries and showing up at new businesses, sectors, and teams every one to three months helped Jeremy learn about businesses countries and cultures very quickly.

    A trend

    Jeremy became interested in the world of Attest because all the businesses he worked with spoke about being more data-driven and using their existing data in better ways to make smarter decisions. Using their internal data and existing customer data much more was a big trend.

    Data about future customers

    What was missing in almost all those businesses was data about the customers that they did not have yet. To overcome that gap businesses need to commission a market research project, look into social data, use existing customers as a proxy for future customers, or extrapolate the gut feel of experts to try new product launches.

    Gut feelings

    Unfortunately, 95% of all product launches fail, and most gut feelings are wrong.

    Knowing more about the target customer 

    Knowing more about the target customer is vital. But that was missing in every business and sector that Jeremy visited.

    Getting the data

    Where data is missing, businesses need to go out and get it, produce it, or find it because that is how they will ultimately win or lose.

    The genesis of Attest

    Jeremy thought there had to be a better way to do more market research for more people in more places more often. So he started thinking of ways to automate to make that market bigger, better, and easier for more people. That was how Attest was born.

    Assessing target customers

    Data and customers are at the heart of a business. So a lot more needs to be spent on assessing target customers and finding opportunities in unknown areas.

    Making market research easier

    When market research is easier to do, it creates opportunities for more to happen in more places for more people more often.

    Different markets

    Attest serves many different markets, so their challenge is to build one product and software suite for all the services, needs, buyer personas, and sectors.


    The simplicity, power, and quality of Attest set it apart from all other platforms in the industry.

    A tailor-made experience

    Attest aims to deliver an experience that does everything exactly how organizations want to do it. They will do that in a way that is neither overbearing nor scary.


    Attest strives to show the obvious results and make it easy for organizations to see things they would not otherwise have seen. They enable organizations to communicate those insights internally, which helps them to work in new and more intuitive ways.

    • 26 min
    Digital Citizenship | Ep. 152

    Digital Citizenship | Ep. 152

    Welcome to another informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

    Today, Sima is happy to have Singe Deakins joining her on the show. Singe is the London-based CEO and Founder of CitizenMe.

    In this episode, Singe shares his background and talks about how the ecosystem is changing and shifting data processing out to the edge. He also discusses how Citizen Me is combining economic impact with social value, bringing more civility to the internet, and helping people to manage their data and choose what they want to do with it.

    Singe’s background

    Singe has a background in digital innovation that goes back about two decades. He spent the early days of his career putting newspapers online and helping British Airways get their booking systems online. In about 2000, he started using multi-digital channels and using mobile at the center of everything.


    He spent the next twelve years in Asia, based in Singapore, doing open internet work. He helped several hundred million individuals get on the internet with the platforms he was building up in the emerging market of telco systems.

    The next problem to solve

    After selling his last business to an American private equity company, Singe started looking for the next big problem he could solve. Looking at how the internet and the digital world were evolving, he realized that it should be about people, and the core transactional value would be about the data about the people.

    An internet that works for everybody

    It became clear to Singe that we need an internet that works for everybody. That is easy to imagine, but the actual mechanics could be disruptive and require an evolution from where the internet currently is.

    An issue

    One of Singe’s biggest issues has been working out how to govern across the internet in terms of data. He would like to find a way to get to where we all have rights regarding our data and how it gets used.


    Singe has been on a long journey of getting to understand how people interact with their data. Consumers understand much more now than they did before about what they are giving away with their data. We are moving into a different space around what people want and do not want with their data.

    Ephemeral data

    Ephemeral data digital tools give people a choice and help them manage how their data gets shared.

    Sharing data

    There is a big marketplace worth trillions of dollars exchanging everyone’s data all the time, but none of us can participate in it. By using their smartphones, people are constantly sharing huge amounts of their data without even realizing it.

    Solving the issue

    At CitizenMe, they are looking for the best ways to solve that issue. Their job is to represent citizens, help them manage their data, and find ways to do what they want with their data.

    The CitizenMe app

    The CitizenMe app allows people to access the insights that already exist about them. It lets them generate their own insights, have a real-time opportunity to transact with those insights, and get paid for it.

    Combining economic impact with social value

    At CitizenMe, they currently have about 350,000 people on the app. People can either transact their data for cash or share it as a donation towards medical research.


    CitizenMe is fresh, participatory, and open in the way it works. It allows businesses to have real-time interactions and real-time digital conversations with their customers.

    End game

    CitizenMe.com is a working example of edge data (zero data and zero data tech). Their end game is to change how data gets handled on the internet,

    • 28 min
    Thanks Mom, Education, Education, Education! | Ep. 151

    Thanks Mom, Education, Education, Education! | Ep. 151

    Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Dara Gurus podcast!

    Sima is excited to have Katie Gross as her guest for today’s podcast! Katie is the Chief Customer Officer at Suzy.

    In this episode, Katie discusses her background. She also shares her secret to being a successful woman and talks about what Suzy is doing to help and empower companies.

    Humble beginnings

    Katie grew up in Plymouth, England. Her mother wanted Katie and her siblings to have everything she did not have, so she insisted that all her children had the best education possible.

    Meeting different people

    Katie met people from different places and different walks of life when she was at university. Being surrounded by smart and ambitious people opened her eyes to exciting new possibilities for the future.

    Entering the market research space

    Katie got into the market research space partly by choice and partly accidentally. She studied psychology and criminal justice at university and came out of that with an SPSS skill set. She joined a food and beverage company in the UK that dealt primarily with Italian private label products in UK grocery stores. Then she moved to London and worked for Mintel on their consultancy team.

    Moving to sales

    Katie started working for Mintel as a researcher and later moved into a sales position, which she loved. Having come from a similar role in market research, she was genuinely curious about what her clients were using and how they were doing things. That made it easy for her to come up with solutions to help her clients operate better, faster, and in a more educated way.

    Staying in sales

    Initially, Katie thought she would only stay in sales long enough to pay off her student debt. However, she remained there when she finally realized how much she loved being in a sales role.

    A natural fit

    At the time, sales was mostly a hybrid of selling to new companies and renewing current clients. Since then, sales in most companies have been separated into sales and customer success. So it felt like a natural fit for Katie to have managed a combination of sales and customer success teams throughout her journey.


    Katie enjoys helping to shape and mold the people she manages. She also loves to see them succeed.

    Moving to the USA

    Ten years ago, Mintel opened a new division in the USA. So they asked Katie to move there.

    A successful woman

    Katie wants to be a strong leader for both men and women. Her secret to being a successful woman is not allowing herself to dwell on the negative and sexist comments and helping those around her to do the same.

    At Suzy, there is a “Women at Suzy” group. The women also support each other.


    Suzy is different in that it owns a panel of its own. They are solving to eradicate the need for overlapping technologies in a fragmented market by moving everything into one place.

    A platform

    Suzy has created a platform where qualitative and quantitative can be integrated and run quickly and seamlessly with the same respondents.

    Two kinds of teams

    Some company’s teams are getting empowered on their new journey of agile research by having a playbook and being educated around their new kind of responsibility. The more cumbersome bits are getting automated, giving them more time to be creative. Other companies, however, tend to buy a tool like Suzy’s but do not know how to utilize it because they have never worked in an agile way before.


    Suzy is helping companies understand that they are there to help them automate and do things faster,

    • 23 min
    Life After CINT | Ep. 150

    Life After CINT | Ep. 150

    Welcome to another interesting and informative episode of the Data Gurus Podcast!

    Today, Sima is happy to have Richard Thornton joining her. Richard used to work at CINT, and he recently founded an advisory services business.

    In this episode, Richard shares his career journey. He also talks about taking risks, his mindset, and his core beliefs. Stay tuned to hear more!

    Richard’s journey

    Richard studied Business and Marketing at university. After that, he joined a business that served hardware and software players in the imaging space, like Hewlett Packard, Xerox, and Canon. He worked as a research analyst, supporting a team delivering content and insights around subscription syndicated services. That exposed him to working with data. He saw the value that data-driven insights could bring to organizations and gained a toolkit that he utilized extensively later in his career.

    After spending four years there, he moved on and became a consultant.

    Entering the market research industry

    In 2003, Richard fell into the market research industry by chance after being offered a position with Channel Surveys. He was fortunate to enter the industry just in time to ride the new wave of online data collection and digital insights. He was eventually put into the position of European Co-Managing Director, managing more than 300 employees in Europe. He left in 2008 when the business got sold to Microsoft.

    Joining CINT

    In 2009, Richard joined CINT, a Swedish-based technology company that was way ahead of its time. That was the start of a journey that took him out of his comfort zone and lasted for the next twelve years.

    Going public

    Richard was fortunate to be part of the leadership team at CINT that eventually took the business public in February 2021.


    Richard left CINT in 2021 after the business had gone public.


    Richard has always been people-driven in his decision-making. He felt driven to meet his mentors in the process of evaluating opportunities that came his way.

    Taking a risk

    Richard has a good appetite for risk with his work and making investments. After making sure that the business model was sound, he always followed his gut feelings when new opportunities came his way.

    What leaving CINT felt like

    It was tough for Richard to leave CINT, but it felt a little easier because it was a planned move. He gave up a lot when he left, and that required a massive mental adjustment. Although he is still grappling with those adjustments to some extent, he has no regrets about his decision to leave.


    Now, Richard feels as if he has gone from a teacher to a student again because he has to re-learn a new craft. It is humbling but healthy because it keeps him grounded. It has also given him a fresh perspective.


    You get to feel needed, wanted, and valuable when you’re part of a growing organization. Richard misses feeling that way, so he had to adjust his mindset after leaving CINT.


    Richard is grateful to be in a financial position that gives him a choice. Right now, he is considering what the best choice should be.

    A portfolio approach

    Richard always wanted to build a portfolio approach to work. That means that he has had to move into advisory roles. He intends to get onto the boards of some tech-led or enabled businesses and combine that with some angel investing.

    How Richard is spending his time

    Richard has been networking and looking for opportunities. He has built up a portfolio of businesses that he is advising. They are mostly founder-led and tech-enabled or SaaS busin...

    The Journey to CEO | Ep. 149

    The Journey to CEO | Ep. 149

    Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus Podcast!

    Sima is delighted to have Lisa Wilding Brown, the CEO of Innovate MR, joining her today as her guest for the podcast. In this episode, Lisa talks about her journey to becoming a CEO, building confidence, the importance of role models and culture, and what the future holds for market research.

    Lisa’s journey

    Like many others, Lisa had no intention of getting into market research. After accidentally falling into the industry almost twenty years ago, she quickly got hooked! She started as a project manager of an online research team and then moved over to the panel team, where she worked closely with the survey methodology team researching research. She got to know a lot about methodological implications and learned how to do things the right way.

    In 2009, she moved to uSamp. Moving from a large global traditional research firm to a tech startup with only a few employees was an uncomfortable change.

    In 2014, Lisa joined Innovate MR when the company was still in the startup phase. Now, the company has more than 150 employees in multiple offices worldwide.

    Inspired by her colleagues

    Looking back at her journey to becoming CEO, Lisa gives credit to the network of friends and colleagues she has met through WIRexec who inspired and invigorated her so many years ago.

    Little things

    Over time, Lisa started doing little things to get everyone to know her brand and who she was and become more involved in the industry. That helped pave the way to her becoming a leader and the CEO of a business.

    Role models

    It is vital to have excellent role models. Unfortunately, women do not have as many role models.

    Building confidence

    While growing up, Lisa never even considered that she might become the CEO of a business. Like many others, she had insecurities and a fear of failure, so she focused on building her confidence.


    Lisa encourages everyone to focus on the present moment, have new experiences, leverage opportunities, build their skill sets, and gain new levels of expertise.

    Being the CEO

    Lisa has a level of empathy that her team appreciates, and she feels that she is accessible to everyone. She feels confident that she will be successful in her role as the CEO because she knows the inner workings of the business and has a great relationship with her team. She hopes to inspire other young women and young professionals in the research space.


    As companies grow, they should not lose sight of the dynamic and culture they enjoyed when they were small companies. Lisa is fiercely protective of her company’s culture.


    There has recently been a lot of disruption in the sample space. That allows for scale, growth, and efficiency in the future.

    Brands are shifting

    Brands are becoming more hands-on, and they are working with different, less traditional providers.

    The future of market research

    Although Lisa does not think that traditional market research will ever go away, she feels that surveys will reduce in the future, and we will see many more short micro-burst surveys.

    Stats and data

    Stats and data are becoming part of the mainstream. The uncertainty of the pandemic reinforced the need for data, so the average person now appreciates data a lot more than they did before the pandemic started.


    Email me your thoughts!





    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
3 Ratings

3 Ratings

Top Podcasts In Business

You Might Also Like