Survata’s first president of research, Dyna Boen, finds “onlyness” one of the strongest links to success. The word, which comes from the title of a book she is reading called The Power of Onlyness by Nilofer Merchant, refers to a person's unique qualities. This entrepreneur and strategist says businesses and individuals have these unique qualities. You just need to bring them out.
Those unique qualities she found in Survata, a market research company, and convinced the co-founder of UBMobile to take the role of the company's first president of research.
Boen co-founded UBMobile, where in less than two years she assembled a client list that includes Verizon, NBCUniversal, Sephora, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. In 2017, she was listed as one of the top influencers in mobile market research.
Survata’s massive publisher network and its access to people who are not tied to other panels makes the research unique, Boen says.
Survata’s publisher network is about accessing people on any device throughout the internet and apps by allowing them to unlock premium content by answering questions. They answer questions to read a restricted article, unlock free Wi-Fi, or access another level in a mobile game.
Boen’s appointment follows the closure of Survata’s $14 million Series B funding round. Data & Programmatic Insider caught up with Boen six weeks into her new position to talk about her plans with the company. The following are excerpts from the interview.
Data & Programmatic Insider: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received and who did you receive it from?
Dyna Boen: Become more self-aware. When I was a consultant, two or three years out of college, my annual review came up. The only negative advice I got from my boss was not to use the word "like." Of course, I became obsessed with correcting that for the three weeks that followed. I also got a promotion and a tittle increase, but it was a lesson in growing up and becoming a business person. It was a combination of my voice being too high and saying "like" too much. I felt, well, that's who I am, but it was the best advice at that point in my career. I didn’t realize that I was about to move to General Mills, which is a very corporate environment, at a very young age to handle a $13 million business.
D&PI: What is your best piece of advice for newcomers into market research?
Boen: Raise your hand and be willing to take on new things and learn. If you can find a great mentor, that’s even better. Never say that’s not my job description. I’ve had people report to me that say, well that’s not in my job description. I think back in my own career and say moving to Minneapolis wasn’t in my job description, or taking over client services and sales wasn’t in my job description. Don’t get hung up on the job description. Raise your hand and go for it.
D&PI: What is the name of the book sitting on your nightstand next to your bed at home?
Boen: The book sitting on my nightstand is titled The Power of Onlyness by Nilofer Merchant. It’s a good read. Sometimes I think of myself as an underdog. The underdogs represent the majority of people these days, especially those who are now really strong. My mom’s from Hawaii. My dad's a car dealer. He didn’t go to college, but became very successful. Finding your way with all of those things that make you unique are part of your onlyness. At Survata I encounter a lot of very talented people and encourage them to use the things that make them unique. Step into it. It gives you a perspective that no one else can see.
D&PI: If you could go back and change one thing in your professional life, what would that be?
Boen: I would have raised more capital for UBMobile from the very beginning. We thought we could get the business to profitability in less time with less money. We did a lot with very little in a short time. We were fortunate to have a successful outcome and sell the company, but if I would have raised more capital it probably would have been a longer ride and a different outcome.
D&PI: What are your plans at Survata?
Boen: To address the low-hanging fruit, meaning developing a sales team for research. There was a lot of inbound sales and lead generation, but the company is at the stage to do more outbound, more relationship building, and relationship building with bigger accounts. Survata is a young and fast-growing company. There are assets that can be optimized and strengthened. As we get into the fourth quarter, I will focus on product optimization and creating additional services for clients. And then I’m thinking about new products around the beginning of next year.