“We walked into the offices of SurveyMonkey without permission and now we are partners”

It is almost 5 in the morning in San Francisco, but Paolo Privitera is still not sleeping. “Call me quickly before I go to bed. Otherwise we can talk in 5 hours”. There’s not much time to sleep in Silicon Valley, especially if you’ve just signed a partnership agreement with a giant like SurveyMonkey. Paolo is the 36-year-old… Read more »

It is almost 5 in the morning in San Francisco, but Paolo Privitera is still not sleeping. “Call me quickly before I go to bed. Otherwise we can talk in 5 hours”. There’s not much time to sleep in Silicon Valley, especially if you’ve just signed a partnership agreement with a giant like SurveyMonkey. Paolo is the 36-year-old CEO of Pick1, a startup founded officially in 2010 together with Armando Biondi. They started out in two and are now twelve, eight of which work full time. They have three offices in San Francisco , Rome, and Santiago and plan to open another one soon in New York.
 
«Your audience is out there. And you don’t know who they are, what they think or what they like. Know your audience». This is the opening phrase on their website and a convincing invitation to try them. Pick1 offers a tool that helps online surveys connect their market analyses for re-targeting. Put simply, “Usually companies know nothing about the users who respond to questionnaires, but we allow them to know the age, gender, city of residence…”. Even first and last name? “Of course, sometimes even an address. We have over 200 data points. The users themselves give them to us and authorize use”. One of the advantages for companies is that they can create personalized marketing campaigns, closer to their clients, which respond to their real needs. They do social analysis and no one else is doing this besides Pick1. This is why SurveyMonkey became interested in their product.
Actually, they didn’t know about it but Paolo changed that. “We got into contact with SurveyMonkey in a very particular way. It was one year ago, a period in which we were looking for partners. We literally entered into their offices without any invitation or permission. We entered and asked to talk with someone”. This propensity towards trying whatever it takes, risking and being curious to see what consequences might be is the leitmotiv of stories from Silicon Valley. And, in fact…
“We were able to talk to Damon Cronkeythe VP of Global Business and Corporate Development at SurveyMonkey, number two in the company”. The partnership was not immediate. SurveyMonkey is the largest company in the world for online surveys (the likes of 15 million clients1 billion users per month and 2 million return clients per month), but at the time it still had a structure that was a bit out of date and they were busy trying new API’s. So they proposed a partnership that aimed at the exclusivity of the use of the product, but without guaranteeing almost anything in exchange. Paolo and his team at Pick1 decided to take time and think things over.
In December, Dave Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey called an urgent meeting. Pick1’s functionality was useful, they didn’t possess it and it would have cost too much to create it from scratch. “The client who does a survey on SurveyMonkey knows nothing about the users who respond. Now we are in an initial partnership and the tangible benefit is ours alone. They are in the particular situation of inviting clients who want to use our functions to try it out, in order to not lose them definitively. They have 15 million clients, if we manage to reach just 0.1% of them we have already won”.
But this is not the only championship that they are playing. In New York they will open in order to penetrate another market, which cannot be revealed at the moment, but will surely be another hit. “San Francisco is vital for surviving in the tech world, but if one wants to open new markets, other places must be looked at”. As if this were not enough, they are about to finalize three partnerships with other large re-targeting companies. The names are still a secret, but there is reason to believe they may have forced their way into these headquarters as well and were again successful in offering their case. As they say, know your audience.