When and how did the business get started?
We launched Field Agent in the pre-selfie era, April of 2010. We came up with the idea the year before as we were using our new iPhone 3s’ to search technology companies that were using mobile devices to capture data and insights in retail locations. To our surprise, no one was using mobile devices to pull data (e.g., use the camera and GPS to obtain and verify data); they were all developing apps just to get users to download the app hoping that the user would in turn click on ads (e.g., the more downloads the more clicks on ads and the more revenue you would earn). The other unique feature of our business model: We were actually the 1st iPhone app to pay cash for using it. Through PayPal, we paid our users to obtain data.
What struggles did the business have in the beginning? How did you overcome those?
The primary struggle for us was explaining the technology to potential clients who were generally all Blackberry users. At that time in the iPhone lifecycle, the business community was slow in adopting new technology. So we had to literally show our client how to use an iPhone, how the camera worked, and how the phone’s GPS confirmed their location.
So, fast-forward seven years to where we are now, and our conversations are no longer about the technology itself (everyone is now using a smart device), but how creative we can be with the technology.
Our secondary struggle was tied to the new industry we launched: “Crowdsourced Data.” We disrupted the current marketplace and its practice of using professionals to capture data in stores. We were crowdsourcing everyday shoppers to capture data and provide insights during their normal shopping trips. It was initially difficult for our clients to understand that their core shopper would be able to provide quality data and insights more quickly and affordably than conventional methods.
Who helped you most in the beginning?
It’s all about being surrounded with great people. I had two co-founders—Henry Ho and Kelly Miller—
and a great team led by Marc Yount, our current president. These leaders assembled a great team and from there we were able to deliver a best-in-class organization.
Why Fayetteville & NWA?
Why did you pick Fayetteville & NWA to start a business in?
I moved to Fayetteville in 2001 from Bangkok, Thailand. I had visited one of my business partners, Henry Ho, who was one of the initial people on the ground when P&G launched its Walmart Customer Team. It was evident to us the eco-system surrounding the Walmart Supplier Team was unlike any place in the world. This fact, along with the growing University, ensured we would be able to establish ourselves in an area of the country that would see growth for years to come.
What makes Fayetteville and NWA business-friendly?
The Fayetteville area allows for an amazing quality of life while at the same time delivering access to Fortune 100 companies, all located within a 30-minute drive. You simply cannot replicate this in other parts of the world.
What makes the business successful? Why does it work?
We are a tech company that created a solution to a problem – we are not a tech company looking for a problem to solve. We took this approach and recruited experienced CPG and tech developers to create a best-in-class product and organization.
What is it about the people who live in Fayetteville & NWA that make this a unique place to do business?
The people believe in the area and want to make it successful. They are also a part of the Midwest eco-system that believes in hard work—both at the office and at home. This dedication is hard to find, and I feel we are a better company because of it.
What would you tell someone who is on the fence about starting a business in Fayetteville & NWA?
Quality of life and business success are not mutually exclusive here in Fayetteville. It can be done…
What does the future of your business look like?
We are in a “controlled” growth stage. By controlled, I mean we are growing in a sustainable way to ensure our business and people are healthy.
How will Fayetteville & NWA help you reach your business goals?
It’s all about the people. As long as the university continues to produce talent and the surrounding cities keep regulations and costs low, we will continue to grow together.
At the end of the day, what keeps you motivated to keep going?
It’s all about being a part of something bigger than yourself.
For me it is my personal faith and knowing God is in the “people business.” I know I am working for something greater than making money, which is impacting people.
For our company it is similar, we are working to create a great product that will change the lives of those we touch. We deem it a successful day if we have impacted our clients, partners, and agents (users of our product) in a positive way.