In 2023, KNow Research celebrates 20 years in business. Since our founding, KNow has remained consistently committed to delivering quality insights and innovative techniques through its work with a diverse range of clients from startups to Fortune 500 companies.
We’ve dedicated time to being actively involved with the wider insights community through our membership with ESOMAR, WIRe, QRCA, EPIC and the Insights Association. We worked hard to push the industry forward through thought leadership presentations, podcasts, webinars, and publications. KNow has also supported a variety of charitable causes through our annual pro bono project which gives us the opportunity to provide nonprofits in a pinch with valuable insights about their target audiences.
When I look back on the past 20 years, I see two guiding lights, two principles that have guided the growth and sustained the health of KNow. As I write them out, they sound almost contradictory, but these priorities have guided us along the way so far and they will be our dual beacons for the years ahead.
#1 Focus on Innovation
From the very beginning, KNow has been a pioneer in using new technologies to advance insights discovery. We were among the first to try webcam groups in 2008 and experiment with bulletin board platforms, even if it meant mailing our participants a webcam and walking them through the set-up process to allow them to fully participate.
Still in 2021, when the lingering pandemic forced us to cancel in-person work, we turned to new technologies like virtual white boards to recreate the backroom experience for clients across the globe.
All along the way KNow has believed in – and invested in – innovation. We have chosen tech tools and resources to help the core of what we do be more effective and efficient. We’re still platform-agnostic so that we can continue to choose the right tool for each project/need.
We created trademarked research processes, built our own research platform, and focused on our core value of exploration to always be looking for tools, resources, and inspiration to grow and innovate.
We’ve seen other forms of qualitative research enter our competitive set, including design research, usability, user experience, social media research, and embraced them as new perspectives and teachers in the art of understanding people.
#2 Commit to Organic Growth
It’s a bit ironic that we’ve been based in San Francisco for 20 years and never experienced “start up” mode. We have never had “hockey stick” growth aspirations or looked for outside investors to help us reach our goals.
Our innovation has instead been funded by high quality, consistent work. We’ve run lean so we can invest in innovation and stay independent. We can be as agile as needed when trying new approaches, and we’ve invested in our team so that they can dream big and bring the whole team along with them.
One of the amazing benefits of our annual pro bono project is the space to try new techniques and tools, allowing our team stretch into new areas and skills sets. Some of our pro bono projects continue to be the most rewarding work to date, giving us an opportunity to see our work make real impacts on people.
Similarly, our Hack Days allow the company to come together and focus on components of our work that might need a bit of a makeover and how to make that happen.
I’ve never seen myself as an “entrepreneur.” Instead, I cherish my role as the Founder and President of a thriving small business. I’m passionate about supporting other local, green, small, and diverse-owned businesses to encourage our network of “Small Giants” whose goal is to be “great, not big.”
Here’s to 20 more years of organic, innovated greatness powered by the amazing team I’m lucky enough to have around me at KNow.