How one Venezuelan refugee is shaking up the Customer Experience market

EnjoyHQ has an interesting approach to a thorny problem, but the background of its founder Sofia Quintero may be the most interesting thing of all.

Customer Service Experience and Business Satisfaction Survey. Woman choose face smile on smart phone

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If anyone needed proof of the power immigrants can offer tech, look no farther than Sofia Quintero. She is the founder and CEO of EnjoyHQ, a web-based platform that captures market and data science insights, serving as a cross disciplinary database to help product research and UX teams build better products, faster.

Roughly 10 years ago, Quintero was a dirt-poor political refugee scrubbing toilets to make a living in London. Her story is interesting both because of how far she's come, and because of how cool the company she's now running is.

Data-driven transparency

EnjoyHQ aims to democratize how companies arrive at new insights by offering access to researchers' knowledge and data from different silos across the whole company and from disparate customer feedback inputs like Twitter, Salesforce, Zendesk, and more. The company recently announced a $2 million seed funding round to accelerate the company's launch into the $32 billion (by 2025) Customer Experience market. 

EnjoyHQ functions like a collective brain. Companies from Adobe (my former employer) to unicorn startups like Grubhub rely on EnjoyHQ. It centralizes and organizes research in a smart repository that helps product and UX teams learn more about users, faster. By sharing findings throughout the organization, EnjoyHQ makes it possible to scale learning.

That's where the company and Quintero are today, but what about 10 years ago? 

SEE: 10 ways to communicate more effectively with customers and co-workers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Refugee-driven ambition

A decade ago Quintero was a penniless political refugee from Venezuela, living in London and trying to earn a living cleaning toilets while taking English lessons. She and her family had fled the new Hugo Chavez regime, leaving behind a comfortable middle-class Caracas lifestyle. Quintero was a recent university grad, and then she had to start life all over.

She enrolled again in college in London and soon immersed herself in the local startup scene, mastering English, tech speak, and hustling her way into a new tech career. As she advanced, she kept seeing the same problems repeated in product development teams. Like most great company ideas, the seed of what became EnjoyHQ was germinated in her frustrations at helping companies she worked for to scale:

I've worked in many roles and industries all the way from Customer Experience consultancies, digital agencies, and growth roles in technology companies. Regardless of the size or sector of the company, I found the same pattern over and over again. Most employees didn't know where to find information about customers, each department uses a different tool to talk to customers, every department is producing some sort of customer or user research report, and all that data lives in different places. In every case, I found that answering the most basic questions like: 'Does anybody know if we have done research on a particular topic?' can trigger a huge amount of digging for documents and messaging colleagues across the board. This was painful enough for me to start looking for a better way to connect the dots when it comes to customer research.

As she looked around for tools to help her do her job better, Quintero noticed the rise of a sub category within Customer Experience called ResearchOps. It focused on better infrastructure around customer research, and operationalizing the user research process so that the analysis of customer feedback can be done faster and have a bigger impact.

Seeing a major market opportunity, Quintero raised the seed round from investors from previous companies where she had worked who liked her hustle, hard work, and results. To be closer to the world's largest market, North America, she moved her small startup team from London to Santa Monica, CA.

SEE: Hiring kit: User experience specialist (TechRepublic Premium)

A platform for ResearchOps

Quintero said she saw the rise of ResearchOps but recognized it needed a platform. Product teams have many tools for managing code repos, product roadmaps, and engineering tickets, but user feedback and research tends to be ad hoc and lacks discipline and workflows on the tools side. For example, after five years of work Microsoft Microsoft recently revealed an internal effort to build a similar platform that it calls HITS, so Quintero thinks she is on to something.

"Like Microsoft, we saw that the average product team was struggling to interpret all the user feedback data being generated by popular SaaS tools like Intercom, NPM tools like Delighted, ZenDesk, and the many popular customer-facing tools in the typical stack," said Quintero. EnjoyHQ, in turn, helps customers not only to aggregate all their customer feedback and user research in one place, but also to leverage a workflow the company calls Stories that allows them to communicate their insights more easily. 
 
Perhaps buried in that need to learn a new language and put it to work in a new industry, Quintero also grasped just how critical that last point is. You can gather all the insights in the world, but if the people that can act on them do not have access to the research insights you have lost the battle. You need both, an engine to capture the data and a good process to share the outcome of the analysis—the insights—and EnjoyHQ hopes to deliver both.

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By Matt Asay

Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.