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Your Badass Journey Guest, Leslie Na

podcast Apr 17, 2019

Leslie Na has been an incorrigibly curious customer researcher for the past 12 years, but now she is launching Truth Bomb, the only customer insights, research, and strategy agency that exclusively serves startups to mid-sized businesses.

She found that there was an inequality gap in the industry: The #1 factor that divides the successful few from everyone else is customer understanding and the ability to apply that insight throughout a business, and billion-dollar companies do this every day – but small- to mid-sized businesses don’t always have access to that data, the knowledge necessary to get the insights, or the infrastructure necessary to apply those insights. And that’s where Truth Bomb comes in.

An Unlikely Entrepreneur

Leslie describes herself as “a very unlikely entrepreneur.” She is a first-generation daughter of conservative Chinese immigrants. “So, growing up, I basically had four choices of what I could be. I could be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, or a world-class pianist.”

She didn't grow up thinking outside of the box; she was conditioned to “follow the hell out of whatever convention says.” So, she wasn’t even fully aware of entrepreneurship as an option until just a few years ago. She was ready to conform on on the right path, although it enver felt like a good fit, until she had an ah-ha moment.

Heeding the Call to Entrepreneurship

Leslie has always been an extremely mission- and purpose-driven person. So, when she sees inequity, she is compelled to fight it with justice and equality.

And while she was working in market research in the corporate sector, she stumbled onto a huge inequity. It started when she found some research that showed the the success rates for startups and small businesses are super low. Most people know that, but success rates that barely crack two digits are still frighteningly low.

But what really shocked Leslie was when she discovered a study reporting that the number one factor dividing the successful startups from everybody else is the ability to understand your customer, and then apply that throughout the rest of your business.

She was shocked. She knew from experience that research is a $45B industry, and it has been around for a hundred years. So how could that be the number one reason for business failure?

So she called colleagues all over the world and asked them about what’s going on. There are really only have a few billion-dollar businesses in the entire world, so how can they be the only ones with this resource? The vast majority of businesses are small businesses, and they're the ones who are curing the cancers of the world and pushing innovation. So who's helping these businesses? “And the unanimous answer that I got was, ‘Well, no one, and we're actually quite happy serving and siphoning off of the billion-dollar guys because we make a ton of money.’"

Some people even said that there was no money to be made in helping small businesses understand customer insights, but Leslie calls BS on that – they were just making so much money off the billion-dollar guys that no one bothered to figure out or create a business model that works for smaller businesses. “It's not that there's no money. It's that no one has bothered to do the work because they're very cushy in the status quo.”

And that truth bomb was the genesis of Leslie creating Truth Bomb, which is now the first and only customer insights and research resource that's exclusively built for startups to mid-sized businesses – but I’m confident that, soon, other companies will spring up trying to capture some of Leslie’s success!

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