KP Unpacked

KP Reddy Unpacked: Exposing Fake Research

February 20, 2024 KP Reddy
KP Unpacked
KP Reddy Unpacked: Exposing Fake Research
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever found yourself questioning the validity of a so-called 'revolutionary' report influencing the AEC and CRE sectors? We sure have, and it's why we're bringing you a crucial exploration into the tangled underbelly of research bias that's skewing the startup scene in our industries. KP Ready uncovers the unsettling realities of pay-to-play research and its impact on mid-market companies. The discussion doesn't stop at exposing the issue; we're arming you with strategies to combat these deceptive practices. From the role of advisory boards in maintaining research integrity to establishing robust peer networks for authentic insights, this is a conversation that demands your attention.

During this enlightening episode, we also peel back the layers of what it takes for smaller firms to smartly navigate technology adoption, emphasizing the critical balance between a product's fit for purpose versus its hyped perfection. For those striving for trustworthy knowledge that leads to informed decision-making within the architecture, engineering, construction, and real estate landscapes, this episode isn't just a listen—it's a necessary step towards safeguarding your company's future in an industry rife with misinformation.

Want more discussions like this? You can connect with KP Reddy at https://kpreddy.co/ and follow him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kpreddy/!

Speaker 1:

You are listening to the Shadow Network with KP Ready, your gateway to innovation and architecture, engineering, construction and real estate, with a sprinkle of startups that are making a difference. In between, check us out on YouTube at Shadow Partners. Never miss a live stream fireside chat or talk that we got going on with the industry's most interesting innovators and leaders every single week. You can connect with KP Ready and other innovators in the AEC and CRE industry in the Shadow Partners community. Go to bitly slash shadow partners community to learn more. Today. All it takes is a few clicks for you to make a difference. Welcome to the future and welcome to the Shadow Network with KP Ready.

Speaker 2:

All right, welcome back everybody. This is a live recording of KP Ready unpacked. My name is Jeff Eccles, I'm a senior advisor at Shadow Partners and I'm joined as usual by the founder and CEO of Shadow Partners and Shadow Ventures, kp Ready, hi, kp, hey, jeff, you're somewhere different today.

Speaker 3:

I'm not in the office. Sunny, orlando, florida.

Speaker 2:

So for those of us that are in the groups of this winter storm, we appreciate the sunshine that's flowing into your room. The reason that KP and I get together to record these is because, over on LinkedIn, kp posts his thoughts, and many of his, many of the things that he posts end up being very thought provoking. They stirred the pot a little bit sometimes, and I have the opportunity to come here every week and say, hey, kp, what were you thinking when you posted that on LinkedIn? And so, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, if you're not following KP Ready on LinkedIn, which is K Period, p Period, ready R-E-D-D-Y on LinkedIn, you should be.

Speaker 2:

This is where you find out what's going on in the VC world, what's going on specifically in investments, in innovation, around the AEC and CRE world. That's just what KP talks about. Many times, several times a day, he's posting over there. So make sure you're following KP over on LinkedIn, and this is our opportunity to get together and unpack some of those posts. So, kp, if you're ready, I've selected a post for us to talk about.

Speaker 3:

Oh great, rapid fire, blindsided, love it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, hot seat here. Okay, so you posted a few days ago and the post reads like this the amount of fake research about startups in the built environment is astonishing. It's all such pay to play, sample sizes are small, methodologies are not existent and the conclusions are biased. So my question is what is this research that you're seeing? Why do you? I mean, I know you feel that way because it's true, but what's the red flag, or what are the red flags that you see, and what inspired you to go through and post this on LinkedIn?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think you know I have the good fortune meeting with lots of, you know, CIOs and CTOs and people like that and you know, for large firms that have resources for them to research, hey, this product, that product, what's the best? Let me go figure it out, Let me go pilot it, Let me mitigate risk in adopting new technology. That's maybe 5% to 10% of the world. The mid-market really has to depend on third-party resources to make decisions. So in the broad enterprise world you have folks like Gartner that you pay a lot of money to and they analyze and vet and all that, and their model is less pay to play, it's play to promote.

Speaker 3:

They will independently research things. This is my understanding. I've never worked there. They will independently research things. They'll put you on a chart and if you're a market leader and you're the Gartner Magic Quadrant of products, then they publish the report. Now, if you're that software company and you want to tell the world that you were on the Gartner Quadrant and use their logo and branding, they charge you for that. So we're going to pick the winners. And if you want to use our branding to promote your product and its validation, that's cool. You have to pay for that. So that's their business model. But research and advertising, much like the newspaper industry, is separate. You have journalism and all that and you have advertising. They're two separate businesses and these paths shall never cross.

Speaker 3:

Ideally and, by the way, there's the flag of who's providing the research. But when there's not a lot of detail, I'm fortunate that I've spent some time in my career in the academic research world and you'd go to painstaking efforts to communicate in your appendix, like the sample sizes, and sometimes it's even disclosed to the questionnaire. I've done this research work for large corporates too, where part of the report is. Here's what the questionnaire was. Here's the questions we asked.

Speaker 3:

Here are the type of firms we reached out to, and here's who responded, and it's interesting that none of that is disclosed.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm.

Speaker 3:

And it's all about giving a company an award so they'll sponsor your next event, and so there's a lot of bias towards that and so I've caught. I mean, I try not to call people up, but I will call people right.

Speaker 1:

I'm not going to call you out on LinkedIn.

Speaker 3:

I don't think that's fair because maybe I get it wrong, maybe I missed something, but I will call the person and say, hey, I rich a research. I think it's bullshit, like I don't understand. Yeah, and there was one report specifically that we're talking about construction management or project management tools.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 3:

And one of the cited products was Zoho CRM. I was like, how is Zoho CRM? I don't know any construction companies that are using it. That's weird. And so I called the group and I asked them and it's like, oh yeah, we had one person respond with that. I went to how to make the top five list. He's like well, we only had 12 people respond to the survey, or something like that. And then I published it.

Speaker 3:

And then why not disclose that? Like, why don't you tell me more about it? And so I think it's disingenuous. And then a lot of that has shifted to pay to play. Hey, we're doing a survey of top XYZ software products. If you want to be considered, pay us $1,500 to be in it, and so like so a well-funded startup pays to play, and maybe a less, you know, or just based on ethics. They're like no, like we're not going to do that. And the problem is there's not full disclosure to the consumer of the product. That is is that this is a sponsored product. You know, if you, I actually like, if you pull up. You know, I still like getting the ENR magazine to my house, you know. And so I like flipping through it. So I flipped through it and there are sections that at the very top it says sponsored section.

Speaker 3:

And it's three to five pages. It's an advertorial on a product, so it's like it's great exposure. You know they're paying for that exposure, but it's very clear that this is an advertorial. It's not been vetted, it hasn't been fact checked.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. I mean this is, this is where we are right In our culture right now. I mean this doesn't. I guess I'll ask it in the form of a question.

Speaker 1:

Does that?

Speaker 2:

actually qualify as research when it's that way, because I don't think it does.

Speaker 3:

No well, so there's kind of a couple parts of research. Right One what is the research goal? Right, you have to have a thesis around a research right.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 3:

And then you have to build the target criteria. We're gonna target XYZ companies, we're gonna target this persona, Like you have to do some deep work around that and then you have to have a great questionnaire that hopefully extracts that information from that person, and then you push it out to the world. Then you bring all that data back and then it's charts and graphs, charts and graphs. Right, that should all be very pragmatic, of no opinion right Now your findings and conclusions. Then you get to maybe insert a little bit of editorial aspect to it.

Speaker 2:

And that's okay, right.

Speaker 3:

As long as you're presenting the facts, and so we stop. We do some research, but I would say, as we've tried to stop, it's more like here's the landscape of construction tech, and I'm an investor, so I put my companies on there, obviously, and that people know those are my companies. It's clear. I also put their competitors on there. I'm not excluding people because I didn't invest in them. I even put people under that I don't particularly like, but I'm not giving people an opinion of this one's better than that one. I'm just saying this is the landscape. These are all the companies I've been tracking in a particular segment, and here's a bunch of logos and here's some info about them, and so I think it's all about disclosing how you approach it and why you do it like, why you're doing it.

Speaker 3:

And this is an area where I think I've been having a lot of conversations with academics that do this stuff. They do it for a living and they have these methods right. They're academics. This is what they do for a living. And one thing I think is super important is you have to have some oversight.

Speaker 3:

Someone asked, someone commented on the post and they said well, what do you suggest? I'm like you should have. Just like you have an editorial board or anything else, there should maybe be an advisory board of people with deep reputation that aren't going to let something go out without it being you know, without it being right, one without it being correct, two without it being biased. So I think it's you know, I think it's a you. When you have influence right, whether you're an events company right or venture capitalist or an individual like me, and you have some degree of influence in a market, I think there is a responsibility to make sure whatever you say, you know, is taken at face value and has some criteria, and I think that's what I believe, and I think that's what I believe, and I think that's what I believe, right, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, so let's flip it around for a second, because you started out talking about the CIOs, the CTOs, etc. The people that need the information, that need the research. So if, if you're one of those people and you know and you mentioned the different tiers, right If you're in one of those lower tier that doesn't have access to you, know some of the other things, or maybe you're a startup founder, that that needs the research or needs the information, how do you go about getting that in this landscape of fake research? What's the what's the best methodology? If I'm starting something, or if I'm the CTO or CIO at a smaller firm, I'll just say it that way how do I go about getting the information that I need, knowing that that landscape is the way it is?

Speaker 3:

I think a lot of it is trusted networks. I think you have a lot of people that have you know three or four of their peer group and so they come in. The simplest fact is asking around because, also, if you're a large general contractor, right, you're a Hensel Phelps, your size, your needs do not align with a $200 million contractor, right? So you want to. So, I think, having great trusted peer groups that maybe have already looked into it and are sharing it. There's a lot of these informal peer groups that exist. So I think that that's one way that it happens. But, you know, the problem is like I was talking to the Chief Innovation Officer of a big engineering firm this morning and he was like yeah, you know, I get a lot of calls from small, much smaller engineering firms saying, hey, what do you think? And he's like yeah, we've already. We went through that process five years ago, right, we already and so I'm able to offer some support and advice.

Speaker 3:

So I think that's really all you can do is, you know, talk to the people that you trust, talk to the people that you know don't have. You know they don't have anything in it for them, and hopefully they give me some good advice. And generally, I think reference checking, reference calls, is a good process and I think asking questions about the plug. You know, no product is perfect. It's all about is it a good fit? Right, everything is about fit. It's not good or bad, Everything is fit. And I think a lot of what you have to do is ask great questions about hey, here's what we plan on using it for, here's the size of our firm, blah, blah, blah. And then a customer of the product might say you know what, based on what you're doing, I don't think it's a great fit. Man Like, I think you should look at something different. So I think it's super important to really focus on fit and I think you know having these trusted networks is super important.

Speaker 3:

I think, you know, on our platform we try to post stuff. You know people try to post stuff. Some of it's biased. You know, if someone and our platform is to see is the founder of the company and they post something about their product, you know it's all disclosed. It's yeah, it's the founder of the company, so obviously they love their product and it's a perfect fit for everything.

Speaker 2:

Exactly.

Speaker 3:

But I do think the disservice that happens through this fake research that happens. I think it's detrimental because for a lot of mid-sized firms buying a product it's a big risk. You know it's not just money, it's credibility. Oh, you're the guy that deployed that new construction management tool. Oh great, like you know, you become that guy and reputation matters, and you know it's pretty detrimental. And so I think a lot of times if you're highly risk averse, you just don't do anything right. You do something you weren't well-informed, you get smacked around for it, or you don't do something and then you know we continue to be a laggard industry. So I think a little bit of truth in advertising, so to speak, becomes important.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that's a really important perspective in this industry because, you know, if I am one of those mid-sized firms, you know the operations and systems that I have built are at extreme risk with change like that and we're running on small margins and any sort of disruption of that right I invest in this it didn't work out. That can be a huge disruption in my whole process and systems, affects my profitability or lack thereof, like you said, affects my reputation. Client thinks oh, that project didn't run very well. Well, yeah, we tried this new thing. You know we're gonna take some of the blame with that, certainly because we weren't up to snuff with it and the project didn't run well. But it was the risk that we took on that new tool or that new platform or something that's real real in the industry in terms of the risk.

Speaker 3:

No, 100%. Like when I was in the 90s to date myself, when I was building a lot of companies in the 90s and I was a start-up myself and I was pitching to big companies, to massive companies, and they'd say no and I was like, well, why? I was like well, look, nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM we're gonna go with. Ibm and I'm like I've even Like it's there's so far behind, like there's nothing innovative happening there, like yep, well, we'll get fired for it, though we hire.

Speaker 3:

I am and I think you see that same pattern in our industry. You're not gonna get fired for buying stuff from Autodesk or pro core or Bentley. Sure all any of the other incumbents software companies but how often is that product really the right fit for you?

Speaker 2:

Right, right, yeah, that's, that's exactly the point.

Speaker 2:

right, and you know you were talking about the, the, you know your peer networks and, of course, is a great place for me, for me to plug some of the things that we've got going on, but I have for a long time been a huge proponent and believer and participant in mastermind groups for exactly those reasons. You know you can jump in to this group of people that you've gotten to know in a close relationship in the mastermind group say, hey, what do you use for this? Do you have an example of this? You know I have a version of this and in, like you said, you get honest feedback.

Speaker 2:

Right, hey, we use this, but our firm is focused on this or we're this size I'm not sure that's the right fit for this focus or that size Etc. And just yesterday you and I were both with our innovation leaders mastermind group and there's there's plenty of of that type of conversation that's going to be happening inside these mastermind groups, for the innovation leaders are Director of innovation, cto, cio, that that type of title, that type of job description. I guess it's gonna be lots of trading of information like that.

Speaker 3:

You know, jeff, in the venture world there's a term that we like to throw around, right, we talk about asymmetric business models or whatever. And you know they say the difference between investing, reinvesting, in a company that you already an investor in versus investing in a net new company is the benefit of information asymmetry, which just basically just means, like I know something you don't know, right. So if you're already an investor in a company, you know everything about the personality of the founder, the plus, like you know so much about the company. That Versus a net new company, when you're thinking about, okay, I'm gonna write a check for two million bucks, that's 15 this company in that company, well, this company I've already invested in and I know them.

Speaker 3:

There's a lot of information asymmetry. So I think one of the big benefits for these Whether it's us or trusted networks of people build on their own, the goal should be To build information asymmetry to give yourself a market advantage, and I think people like the whole I know something you don't know which is like my elementary playground. Everything you learned on an elementary school playground, I guess, flies in business. But that one you know, that one does right. I know something you don't know seems to be a difference maker.

Speaker 2:

Sure, yeah, yeah it really does and you know when you have those networks and you can, you can gain that information More rapidly. You know more trusted information. That could be a huge difference maker.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and so I think back to the original thinking. You know my suggestion. What I'd like to see more of, which I do is when people post research. I don't think you have to slam them. I think in the comments on LinkedIn hey, I want to understand your sample size. Hey, I want to understand this, like, hey, did these participants have to pay to be? You know, ask better questions and I think, as consumers like anything else right, as consumers of anything, when we start to ask better questions, the product changes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a rule for life right there Ask better questions, Absolutely, If you've somehow joined us in the middle of this. First of all, welcome, Clyde, that you're here, but this is a live recording of KP Ready Unpacked. My name is Jeff Eccles, I'm Senior Advisor at Shadow Partners and, as always, I'm here with KP Ready, its CEO and founder of Shadow Partners and Shadow Ventures. Follow KP K-Period, P-Period, Ready, R-E-D-D-Y on LinkedIn to find these posts that we're talking about Many of them, quite thought-provoking.

Speaker 2:

I don't have all the metrics pulled up on this particular post, but there are, as I'm looking at it, well over 50 people engaged on this one post that you just posted a day or so ago. It reads the amount of fake research about startups in the built environment is astonishing. It's all such pay-to-play Sample, sizes are small, methodologies are non-existent and the conclusions are biased. So what I get to do is come to these sessions with KP and say, hey, what were you thinking, meaning? What inspired you when you wrote that and posted it on LinkedIn? So we spent the last several minutes, KP and I, unpacking that, understanding the inspiration and the reality of fake research in the environment in the industry of AEC and CRE the built environment, as always.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for unpacking this for us and we'll do it again next week. And for those of you out there that are watching us live, join us again next week. We're going to keep doing this live. The recording will go to the podcast, but you have the opportunity to view this live and even ask questions, I believe, as we go. So we'll be back again next Wednesday at 11 am Eastern for the next KP Ready Impact. Thanks for joining us today.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for tuning in to another episode on the Shadow Network here with KP Ready as always. Remember you can connect with KP and other innovators in the AEC and CRE industry in the Shadow Partners community. Go to bitly slash Shadow Partners Community to find out more today. Until next time.

Research Bias in Startup Evaluation
Navigating Fake Research in the Industry
Live Recording for KP Ready Impact