Thomas K.R. Stovall knows about the power of partnership and feedback: He lives with it every day.
The Google for Entrepreneurs and CODE2040 entrepreneur in residence with Chicago’s 1871 is the founder of CandidCUP Micro Feedback, a micro-survey program that allows for any room to be a focus group in just a few seconds.
Using different mechanisms to direct people online microsurveys, Stovall and his team at CandidCUP can give people a means to provide short-format feedback for professional use.
“It’s literally for transportation, it’s for government, it’s for businesses, anybody who needs to know what people who they work with or do business with would think. And that’s pretty much everybody,” Stovall said.
So far, faith-based organizations, city leaders and transportation companies have all expressed interest in working with CandidCUP and the company’s monitoring system to learn more about the people they serve.
In one recent example of the service in use, Stovall teamed up with Diageo, the largest producer of premium wine, beer and spirits in the world, to gather feedback on the company from attenders at sponsored events, getting hundreds of responses, he said.
For companies like Diageo, microsurveys serve a key component to branding, allowing for marketing materials to match the narrative for the company that customers had built in their minds, Stovall said, even when it doesn’t necessarily match the brand that the company had built for itself.
Since starting CandidCUP after his 18-month-old real estate equity business collapsed a few years ago, Stovall has realized that the information collected often extends beyond just the single question asked, he said.
“No two rooms are the same. People say ‘What can you get from one question?’ Well, when you ask one question to a room full of people and get an immediate response, you find out some really interesting things, because you’re getting 2-, 3-, 400 different viewpoints on this one highly targeted thing,” he said. “In aggregate, you get a really good view of the whole experience because people say what they’re thinking but they also are going to give you a bunch of feedback about other areas too.”
As the entrepreneur in residence for 1871 in partnership with CODE2040, Stovall said there are five pieces to the diversity initiative he is pursuing: closing the foundational knowledge gap in business, creating consistent access to capital, sourcing opportunities and leveraging relationships, hosting live networking events, and tying it all together into a searchable and diverse platform, called Tech Launch Party.
Stovall is also spearheading the “Black in Tech” technology panel at 1871 as an opportunity to introduce those interested in the industry to relatable professionals who have built their businesses one step at a time.
“By the end of the conversation, they’re like, ‘Hey, this guy is just like me. He didn’t have much when he started. He just used what he had and built what he built and took that one milestone and turned it into two,’” Stovall said. “It’s a very vulnerable panel, and I think that’s why it works.
Having a working partnership with CODE2040 will give Stovall the means to amplify the diversity work he has already started at 1871, he said. And working in tandem with six other EIRs around the county only adds to the opportunity, he said.
“It’s one thing for it to be Thomas Stovall in Chicago who’s one person organizing this thing and caring about the community. It’s a different situation when you’ve got Google behind you, you’ve got CODE2040 behind you, when you’ve got an entire nation watching what you’re doing and wanting to invest in it,” he said.
But he can’t do it alone, Stovall said.
“I think the fastest way for us to really, really make an impact is collaboration. The thing that I want to leave behind in my one year as being the entrepreneur in residence for Chicago, is creating collaborations literally with every single organization in the city that is doing something, leading initiatives for people of color in technology.”
To get in touch with Stovall and learn more, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Black In Tech series, follow along on Facebook, Twitter or Periscope with @imblackintech. To let Stovall know about your ideas for diversity in tech, text EIR2040 to 41411 for a short microsurvey.