by Colin Hanner
November 19, 2018

TrendKite is all about the data. The team is so focused on data, in fact, that inside their offices, wall-to-wall TVs display metrics on everything from the team’s latest sprints to their sales and retention successes. This dedication is also reflected throughout the company — their engineering team, for example, is working to revolutionize the marketing technology space. 

Without question, the ability to gather data, experiment with different methods and optimize at scale has changed the world in the past decade, but TrendKite is one of the few companies in martech bridging the gap between brands and insights on their earned media. 

We spoke with three members of TrendKite’s engineering team on the kinds of technologies and software they’re developing — and how they’re upending what it means to be efficient in the world of PR. 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY HANNAH KOEHLER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HANNAH KOEHLER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HANNAH KOEHLER

FOUNDED: 2012

EMPLOYEES: 218, 190 locally

WHAT THEY DO: Through its digital PR software products, Trendkite aims to bridge the gap between brands and media companies, and the impact of their published marketing efforts. 

WHERE THEY DO IT: Austin

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM(S) WORK: Team members lead resource groups — diversity and inclusion, health and wellness, philanthropy, and women empowerment in the workplace — to encourage communication between departments. 

KITCHEN FIX: TrendKite boasts one of the best-stocked kitchens in Austin for every meal, though its central downtown location is close to several popular eats. 

GROWTH, AND A LOT OF IT: TrendKite has grown more than threefold in the past three years, but remains grounded in its roots. Learn more

 

Chris Copeland, Chief Technology Officer

As a member of the company’s executive team, Chris leads the product delivery organization, which covers the design, product management, engineering, devops, data science and data engineering phases.  

BEYOND WORK: With three continents and 13 countries under his belt (and counting), Chris has seen lots of the world, but he really enjoys keeping it local and spending time with his two sons.

 

What’s a current project you’re working on that you’re especially excited about?

In mid-2018, TrendKite merged with InsightPool and Union Metrics bringing together three great teams and three very powerful products. As we continue the deep integration of our products and datasets, we’re able to create really compelling features that follow earned media from publication to social conversation and the influencers engaged in that conversation.   

 

MORE ON TRENDKITEGrowth (and a lot of it): How TrendKite remains grounded as it grows

 

How do you encourage innovation within your team?

Giving the team space and autonomy to solve problems is key. The individuals working hands-on to design and build the product are in the best position to find the most innovative solutions. As leaders, we ensure the team understands our goals and why they are important – the team figures out the best way to achieve those goals.  

 

Giving the team space and autonomy to solve problems is key. The individuals working hands on to design and build the product are in the best position to find the most innovative solutions."

 

Where do you see TrendKite going from here? 

In the next year, I see TrendKite fleshing out our complete digital PR platform and delivering data and insight available nowhere else. In five years, and hopefully fewer, we will have accomplished our goal to create the next iconic martech company.  

 

Laura Arbilla, Software Engineer

Laura is currently focused on big data ingestion and data processing software products, but her larger picture responsibilities include removing knowledge silos and staying one step ahead in TrendKite’s choice of technologies and tools.  

BEYOND WORK: Staying mentally and physically fit through Pilates and walking with friends helps Laura stay productive and focused, and also helps her strike a balance between her work and home life. 

 

How does the technology you’re building provide value for the PR industry?

In today’s internet age, the amount of available information for the PR professional is beyond human scale. With our products, we make this massive amount of information accessible for effective decision-making through visualization, insights and discovery. We focus on presenting the data in the way PR professionals need it.

 

From a tech perspective, how does TrendKite compare to the other startups you’ve worked with? 

I like writing useful, sophisticated and cool software products – I miss it when I don’t do it, actually. TrendKite is larger than most of the Austin startups I’ve worked for in the past 25 years, yet we run engineering in a fast and nimble way, like many startups would. I’m used to wearing many hats and juggling several things at once, and I believe an efficient team — like TrendKite — can do a lot with less if it practices continuous improvement and automation. 

 

I’m used to wearing many hats and juggling several things at once, and I believe an efficient team — like TrendKite — can do a lot with less if it practices continuous improvement and automation. "

What’s one project you’re especially excited to work on?

With our recent two acquisitions (InsightPool and Union Metrics), I am most excited for new products and teams to be seamlessly integrated. I’m excited to work with new colleagues and share new knowledge bases with everyone. I think we all will learn a lot from each other, and I’m excited for that. 

 

Derek Duoba, Software Developer

Initially a full-stack developer at TrendKite, Derek soon transitioned into a tech lead, and now works as a product manager. He works closely with the engineering and design teams to see products move from inception through launch. 

BEYOND WORK: Before TrendKite, Derek ran a music-focused digital media publication, Inyourspeakers. Sensing the need for better photography, but lacking the budget to do so, he taught himself how to photograph concerts like Bonnaroo and Electric Zoo. 

 

You launched a digital media publication before coming to TrendKite. What kind of tech did you see PR using in the music industry? 

Back when I was working on Inyourspeakers, I spent a very non-trivial portion of my day interacting with publicists, be it to discuss covering a new act or to secure coverage of one of our long-time favorites. All those interactions imparted on me an enormous amount of insight into what made, and makes, the PR world tick. Thinking back, I found myself constantly amazed by how low-tech huge portions of the industry were; while sales and marketing had crossed the technological divide some time ago, PR had yet to fully embrace it.

 

It’s exciting to be on the bleeding edge of this industry and to face all of the challenges that come along with it."


How is TrendKite different from other tech teams you’ve worked on?

TrendKite prides itself on being able to move fast and make adjustments as quickly as reasonably possible. This constant need to improve our processes and deliver products more effectively is baked into our company’s DNA. Other tech firms I worked at didn’t necessarily put this much emphasis on continual improvement and intellectual honesty. I do fully believe that this is part of our secret sauce, if you will.

 

MORE ON TRENDKITEGrowth (and a lot of it): How TrendKite remains grounded as it grows

 

What is it about the PR and tech industry that excites you?

There’s still a huge frontier when it comes to helping PR professionals cross the digital divide. Martech revolutionized the way marketing and sales organizations do business, and there’s no reason to think the same won’t happen in the earned media space, a.k.a. PR. It’s exciting to be on the bleeding edge of this industry and to face all of the challenges that come along with it.

 

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