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TechVibe Talks to Bounteous and bit-x-bit

Interview by Audrey Russo and Jonathan Kersting

Podcasts

TechVibe Radio is back on air at ESPN 970 AM every Saturday at 8:00 a.m. from the Huntington Bank Studio.

 

Learn about Bounteous' unique take on digital transformation. Discover how they helped Mars/Wrigley and Shake Shack build digital solutions to engage customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, they're hiring. That will perk you up!

It gets better. We're talking to John Unice, the new CEO of bit-x-bit, a digital forensics company in Pittsburgh. See how he plans to build on the work and momentum Founder Susan Ardisson put in place over the last 13 years. John definitely gets his two cups of joe in every day!

So fill up your mug with your favorite brew to tune in and geek out with us!

Transcription:

This is Jonathan Kersting with the Pittsburgh Technology Council. And today I am flying the tech vibe radio jets solo. My co host and boss I'm Audrey Russo, the presidency of the Tech Council. She is out sick today. So I'm going to handle all the hosting duties myself. So we're gonna have a lot of fun today just absolutely love bringing you the show because I always say we get a front row seat at the people and the companies that are just making Pittsburgh tick. And today is just no exception to that rule. We're setting up a company here that's got some deep roots in Pittsburgh tech sector we're talking to Bounteous today. Actually, they trace their roots all the way back to Lunametrics. They're one of the first companies to really get behind all the Google fun stuff when it came to things like like around search and around optimization and so forth. Until you got to two really cool people joining us today we have Jon Meck leads up some stuff here in the Pittsburgh Office. He's the VP of Marketing if I'm not mistaken, Jon.

That's it. You're marketing. I thought I remember that correctly. And we have someone joining us from the other side of the country Leah Weyandt. And you're calling in from California.

I'm calling in from Southern California. So it's a blast. 365 here today. Oh, please.

Come on. I won't hold that against you. for being on the show today. I'm so excited to tell your story today. Because you want these quiet little companies in Pittsburgh, Southside here and the work that you're doing is just so cool. I mean, you got some great clients like Mars and Shake Shack, and you're helping them with some really cool digital transformation projects. And I'm excited to learn about that with the Pittsburgh offices playing the fact that you guys are in some super hiring mode. I mean, I even saw that, you know, was it at age games? He's one of the best places to work in 2021 I mean, come on, man. That's a lot of fun.

A lot of fun. We're very proud of that.

But let's start from the introduction. So let's start with you first tell us your background and what you do with Bounteous. And then Jon, we'll get right to you with your introduction to absolutely um, I am in I lead the people team so we call it talent and culture about ideas for a reason to kind of take the focus away from people as resources and really focus on their talent and growing at you know, engagement call a culture of engagement. And been with this company in some shape or form. I'm dating myself since the early 90s. And dad grew up in the tech space so really, really excited. Like I said to be on this second round with this team.

Very exciting stuff. And then Jon you were part of Luna metrics back in the day and went through the different acquisitions that turned it into bounteous so what's what's your background man?

Sure. So I did the the Pittsburgh tour I've worked at the Pittsburgh Penguins I worked for UPMC and then I joined Lunametrics back in 2013. I've done a lot of started on the analytics team helping clients find success in their data and transitioning into the marketing role which is telling everyone about our company and our and why you want to work with us. It's been a wild ride as Luna metrics was acquired by HS two solutions and then rebranded as bounties several years ago. So now we're continuing to grow and able to tell a lot of really nice stories about our clients in the work that we're doing, and how Pittsburgh has played a key role in

Absolutely. I mean, digital transformation is such a big term thrown about these days. It's very loose, almost really hard to define. Maybe tell us like what digital transformation means for bounteous and how you help your clients grapple with digital transformation these days.

Sure, I'll take that one. And you know every company thinks about digital and talks about digital. The words digital transformation get thrown around pretty often. What we mean when we talk about that is really on digital to change the processes or the way people experience our brand. Often that means websites or apps or digital experiences. And Bounteous can help in a number of different ways from designing and building beautiful experiences, measuring and optimizing using the best data available, or growing and keeping clients and customers. So we tackle it on a number of different spectrums. And we try to help companies realize what they need to succeed and to compete and win digitally.

Very cool stuff. So maybe we can talk about like I mentioned, I alluded earlier because I thought it's just so much fun. We were putting together a cool TEQ magazine profile, in case you're listening out there and didn't know about TEQ. It's the magazine, the Pittsburgh tech council puts out every other month to profile companies like bounties and so forth. They're doing great work in Pittsburgh, and I learned the you guys working with comms like Shake Shack in March, especially the Mars Wrigley collaboration on tree town I thought was so cool, because you help them actually make Halloween happen in a virtual setting during COVID. So can you tell us about some of those stories? I think that's just so much fun.

Sure. You know, last year was such an interesting year for many companies, and the value and importance of digital was so important. It was at that time that we were able to take some of the companies we were already working with and think through new ways to create experiences and engage their users. With Mars Wrigley, we were able to help create and design and build a mobile app to help replicate that trick or treating experience. If anyone in Pittsburgh pulled it up, you would see a real time map with little doors placed around in different neighborhoods. I know I could go to my mother in Squirrel Hill and knock on her door dish. Real candy treats out of it. At the end of the day, we cashed in our credits, and we had candy mailed to our door, we didn't even have to leave that whatever we had leftover, we, we were able to donate to a charity. So it was a really great example of how digital can connect with people and really change that experience you might have. I mean, how long does it take to put that together? I mean, that sounds like a pretty complicated application. Obviously, you did that in a pretty short format, right?

We did, it was a really collaborative project, we were able to co innovate with Mars. So our design teams, our dev teams, and the Mars teams worked really closely together to bring that together. And I want to say about eight weeks, it was a very fast project, it was only able to be accomplished because of the close way that we were able to work together and quickly review the project make changes in real time, and get that out for October last year. Absolutely. I tell you what, at the end of the day, it takes really talented people to make this happen. And that's where Leah comes in. Because without the people, it's just not happening. So we had, you have a lot of pressure to make sure you build an awesome culture that people want to come to, and they want to innovate and just be their best. So tell us, let me let me obviously mean, at age names, your best place to work in 2021, I feel like you're doing something right here to tell us about the work culture you have and how you're able to attract this talent, you know, across all your offices, and especially here in Pittsburgh, because it's so near and dear to our hearts. Of course, that will absolutely. Yeah, you know, the great thing about the ad Ad Age award is that that's really people driven. So our people kind of tell them that this is a great place to work. And, you know, why do they like it, it's projects like Mars, right? These are people who are, you know, incredibly smart and love the kind of work they're doing. And you know, to be able to do kind of like the cutting edge, the things that are moving the digital needle forward. That's thrilling to them. It's career building. And so you know, we we are able to really attract people just because of the kind of client work we offer. And so it's been a really serendipitous relationship with our people, then you got to keep the people because these are the folks that they can pretty much work wherever they want to work. So once you get them on these cool projects, I'm working on treat town and helping Shake Shack, do various fun things, you got to keep them and keep that culture up and rolling. And obviously one of those things is obviously offering like a hybrid work environment as well, especially now, with the whole COVID thing pi has really increased the ability for people to work a little more remotely and so forth. Can you tell us more about that, Leah?

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, partly, you know, it's it's great client work, but it's also meaningful work. And it's also bringing in, you know, activities that people love, you know, outside of those clients projects. You know, we have annual hackathons and we have you know, fun things where we can let our hair down. We had a you know, a cooking show, cooking competition a couple weeks ago, where Yeah, people were received a secret ingredient and had an hour and a whip  fun things on the side with the hand, but also just you know, kicking back. We've always been, you know, kind of been able to work across time zones across different countries, right. And so the global pandemic really didn't pose a challenge for us. We were poised for this moment. But we love face to face. And so you know, one of our favorite, of course, club comm collaboration centers in Pittsburgh, we're now moving to a bigger space. And this really is a great place for us to meet face to face to hold training sessions to innovation labs to have clients come and visit us. It's you know, it's it serves as a beautiful offering for people.

Absolutely. just reminding our listeners we are talking to the client and john mech from bounteous and having a great conversation here, man, I'm thinking like, this is such a fun places to work. You mentioned that you're moving to the Highline in the spring, which is the newest space in Pittsburgh for tech, on the south side, reclaiming some metal, that old space and just making it wonderful and a really an innovation hub. I think at the end of the day, john, what are your feelings about just moving a few blocks down the river over to the Highline from your current offices on 18th Street?

It's so exciting for us. I think it's an actual Funny, funny story. Lunametrics first office was in the terminal building. We moved to 18th Street many years ago. And now the fact that we're coming back to a revamped Highline has a nice storyline to it. We've been walking through it and getting it prepped for moving in, hopefully sometime in the summer. And we're just so excited about all of the amenities and all of the improvements that they've made. From the restaurants to the bike trail. It's just right there. It's gonna be a wonderful place for our team to collaborate and get together whenever possible.

Absolutely. sounds absolutely spectacular. And I cannot wait for you guys to invite me to your open house. We're able to do all that kind of stuff. So just throw it out there if you want to invite me Can I'll be I'll check it out. Soon. So tell us about hiring mode in Pittsburgh. Can you give us a little more details on what you're looking for talent wise here?

Yeah. Well, you know, we when we first kind of entered the relationship with Luna, what was really attractive about that team was that they brought a real deep experience around analytics, and digital marketing. And now we've kind of grown that team to round it out. We have developers there we have QA we have client service, we have BD and so we are hiring, that space will allow us to you know, double in size and Pittsburgh so you know you can check out our offer. We have a lot of openings on our website at bounteous calm and common comm and apply.

I love it. I mean just the end of the day such a cool story too that you guys are in hiring mode here you're helping people solve really tricky problems having a good time while you're at it during the occasional baking competition with magical ingredients. I mean, there's a lot going on here and I think it just goes to show you this is what's happening here in Pittsburgh tech sector and we're so glad that you guys are part of it. If you want to go and learn more about bounteous what's the best place for them to go and check you guys out.

Early I mentioned our website, bounteous.com, but you can find us on Twitter, you can connect with us on LinkedIn, feel free to reach out to me personally, I'd love to make an introduction or say hi, again, we would love to see you in the office when people are back in person. We're very excited about the move and excited to grow the team here in Pittsburgh. Very cool. I'm excited for you guys as well. And I can't thank you enough for taking the time out of your busy days to be part of the tech five radio show you guys the best and you are truly making Pittsburgh proud. That's for sure. Thanks so much for being part of the show. Absolutely appreciate it. Hey, this is Jonathan Kersting with the Pittsburgh Technology Council learn more about the Pittsburgh Technology Council and how we can help your technology company succeed by going to PGH tech.org. Hang on tight. We're coming right back after this quick break.

This is Jonathan Kersting with the Pittsburgh Technology Council and I am hosting the show solo today. Audrey Russo, the presidency of the tech Council and my Boston co host is off today. So I'll be handling all the hosting duties. And I can't believe we're actually coming to the end of February now like the Time Is Flying by fast. And I'm really excited because on March the 22nd. The Pittsburgh tech Council has its 2021 beyond Big Data event coming up virtual event on zoom, all about data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning how they're all empowering businesses solving really tough challenges, and how they all have the potential to make our lives easier and more productive. It's really the who's who of people just all in the Big Data industry. And I really encourage people to go to pG tech.org. And check it out, sign up and be part of it. Because you will learn a lot make some great connections all around. We're excited about this event. We have it every year. And I'm glad to see it come back in March. So as I mentioned before, hosting the show myself and just recently had a really cool interview with one of our member companies a bit-x-bit. They do a cyber forensics really cool company. They've been around since like 2007 really doing cyber for cyber forensics as absolute infancy. And I got to talk to the new CEO John Unice. And this guy has just taken over Susan artisan who founded the company, she's moved over to the board position. And they got some really cool growth plans happening right now, which we think is just exciting. And there's a great foundational company here in Pittsburgh really working on unique technologies and solving some really tough problems. So it's really cool to catch up, john. So I'm gonna play you an excerpt from our one mic stand podcast that I did with john, about a month or so ago to announce the news. So you can learn more about bit by bit, and all the great work that they're doing. So give it a quick spin on right back with you after that.

Well, you know, as you mentioned, we started back in the days of the the last recession 2007. And really the springboard for the company was the lack of companies that could do what, you know, we were envisioning, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure had just been amended in 2006, which govern the use of electronic evidence and federal courts. I was a lawyer, my husband, who subsequently joined the company was a lawyer, and saw this as an opportunity that lawyers are going to need some help and doing this one and collecting evidence to on the forensic side. So that was really the beginning of the idea. And, you know, we just kept pushing on back then it was a brave new world, you know, the, the information that was rapidly developing what we needed to learn about what we needed to help our clients with, from law firms and their clients was was constantly changing, and was a really exciting time. And of course, you know, we did have the recession to go along with but when you're brand new, you know, back, my two can only really go forward. And, you know, as many have said, failure was not an option. So, you know, we started, Brett creasy, our president now was our first employee. And we kept building up the technical side and learning more about what we needed to do and developing a real niche, I think, in Pittsburgh, and then the region, about what we could do. And the the solid part of our company has always been the forensics, and that's been guided by Brett, for the last 14 years. And that is, you know, we talked about before, john, I think I think I've been on a program with Jamie butcher and you a while ago about the trade secret theft. So we used to do a lot of analysis of those employees who would leave the company and take confidential information, whether with permission or not, and that was really a grounding of what we did and testifying in court and really proving our mettle on that ediscovery obviously float along that was that was a natural companion of it. And as we're going now and I know john will be talking about more, cybersecurity has become another strength of ours and an area that we're doing a lot in as well. So We just continue to evolve. And I you know, the last thing which you probably know, we got the Allegheny County Bar Association's exclusive endorsement way back when in 2008, it's really helped us establish and move forward with the company's total credibility. And you've had that every single year since then. Fantastic.

What brought you to bit-x-bit? And then obviously, your evolution to becoming CEO?

Jonathan? Yes. So I'm an attorney. I've been practicing law for just over 20 years, the first 10 years of my my career in private practice, litigation attorney and outside law firms. And then the next 10 years, I was in House Counsel at large companies, where I oversaw the litigation process for those companies and hired, basically law firms to help us through those problems. Gotcha. When I went in house, I started to actually oversee the tools and processes that bit by bit actually provides to its clients, once you actually get an action when you're on the other side. Yeah, I started practicing in 1999. So the whole ediscovery round, Lee wasn't around then. And then that was through my practice, in my private practice, it started. So I use the rudimentary early tools, the younger lawyer, and then oversaw the use of them in House Counsel for the next 10 years. And then bit by bit, the opportunity came up late in 19, and joined in early 2020, his general counsel, and the transition really was was great, even though we're on the verge of as Susan had mentioned, the reputation of the firm way, it goes about doing things that it does, way partners with its clients, it's not a vendor, it's, it's a service provider and a partner. And it always has been a good point. I'm glad you brought that up. Yeah. Cuz it's a partnership and you work with somebody, it's not just the service, you turn on, you get information. It's like you're literally working with them hand in hand.

Exactly. Right. So I joined as general counsel and vice president and then the idea was, you know, obviously, as the company grew through the succeeding eight to nine months to see how it went with the idea about succession planning in mind, and manage was pleased with the direction of the company, Susan and Joe Bratton. Decided to transition on the CEO role then and, you know, at the end of last year, very cool stuff. And what a crazy, you're obviously stepping into a new role like this COVID going on, that just increases the week, the craziness around trying to get stuff done, but you guys continue to, to soldier on and keep making a great, really positive impact on and providing a much needed service pandemic or no pandemic, as far as that goes. So I'm just curious season, so what's it like now actually, like staging back from something that you built over the past years, and you're obviously you're planning to do this, it's still gonna feel a little strange to kind of like, take your baby and be like, okay, it's yours. Now.

We were talking briefly before the show, you know, this has been an ongoing plan from for me for the last four or five years, and I worked with a local Pittsburgh, group, women presidents organization, so there is a lot of groundwork that we all discussed is women owned businesses about what you needed to do. I'm 65. So I knew that, you know, I wasn't gonna stay around toys at but as far as how it went, and because it was gradual, you know, it, you know, I think, psychologically, you're, you're well prepared for it. And I think also, you know, really, you know, Brett has been taking a big laboring, or the last two years, he became a partner about three, three or four years ago. And so as he increased, we knew we needed to find someone who would take on the lawyer litigation role, CEO role, because Brett's, you know, championing the digital and, and the technical side of things. And when we got that email from john, we had posted a thing on LinkedIn, you know, because I had known john, just through some work, not not a huge amount of work with covestro, but had met him on speaking panels and stuff, we were just, you know, really, really pleased and taken aback. So, in terms of, it's been a gradual process, I will say, we introduced john through a party went on March 6, I think it was john. We were all allowed to be together. And basically, the very next week, we were shutting down. But because we were designated an essential business, you know, we could keep operating, although we did it remotely. So, you know, I feel like, you know, we, that leadership that we saw through a very, you know, difficult time and continues to be a difficult time with john was was simply amazing. And so not only have we not falling back at all, we've, you know, plowed ahead forward, which I'll let john talk about that. So, in terms of, you know, how we how I feel about things, how Joe, my husband feels about things, we feel like it couldn't be better with him and Brett, you know, taking taking on things so, yeah, and I'm home, I'm home, I'm not in the office. Very cool.

That's such a good story. And I'm so excited to see what's going to happen in the future. So john, let's talk about that. Because let's say the work that you do is changed so much Any pie keeps changing every day. As far as that goes, because the threats are different, the technology is different, how it implicates legal stuff is just crowded how you stay on top of it. So tell us about the future. I know you're you're trying to get more of a nationwide footprint, which I think is exciting, you've got some new products and services to be rolled out, give us a little little taste of what we can expect to be rolling the 2021 and beyond.

Sure, so I'll take it maybe step wise, as far as our main service offerings, or talk about ediscovery. We have in the two review platforms offer our clients very strong analytical functions for artificial intelligence is embedded in these tools. And it helps attorneys find relevant documents faster, more accurately, and ultimately cheaper for the client. So we have a special expertise in using these technologies and leveraging them. The old way of thinking is from attorneys, your human eye on every single document. And that's just not the case anymore. Susan mentioned the dawn of E discovery when bit by bit started. Since then, there's been litigation in cases around whether or not technology is appropriate to use when disclosing your affiliate discharging obligations. Okay. And so one of our strengths, I think, are the people that we have running the tools and the actual tools embedded in our software, and our clients realize the true benefits to this.

We are back. Thanks for hanging out with us appreciate so much. As you can see John's a good guy. The company is just so exciting. The things they do are amazing. I know he's gonna have some really awesome stories to tell, based on some of the work they've done over the years. But that would be for a whole other time as far as that goes. But hey, I can't thank you enough for being part of tech five radio this Saturday morning. So glad you can make us part of your weekend. Hopefully we give you a little knowledge about some of the great stuff happening here in Pittsburgh tech sector. Really all the stuff that's making Pittsburgh just awesome place that is right now that is for sure. So if you wanna learn more about the Pittsburgh Technology Council, we help our tech companies succeed. It's good PGH tech.org so many reasons to join up and be part of what we're doing kind of ride that tech wave with us. We've been riding this wave since 1983. So it is no joke, that's for sure. And we're gonna see you next weekend right here on ESPN. 970 bring you more of these awesome stories from Pittsburgh tech sector. Once again. Jonathan Kersting from the Pittsburgh Technology Council PGH tech.org have an awesome and safe weekend everybody. The Pittsburgh Technology Council has been helping our region's tech companies succeed since 1983. The Pittsburgh Technology Council helps its members meet new customers hire top talent, make headlines and have a strong voice in government. From startup to multinational. The PTC helps tech companies and advanced manufacturers from all sizes, see how we can help your venture grow at PGH tech.org. That's PGH tech.org

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Transcribed by https://otter.ai