One startup leads to another

vignesh krishnan

Vignesh Krishnan is the founder of Research Defender, a new startup that helps companies ensure the validity of their survey data.


Before coming to New Orleans to pursue his MBA at the Freeman School, Vignesh Krishnan (MBA ’10) spent three years working as an engineer with Dell Perot Systems. The company was anything but a startup, but Krishnan says the experience helped lay the foundation for Research Defender, the New Orleans-based tech company he launched in 2018.

“For me, it was useful to learn things like processes, the importance of showing up on time and how to work with management,” he says. “It was not a small company where anything goes, and it was good for me to get that discipline early on.”

After earning his MBA from Freeman, Krishnan joined Lucid, a New Orleans-based startup that created a software platform to connect buyers and sellers of sample, becoming the world’s largest marketplace for survey panels.

Krishnan worked at Lucid for eight and a half years, beginning as a product manager and working his way up to chief of staff. Though he wasn’t part of the founding team, Krishnan joined the company early on while it was still developing its systems.

“A lot of things that we take for granted had to be built,” he says of his early days at Lucid. “The processes I was talking about at Dell Perot — building out the sales channel, the product, establishingmanagement — a lot of those things had to be created for the company to be successful.”

Toward the end of his time at Lucid, Krishnan began to see the need for a new type of software solution, one that he felt could best be implemented independently of Lucid. Krishnan wanted the high level of focus that comes with an early-stage startup, and he also recognized that the problem he was trying to solve was something new: He wanted to focus on fraud management and data quality.

“You can’t be the auditor and also be part of the transaction,” he says. “The business model itself dictated independence. You can be more independent and nimbler if you build a separate entity.”

Originally called SampleChain, Research Defender is, like Lucid, a research technology — or ResTech — company, which refers to the technology and digital tools used in the research and insights industry.

“When companies conduct market research surveys, quality is really important to make sure the data means something,”
says Krishnan. “Just like you have fake news, you can also have fake research, or at least compromised research. Companies are making multi-million-dollar decisions based on this research, so it’s important for it to be accurate.”

Krishnan says that Research Defender’s use of the newest machine learning technology is part of what makes his software innovative. His top competitors use software that was built more than a decade ago. Another advantage, Krishnan says, is Research Defender’s team.

“A lot of us didn’t just jump into this,” he says. “We were in the industry, so we understand the benefits of high-quality
data and the costs of low-quality data.”

Krishnan has worked hard to build a highly qualified team, which he credits in part for his ability to keep an even keel.

“The problem with success is it’s a mirage,” he says. “It’s never there, and you’re just working toward this abstract
thing. Instead, your emotions should be tied to the joy of the work that you’re doing and the people that you work with.” Krishnan finds satisfaction in knowing that Research Defender’s solution is helping clients.

“When I speak to clients and they say, ‘The software really helped us to build our business,’ that’s really, really satisfying,” he says. “That’s why a business exists: to create value for somebody.”

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