Harald Kruse

Partner with BNM since February 2016

The best companies are deeply aware of their customers. Listen to the market. Use data.

At my first internship, my boss asked me to “show him the internet.” Within two years everything we were doing involved the internet, and I decided to take a chance to work at a startup tech company instead of going into banking.

I was on the original five-person team at Priceline that was building the hotel product – from the initial white board session. I had only booked a few hotels in my life at that point, but learned from the travel experts at Priceline and from calling well over 100 hotels what was important in the booking process. I built the original pricing suggestion engine from those phone calls because we couldn’t afford to buy the data, and built the pricing analysis that got the original W Hotel to give us aggressive pricing when it first opened up. We filled that hotel very quickly with Priceline users and the product quickly became a tool for hoteliers to fill rooms for a new opening, after a major renovation or any other soft demand period.

Building something that generates revenue is fulfilling to me. I find the small gems in organizations, and figure out how to turn them into something that makes money. I was naturally good at that at Priceline, and honed that skill doing digital strategy consulting work at Capgemini.

Mobile technology has also been a personal passion of mine. When I was getting my MBA, I did an internship at ABC News and was tasked with creating their first WAP site. This was a year before the iPhone even came out. There were really no standards. But you could see the potential. By 2012, I was the mobile lead/evangelist at Razorfish’s New York office. Every client wanted to bring mobile into the mix, and we tried to help them really leverage it to achieve specific goals.

I’ve always found the intersection of digital and physical worlds is particularly fascinating. It’s one of the reasons why I took a job at the mobile payments platform Softcard. There is no better integration of real world and physical world than using a digital tool to buy something in a brick and mortar store.

While I was there, we combined elements of mobile data and social media data to create a highly targeted ad platform that tracked from ad impression to in-store purchase. Although the company was sold to Google before it took off, that was one of the most valuable and applicable experiences I’ve had to date.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is “start by starting.” This came from when I was a Product Manager at TheLadders, my first role using Agile as a development philosophy. The job demonstrated how important it was to create an MVP (minimal viable product), and get it out to market quickly so we could start collecting data.

My philosophy in business, and in life, is that you should always play fair. You will run into the person on the other side of the pitch (or boardroom table) again in the future.

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