From Corporate to Startup: Hakan Yurdakul’s Leadership in Market Research Innovation

Hakan Yurdakul: Unveiling the Thrills of Startup Leadership & Balance

In the bustling world of tech and innovation, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Hakan Yurdakul, the CEO and Head of Strategy at Bolt Insight, for a candid interview on The Bright Founders Talk at Temy. 

This intriguing session delved into the journey of Bolt Insight, an agile market research company revolutionizing the way businesses understand their markets through hybrid research. Hakan, a seasoned marketer with a rich global background, shared his transition from FMCG to spearheading a startup that addresses the real-time needs of businesses seeking deeper consumer insights. 

His unique blend of corporate experience and entrepreneurial spirit has positioned Bolt Insight at the forefront of market research innovation, leveraging AI while maintaining a crucial human touch. Join us as we unravel the story of Bolt Insight, a company born out of necessity, transforming industry norms and empowering businesses with data-driven decision-making.

Hakan Yurdakul: Unveiling the Thrills of Startup Leadership & Balance

Hakan Yurdakul: The Man Who’s Shaping the Future of Market Research

As the conversation with Hakan Yurdakul heated up, it became clear that this was no ordinary chat. Here was a man who’d traded the corporate ladder for the roller coaster of entrepreneurship, all in the name of revolutionizing market research. He laughed a bit as he recounted his journey, “From global FMCG to the tech frontier, my path has been anything but predictable!”

From global FMCG to the tech frontier, my path has been anything but predictable!

Hakan’s story is a fascinating one. Once navigating the intricate world of international marketing, he found himself grappling with the sluggish pace of gaining genuine consumer insights. The frustration was palpable in his voice as he described the old way of doing things: slow, cumbersome, and often not quite hitting the mark. But it wasn’t just a personal gripe; Hakan saw a universal challenge that needed a bold solution. “We wanted to change how businesses make more informed decisions,” he said, his eyes lighting up with the fire of someone who’s not just talking the talk.

And so, Bolt Insight was born, a brainchild of necessity and innovation. Hakan’s narrative took an enthusiastic turn as he detailed how they’re blending cutting-edge AI with a human touch to deliver insights at a speed and depth previously unheard of. He leaned in, sharing the secret sauce, “We’re not just about cool tech. We’ve been on the other side, we know the pains and needs. That’s why our clients love us.” It was a statement that summed up the essence of Bolt Insight and the man behind it – passionate, innovative, and relentlessly focused on making a real difference.

Hakan’s Trailblazing Journey: Building Bolt Insight from the Ground Up

When Hakan Yurdakul started talking about the early days of Bolt Insight, you could see the passion in his eyes. Convincing blue-chip companies to adopt a brand-new solution was no walk in the park. “It’s all about breaking the mold,” Hakan shared. He explained how these companies are often risk-averse, sticking to tried-and-true methods. The challenge wasn’t just selling a product; it was about shifting a mindset, encouraging them to take a leap of faith. “It takes a lot of motivation, encouragement, and personal credibility,” he confessed. Hakan’s understanding of his client’s shoes – having been in them himself – gave Bolt Insight the edge it needed.

It takes a lot of motivation, encouragement, and personal credibility

But it wasn’t just about convincing clients; it was about building a team that shared his vision. Hakan likened b2b marketing to b2c, stressing the importance of understanding and solving the client’s problems. “Don’t be a vitamin, be an antibiotic,” he quipped, his advice reflecting the urgency and significance of offering tangible, immediate solutions in a market dominated by giants. His approach wasn’t just about quick fixes; it was about creating a co-creation environment, where Bolt and its clients grew and innovated together. This philosophy wasn’t just smart; it was necessary.

Now, with a team of 40 split between the UK and Turkey, Bolt Insight is more than just a startup; it’s a force to be reckoned with. The UK team handles the client-facing side, while the Turkey team delves into the nitty-gritty of research and development. This division of labor isn’t just practical; it’s symbolic of Bolt Insight’s approach: blending the best of human interaction with the depth of technical analysis. As Hakan put it, “We’re almost making decisions as if the customers are sitting next to us.” And in a way, they are, every step of the way.

Hakan Yurdakul: Crafting a Culture of Curiosity and Ownership at Bolt Insight

In the heart of our conversation, Hakan Yurdakul leaned forward, his eyes alight with the fervor of someone who’s not just leading a team but cultivating a culture. “When you’re in a startup, you’re not just hiring employees; you’re building pioneers,” he mused. The shift from the corporate to the entrepreneurial world taught him the value of a wider talent pool, but the challenge, he noted, was not just finding talent but inspiring it. “It’s about creating that chemistry,” he said, emphasizing the importance of drawing people who are as passionate about the mission as he is.

When you’re in a startup, you’re not just hiring employees; you’re building pioneers

For Hakan, the key traits in a team member are curiosity and an owner’s mindset. “Are they here to just tick a box, or are they here to leave a mark?” he asked rhetorically. This isn’t about filling a seat; it’s about finding co-creators, individuals who view the company’s challenges and successes as their own. He shared his philosophy: “Ideas can come from anywhere,” stressing that innovation isn’t the sole domain of any one department but a collective endeavor. This approach isn’t just a strategy; it’s a necessity in a startup where every team member’s contribution is critical to the company’s trajectory.

The Bolt Insight team, according to Hakan, isn’t just working together; they’re growing together. “Every person needs to feel like they’re an owner,” he asserted. It’s a sentiment that goes beyond mere job descriptions, fostering an environment where everyone is empowered to contribute, innovate, and lead. This isn’t just about building a company; it’s about nurturing a community of thinkers, doers, and dreamers united by a shared vision. “You need to have that open culture where everybody almost feels like an owner of the business,” Hakan concluded, his vision for Bolt Insight clear and compelling.

Hakan Yurdakul: Navigating the Highs and Lows of Entrepreneurial Life

In the heart of our conversation, Hakan Yurdakul shared the exhilarating journey from the corporate behemoth to the nimble world of startups. “The margin of impact in entrepreneurship is much larger,” Hakan stated, his voice tinged with excitement and a hint of nostalgia for his corporate days. While he cherishes his time in the structured world of big business, the thrill of making a real, tangible impact in a startup is what keeps his adrenaline pumping. “Every decision, every idea can steer the ship,” he explained, painting a vivid picture of the dynamic, fast-paced environment where every team member’s input can make or break the venture.

The margin of impact in entrepreneurship is much larger

Balancing this rollercoaster ride with family life is another challenge Hakan addressed with a candid openness. Connecting from his daughter’s room, he smiled at the flamingos in the background, a symbol of the agile, flexible approach he’s adopted. “It’s about quality, not quantity,” he emphasized, discussing the importance of being fully present during the precious hours he dedicates to his family each evening. This isn’t just about finding balance; it’s about making every moment count, ensuring that when he’s with his loved ones, he’s giving them 100% of his attention and care.

As our conversation drew to a close, Hakan’s passion for Bolt Insight and the revolutionary potential of agile market research was palpable. He urged businesses, big or small, to take consumer research seriously, highlighting Bolt Insight’s innovative tools that deliver rapid, insightful feedback. “Gone are the days of waiting months for answers,” he declared, a statement that encapsulates not just his business philosophy but his approach to life – fast, impactful, and forward-thinking. “It was a pleasure to talk,” Hakan concluded, his gratitude and enthusiasm leaving a lasting impression as we looked forward to seeing what he and his team would achieve next.

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