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#29 Daily Harvest’s Brad Klingenberg on How Data-Driven Personalization is Driving Food Creation

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Data and the power it wields has made its way into every industry over the last decade. From entertainment to real estate, all the way to the fashion industry, companies leading their industries are using data to create uniquely personalized digital experiences.

Brad Klingenberg is the Chief Algorithms Officer at Daily Harvest, the direct-to-consumer brand that helps stock your home with fresh, plant-based foods. Brad leads the data team and is charged with using data and algorithms to create meals Daily Harvest customers will enjoy and keep coming back for. 

On this episode of The Data Chief, Brad and Cindi discuss the importance of aligning your customers’ wants with business value to create unique experiences, and how to go about sourcing data to get the desired outcomes. Brad also dives into his previous work at Stitch Fix, and provides insights on how to scale data teams and foster a data culture. Enjoy!

Main Takeaways

  • The personalization promise to customers: : Customers aren’t giving you their data for free. They’re doing it so your business can get to know them in ways that make sense, and to use that information to create more personalized experiences for them. When the customer trusts what you’re going to use their information for, you have an opportunity – and obligation – to create a unique experience that is both beneficial for the customer and the business.
  • Tools to solve data bias: It’s quite easy for biases to be introduced into your algorithms through the data that is used. While there is an emerging set of tools to help diagnose and evaluate data bias, it’s a hard problem to solve, and one that requires getting to the root – the data itself. Everything starts with the data you have. Data teams need to put an emphasis on the diversity in their data to recognize gaps and biases.
  • Building a data-driven culture: Never before has it been more important for companies to champion a data-driven culture. Leaders need to lead by example in this shift. At the same time, data functions have a special role to play in helping companies reason with uncertainty, understand measurement and experimentation.

 

Key quotes

“It’s important to have alignment where the customer actually wants you to get to know them. At Daily Harvest people are actually really excited to share their experience and what they love to help them find more things they’re going to like in the future, but also to really help us co-create the food with them. Daily harvest sources ingredients directly from farms. From there we can more or less create anything that we want to. The job is to create food that the people are going to love, and so there’s an element of the customer actually helping us create that food through the feedback that they share that benefits both the customer and the company.”

“Data’s principal use is to help improve the experience of individual customers, but also to help innovate in our culinary portfolio. We use data to improve the surface for people in the way that tangibly improves their own experience.” 

“There’s an increasing awareness of privacy and the ways in which data is shared across companies and for reasons that customers might not intend. The idea of actually sharing with a company that has a value proposition around getting to know you and helping you find things that you love is quite different. We see people excited to share with us both through feedback built into the product, but also across all sorts of social media channels.”

“A big part of hiring people is really helping to show the impact that their role can have on a business and giving them the room to be creative and really bring data to bear on some of the most important problems in the business.”

“Sometimes it is useful to think of a hierarchy of the ways that you can use data. The first thing you need to do is have it and then to be able to look at it, interrogate it in different ways, where are the insights and the useful things and then at some point, actually being able to use it in automated ways that really plays a very active role in digital products and businesses.”

“Often getting new data is the answer [to your problems]. Getting newer, better data can be more effective than creating a better model, or being a little bit more clever, in how you’re using that data.”

“Making algorithms successful is the devil in the details, and in making sure that things are adapted to the particular structure of the problem and business that you’re working in. There’s a lot of work that goes to making something successful in a particular setting, but drawing on tools that are largely open source and freely available, and trying to make it easier for people to use things.”

About Brad

Brad Klingenberg is the Chief Algorithms Officer at Daily Harvest, the direct-to-consumer brand that helps you stock your home with clean, delicious food built on real fruit + vegetables and ready in minutes. Brad leads the data team and is charged with using data and algorithms to tailor the Daily Harvest experience to individual food values and taste preferences through the co-creation of food and digital personalization.

Prior to Daily Harvest, Brad was the Chief Algorithm Officer at Stitch Fix, where he oversaw a team of more than 140 data scientists and engineers. As the leader of the Algorithms team, Brad was responsible for developing and improving the core algorithmic capabilities that leverage data to power Stitch Fix.

Brad has also served as an advisor/consultant for Candidate Labs, Udacity, Opendoor.com, and Netflix. He currently lives in Boulder, CO with his family and holds a PhD from Stanford University, as well as a Bachelor of Science – Master of Science dual degree from University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Episode 31