The Insider on Campus Insights ft. Kelsey Bishop

With the rise of platforms where every-day customers can provide feedback on new products, Campus Insights brings a unique addition to the table. We reached out to Kelsey Bishop, former Head of Business Development, to chat about her experience at BC and experience developing the foundation of a startup company as an undergrad.


What is your major?

Finance and Entrepreneurship


Where are you from?

Kinnelon, New Jersey


Why did you choose BC?

Though I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do after school, both of my parents studied and worked in business and I knew I wanted to do something in the business world. I was really impressed with the Carroll School of Management and thought it'd expose me to different parts of business and open up a lot of doors. 

What is Campus Insights?

Campus Insights specializes in Gen Z and Millennial user research. We help companies understand what individuals candidly think about products and brands by conducting interviews and focus groups around the world. We ultimately deliver interview recordings (with both participant’s face and computer/phone screen) and actionable insights to improve your messaging, workflows, and design. We conduct a wide range of product and brand-focused research, including usability testing, iterative prototype testing, ethnographic research, logo/brand research, competitive research, and longitudinal studies. We do both remote and in-person interviews and focus groups, sourcing from our global database and partner recruiting firms. Ultimately our work has helped companies increase onboarding conversion rates, improve user retention, and modify value propositions and brand messaging to drive more growth.  

How did you find out about Campus Insights and how did you have time to be a part of an on-campus startup?

I was working for another startup in downtown Boston during the fall of my sophomore year and my boss at the time had told me all about the user research project Campus Insights put together for the company. When my sophomore year spring semester began, realized I had a class with Riley, the CEO of Campus Insights, so I reached out and we grabbed lunch and chatted about CI.


How did you find time to join a start-up on-campus?

I've really enjoyed being a part of start-ups while also taking classes at BC - I've also worked for companies like OmniShine, and Dorm Room Fund while being a student because I think it's really valuable in getting real-world business experience. Though it was a bit difficult to balance at first, I learned to only commit to working for companies that I really enjoyed, which made it a lot easier.


What was one of the biggest challenges of being a part of an on-campus startup?

To be completely honest, I think having the opportunity to work while still in school has been such a blessing. I've been given so much exposure to what it takes to build a business and I've been able to get a leg up when looking for jobs after school by having previous work experience. I think the biggest challenge might have been doing something off the beaten path. Most students in CSOM choose to follow the investment banking / consulting / accounting path, which I knew wouldn't work for me. When I decided not to apply for the same jobs many of my classmates were applying to, my parents and my professors gave me a bit of a hard time. Both wanted the best for me and had difficulty understanding why I'd want to work for a startup instead of a big-named bank. However, as I became more invested in the entrepreneurship scene, I think my passion for startups became evident and the people around me became much more supportive.


Campus Insights was recently acquired. Can you give us some more details about the acquisition?

Campus Insights was acquired by Harvard Student Agencies, which is the largest student-run company in the world.

“In the last three years, we have conducted a myriad of user interviews. We have learned more than we ever hoped to know about how individuals use dating apps, have gained an understanding of how a perfect artsy Instagram photo is created, have discovered what strategies students use to creatively finance their college education, and more.”

“Then, during a team-wide Campus Insights offsite on a cold winter day in 2017, we ran into a friend of ours, Ben Pleat, while standing in the checkout at a Whole Foods in Cambridge (check out his awesome startup, Doorbell). As we talked about the paths we were exploring for Campus Insights’ future, Ben said we should connect with Harvard Student Agencies and made an intro right there in the checkout line.”

“We hit it off immediately with HSA. From the beginning, we were impressed by their passion, ambition, and genuineness. We loved that they had 60 years of experience building student-run companies. And as we chatted with HSA about their plans for Campus Insights if they were to acquire it, we realized they could not just keep Campus Insights student-run, but also they could scale our business and expand our research offerings in many ways. It was the best of both worlds.”

(Source: Medium)

Did you have any support from any BC faculty? If so, how did they contribute?

BC faculty has been incredibly supportive throughout my time here, both with Campus Insights and the other companies I've been involved with. Professors like John Gallaugher, Mary Tripsas, and Gerald Kane have made introductions, helped during brainstorming sessions, and have given great life advice, which I've been so grateful for.


Do you have any advice for young women in college seeking to start or join an on-campus startup?

One piece of advice for young women in college thinking about joining a startup - do it! As a young person and especially as a student, your risk is low and the reward is unbelievable high.  You have the opportunity to learn what it's like to build a business - everything from marketing, sales, product, and strategy, but without the risk of not being able to pay rent if the company doesn't succeed. I think it's also a really interesting time for women to work in startups since the entire entrepreneurship scene is getting a bit of a makeover from the boy's club that it used to be. I think there's a ton of room, both on campus and elsewhere, for women to start stepping up into high impact roles within startups. 


So, what’s next? (for Campus Insights, Post Grad, etc.)

Campus Insights will continue to run pretty much the same - a student-run team conducting market research but under HSA. I'm excited to watch the team continue to grow and work with great clients.

After graduation, I'll be moving out to San Francisco to work at a startup called Omni, which is a company focused on on-demand storage and rental of pretty much any item you can think of. I interned on the Growth Team this past summer and continued to stay on part-time since August. I'll join full-time in September as a Community Growth Manager, focused on the customer experience, consumer insights, and expanding to new markets outside of the Bay Area.


As a startup owned by undergrads, Campus Insights had well-known clients, including Venmo, Chegg, and Airbnb. If you feel inspired to go through with your startup idea, definitely follow through and flesh out your plan—you don’t have to wait until graduation to make your ideas come to life.


Photo Sources: Kelsey Bishop