Castleton Business Administration alumnus George Kuhn ’04 has brought his full-service marketing company Drive Research to downtown Salina, New York. Drive Research builds qualitative and quantitative studies for organizations ranging from Google to the Education Development Center in New York City.
After previously operating as a fully remote team, Drive Research now occupies a 1,800-square-foot facility that is fully equipped to facilitate focus groups for clients. Since the new office opened, the businesses growth has rapidly accelerated.
“Since we opened our doors at Drive Research only five years ago, we have built a small but mighty group of nine full-time and 10 part-time employees, and we continue to grow. We reached our million dollar revenue goal in 2021, and we continue to push higher — on pace to double our sales from 2020. All of this would not have been possible without everything I learned in my four years at Castleton, where I discovered my passion for market research,” Kuhn said.
For Kuhn, market research is more than simply charts and data points.
“It’s exploring. It’s investigating. It’s analyzing. Don’t get me wrong, I love data and numbers – I’d be in the wrong field if that wasn’t the case. But I most enjoy discovering and discussing the why behind a statistic. It’s important to our business that we do more than filling in graphs and tables,” he said.
Kuhn entered Castleton as an Accounting major; since he knew that he liked numbers and statistics. After a year, he changed majors to Business Administration.
“I remember sitting in a Consumer Behavior class sophomore year talking about index scores [of] people who ate Snickers bars. I fell in love. Market research is the perfect blend of statistics and marketing, and I never looked back. I felt very fortunate to learn that at Castleton as a 19-year-old kid knowing that’s exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I went to my advisor the next day and changed my major,” he said.
After completing his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration degree with a Marketing concentration and a minor in Statistics at Castleton, he completed a one-year MBA program at Clarkson University with a concentration in Innovation & New Products Management.
In June of 2016, he made the leap from employee to entrepreneur when he started Drive Research.
He stresses the importance and value of relationships when starting a business, and encourages Castleton students to work hard at developing and maintaining strong professional ties.
“I built a lot of strong friendships and relationships when I was an employee for 10 plus years before Drive Research and was able to leverage those when I started my company. It takes time, and there is no way to build a strong network quickly,” he said. “In many cases, it doesn’t matter how good your idea is, how good your product is, or how good your service is. You have to be able to build relationships or lean on past relationships and work extremely hard at them.”
He also encourages students interested in market research to continue pursuing their natural curiosity, which he considers a defining quality of people genuinely invested in the field.
“These types of people not only ask questions but also actively seek out the answers. They have a strong desire to learn more than what meets the eye, or in our case, beyond data and numbers. If you feel like you match this character profile, then market research could be an excellent fit for you,” he said.