Meet the Kalibrate team: Charles Wetzel, CEO, eSite
At Kalibrate, we believe our success is driven as much by our people as our technology. Here, we meet Charles Wetzel, CEO at eSite.
What’s your role at eSite?
Technically my title is CEO although my LinkedIn and our website doesn’t even show that. That just goes to my style; I am willing to play any role as long as it is centred around driving value for our customers and team members at eSite.
What does a typical day look like?
My day-to-day role is heavily customer facing. At eSite we are in the service business. The questions that we are solving for while relatively complex, requires us to break it down to our customers who are looking to understand what our answers mean to them. Whether it is a revenue forecast, cannibalization impact, competitive play – at the end of day our clients want to make sure that they are using our insights for the business questions that are being asked. More often than not, my role is speaking to existing customers about what we are doing, how we can do better, and ensuring that our products and platform are evolving to meet their needs.
The other portion of my day is spent speaking with potential new customers and helping them understand why we believe eSite is different; how we believe our approach to analytics is better, and working to identify if we are a solution fit. By doing those two things, it naturally intersects across all sectors of eSite from operations to finance to marketing. On a normal week, I will traverse 90% of all eSite employees and that gives me the ability to work with the team on what we are trying to solve for and if needed provide my point of view from an eSite perspective.
What do you love about your role?
I love a lot of things about my role. We are in the business of creation and it allows a high degree of ingenuity to dream about what is possible – working with people that want to solve very complex questions in a very simple way. What is most exciting is seeing people grow in their careers, whether they come in very green or have a lot of previous work experience, because what we do is so unique. It can take a little bit of time to really understand what we do and for the light bulb to turn on. I live for the light bulb moment not only from our team members but also from our clients – feeling their excitement of “we can do this; we can solve for this.” Then to feel that appreciation from the client when we “run through fire” for our customers.
I also love the fast pace of our business. Our clients have usually hired us mentally months before our engagement begins so we start off with our backs already against the wall. Then there is the juggling of a lot of different clients. This is not a job for someone that likes to do the same thing day-in and day-out. There are high highs and low lows, but I’d like to think that there are more highs than lows.
The third thing is that we really do build better communities. Even though you could argue that the landscape is relatively saturated from a retail perspective, we are trying to make the communities we serve through our clients – better areas to live in. This is something that I have always felt, even when I started in this space 20 years ago.
Tell us about your journey with eSite
Back in 2006, while running Buxton, we lost a deal to eSite – a company I hadn’t come up against before. To learn more about them, I had a contact connect us. I kept a loose working relationship with eSite over the years. In 2013 after leaving the analytics space, I met again with eSite’s founder Tom Blazer to rekindle the conversation. Over the next two years we began to truly talk about how we could do this together and formed our business partnership in 2015. When we formed the partnership, Tom knew that in five years he was interested in stepping back, and even through COVID we were able to stick with our plan.
Where do you think eSite is heading?
As long as we keep our ear to the ground, and the ground being our customers and team members – I think the journey is going to lead to a lot of different paths. From a customer value and employee ability to grow it is truthfully very large. What we are doing in the space is not for the meek. We are trying to consolidate the best-in-class players in location intelligence environment globally. Then looking to add on elements and pockets of revenue that we feel could be addressed such as marketing and pricing. From a product creation perspective, we have a lot more to develop and create. From an integration perspective, as we start getting to know each other more, we are working to identify the areas that we each can do as well as identify the right product set for the right customer. We are heading towards an overarching integration, and while it will take a little bit of time, we will bring a lot of value to our customers and team members.
What do you think are the greatest challenges and opportunities facing retailers?
The challenge is an obvious one – how do you still appeal to the consumer given various restrictions that were imposed (now starting to lift) and how do determine who you are going to be tomorrow? The challenge will be for brands in the retail and restaurant space to do an incredible amount of testing, listening, and adjusting with what they have. I believe you will see a lot of concepts lose sight of their priorities and alienate who they are as a brand and their customers.
The biggest opportunity is for those that are not currently leaning into the customer is to make sure that their venue or product offering meets the needs of the trade areas. There is opportunity for companies to take market share. eSite and the Kalibrate companies are poised to help our clientele, who are all forward thinking and forward leaning businesses, to do this. With this push from our clients, it will continue to help us evolve our technology and solutions in a way that our competitive peer sets will not.
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