By Caitlyn Spencer
While the research firm he runs and the network he works for have both been labeled upstarts, Dr. David Coletto is courteous and well-spoken, a diplomat. “The people working for Sun News really believe there’s a need for a different voice, a different perspective on the news,” says the CEO of Abacus Data. “Whether or not you agree with it, it’s good to have it there.”
Coletto graduated from the University of Calgary with a PhD in political science in July 2010 and promptly started his youth-focused marketing research company. The following spring, he started appearing on Sun News providing commentary about public opinion.
Raised in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Coletto was lured to the Calgary by the promise of working with Dr. Lisa Young (his doctoral supervisor, alongside Dr. David Stewart), and the opportunity to gain a new perspective. “I think we have a lot of stereotypes about Albertans in Ontario. None of those stereotypes are true,” he says. “Calgarians are very proud of their city and where they live.”
Coletto participated in a number of extracurricular organizations, becoming president of the Graduate Students’ Association, chair of the Alberta Graduate Council and a member of the Board of Governors.
Sun News and Abacus both approach their fields differently, Coletto says. Sun wants to make news more opinionated and Abacus is advocating for the validity of online research and arguing for a better understanding of “millennials” – Canadians born after 1980.
Abacus research has found that many older Canadians view millennials as spoiled, lazy and apathetic but Coletto has a different assessment. “I think we’re looking for people who engage with us on our level.”
Coletto, 29, and his fellow millenials at Abacus have an edge in understanding the demographic. “It’s good for research companies to say they can connect to younger Canadians, but it’s another thing to have a team that is that generation. To do good research, you have to understand and connect.”
It’s been a great first year in business, including being one of only three firms to predict the 2011 election within a margin of error, says Coletto. “It’s been a whirlwind.”