Before Covid became a byword for disruption, focus groups were the go-to solution for those who wanted to know what people thought about something. The pandemic swiftly put paid to these physical gatherings but in so doing it created a gap for an alternative. This opened the door for social research start-up, OpinionX, which provides a remote way of nailing people’s views about things.
“Covid accelerated our development because suddenly there was a need to move online and people were open to the idea in a way they hadn’t been in the past,” says Daniel Kyne who co-founded OpinionX with Darragh O’Flaherty towards the end of last year.
“Our platform can extract more information than conventional tick-box surveys, it can do it faster and more thoroughly than focus groups and it doesn’t require a professional facilitator.
“There’s just three easy steps. Ask a question, send a link to participants and let them engage. We then gather the results in real time, provide an overview of the discussion and offer consensus and division analysis that ensures people find the best and most supported way forward.
“It’s really difficult to understand people’s opinions at scale using existing research tools,” he adds. “We can help social researchers to discover hidden insights they didn’t even know to look for while making the entire research process quick and easy with no more oversimplifying of data or spending weeks analysing pages of results. Our platform collects the collaborative insights and validates them statistically, but rather than limiting participants to a tick-the-box survey, we let them vote on each other’s opinions using a simple agree/disagree format.
“This makes the experience more engaging and creates some very interesting effects. With our method, quiet voices get just as much of a say as the louder ones that usually dominate a focus group or forum.”
Kyne and O’Flaherty are newly minted DCU graduates who studied marketing, innovation and technology, and computer applications and software engineering respectively. They joined the New Frontiers programme in TU Dublin Blanchardstown last November and are participating in the NDRC’s ArcLabs accelerator in Waterford.
O’Flaherty has built the platform from scratch and the company’s first pilot user came on board in April. Since then, four more have started and three of them are related to higher education.
Kyne says this is coincidental as the platform, which will be targeted at the global market, will work wherever an opinion is required regardless of sector.
OpinionX has recently made its first two hires and investment raised to date (between Enterprise Ireland and the NDRC) is €130,000. The business will have its commercial launch towards the end of the year with a seed round to follow in Q1 of 2021.
The company will make its money by offering the platform as a SaaS solution. “The inspiration for OpinionX came from our experiences of working on digital and civic research projects as students,” Kyne says. “We developed a deep understanding of how to meaningfully engage large groups of people in deliberative decision making and once we started looking, we noticed that loads of open-response surveys and endless focus groups were being used for the most part unproductively.
“Our platform speeds up the analysis of all the unstructured text and automatically pulls out the golden nugget insights that form the basis of the researchers’ reports. This will make their lives so much easier.”
Kyne says OpinionX is flipping traditional market research on its head by putting more control in the hands of the participants. “They get to shape the outcomes much more as our platform prioritises their experiences and collaboration over highly structured tick-the-box surveys.
“Basically, we’re pioneering a new hybrid-survey segment within the research industry that offers more than Zoom focus groups, online questionnaires and ethnographic research tools.”