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Usurv is a new market research firm that uses a network of websites to run fast, cost effective surveys.

Clients can target different demographics and see the results start to roll in within the hour.

To find out more about how it works and who started the company I spoke to marketing director Guy Potter...

In one sentence, what is Usurv?

A self-service survey tool that uses the power of the web to let anyone from individuals and small businesses to major brands and their agencies conduct extremely quick, accurate, low cost market research by polling web surfers across our nationwide network of partner sites.

What problem/s does Usurv solve?

Market research has been slow, expensive and not easily accessible to smaller businesses especially.  

We make it cheaper and faster, without compromising on quality. Prices start from £10 for short online polls using our technology. And you can see the results of a survey of 1,000 people in as little as an hour.

Traditional online research, such as omnibus surveys, relies on emailed questionnaires served to paid panels of respondents that complete surveys for cash. This gets expensive and slow (response rates are well below 10%) and you rely on a panel of ‘professional’ survey respondents. 

We use a recognised methodology called River Sampling, where questions are answered in the ‘flowing river’ of the internet by people surfing on web sites.

The sites use a motivating message such as “help keep our content free by answering the questions below.” 

Our 30% response rate helps deliver results in as near to real time as possible, at a fraction of the cost and from a wide cross section of people. 

Partner sites share in the revenue, so we’re  giving online publishers another way of monetising content.

When and why did you launch it?

The site has been up since the start of this year. 

Our Chairman, Martin Bysh, is an internet entrepreneur who came up with the idea.  He had previously built bespoke real-time polling software into his own sites to get site feedback and surveys for PR. 

A few years ago Martin conceived of a market research business built around a network of disparate 3rd party sites that anyone could use to get the kind of feedback he had come to take for granted, but which was still - for most firms - inaccessible at worst, and expensive and slow at best. 

So when he sold his last business he decided to build Usurv. 

Who is your target audience?

Businesses who want to make smarter, more informed decisions by using online feedback from the public.  

What do people think of my idea for a new product or service? What do they like about my competitors?  What’s a good product name?

Heavy users of online surveys such as marketing and PR departments and their agencies are also a primary target.  

Because we let them get survey data in an hour or so, they can respond quickly to opportunities. Whether that’s running a tactical promotion or using research to support a PR campaign built around a breaking news story.     

What are your immediate goals?

Our site’s up, fully tested and ready for action. So now we want to get as many people using it as we can. Give it a go!

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Usurv?

Building up the technology and infrastructure was obviously a major hurdle. 

Sitting behind Usurv are sites of all kinds, from all kinds of industries and we have to deal with huge traffic and complex inventory calculations to deliver surveys and server responses reliably and at high speed. 

But we think one of our big challenges will be to educate small businesses that they can now do the research that they always needed to do quickly and cost effectively. 

I’ve a 20 year market research background, including running my own agency, and I myself was skeptical when I first linked up with Martin. 

I spent months rigorously testing the system and I’m totally convinced our results stack up against all the existing big name online survey providers.  

Our credibility is endorsed by the fact that Google offers a similar online survey product in the USA.  

But they aren’t yet in Europe yet – we think partly because the way they use cookies to build demographic profiles from people’s online behaviour may impinge on European privacy rules. 

How will the company make money?

We charge users per question based on the size of the target sample.  

Who is in your team?

We’re a team of six including myself and Martin and our CTO, Marcus Hamilton. 

One of our advisers is my brother Gavin Potter who achieved widespread acclaim for his work in developing a movie recommendation algorithm in Netflix’s high profile crowd sourcing contest.   

Where would you like to be in one, three and five year’s time?

The plan is to build Usurv up to enable our users to ask specialist audiences and grow into international markets.  This means working with more publishers who can help grow that side of our business.  

In five years time we would like this process to be complete.

Other than Usurv, what are your favourite websites / apps / tools?

Skype - it has revolutionized my communications.

UserTesting.com – no site or change should go live without first using this amazing service.

Strava Run - the running app is a favourite as it enables me to be the fastest UK runner over a particular course.

All chess apps – fill any spare moment I may have sitting on a train.

David Moth

Published 9 August, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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