Discuss.io has reeled in a $5 million funding round to continue its mission to disrupt the focus group.
The Seattle startup, which has now landed a total of $6.35 million since it was founded in 2012, uses video conferencing and crowdsourcing to help brands learn more about their consumers. It’s a digital and tech-focused take on the traditional market research strategy of gathering people in a physical room. Clients can use the platform to get feedback from consumers in just two days, and quickly alter plans based on that information.
“We believe that gathering consumer insights should be quick and hassle-free,” Discuss.io Founder and CEO Zach Simmons said.
Past investor and Discuss.io customer Unilever Ventures led the Series A round, along with Pereg Ventures. In addition to Unilever, which owns brands like Lipton and Axe, other Discuss.io customers include PepsiCo, Nestle, Danone, and Godrej.
Discuss.io will use the money to develop its product and add more sales and engineering employees. Today, the company employs 37 people, and 14 of them are based out of the company’s Seattle office in the Fremont neighborhood. Discuss.io also has an engineering team in Poland, sales people spread across the U.S. and Europe, and operations staff around the world.
Simmons, a former Amazon Web Services product manager, saw an opportunity to build a product from the ground up that took advantage of new web technologies to facilitate smoother conversations between companies and focus group participants. Getting feedback from customers is an important way for brands to know how people are perceiving their products and plans, but such focus groups can be costly and time-consuming, putting them out of range for some companies.
“The market research industry is ripe for a big change. The industry has been talking about online qualitative research for years,” Simmons said.
But the competition, which includes traditional methods of conducting focus groups in person as well as software solutions like FocusVision and Adobe Connect, “did not present a clear enough benefit to warrant a change,” Simmons noted.
“Securing this latest round of financing will allow us to democratize market research, and make it easily available and affordable for everyone,” he said.