Think your project through in detail before you make it a full-time job and invest a lot of money

SurveyCircle: Find participants for online surveys

Introduce yourself and your startup company SurveyCircle to our readers!
SurveyCircle is an Internet platform, which allows you to find participants for online surveys in a free and uncomplicated manner. Many students can relate to this situation: their entire circle of friends has already taken part in their own survey. However, the sample is still too small to be able to gain statistically significant insights or to deduce well-founded recommendations for action.
How can students gain more participants for their research? This is where SurveyCircle comes into play. At SurveyCircle, Survey Managers support each other by participating in the surveys of the other Survey Managers. Further participants are external people who do not have a research project of their own, and can participate in surveys of their choice.
Moreover, it is not only Bachelor or Master students who are looking for survey respondents at SurveyCircle. Ph.D. students also use the platform for their research. In addition to scientific surveys, market research surveys are also posted at SurveyCircle. They mostly come from start-ups, who want to test their business ideas on the public.
Before going on, let me briefly introduce myself: My name is Jonas Johé and I studied Business Administration and specialized in Marketing. Between my Bachelor’s degree at the DHBW Mannheim and my Master’s degree at the University of Mannheim, I worked for three years in the marketing department of a large corporation.

How did the idea of SurveyCircle come about?
The idea came to my mind when writing my own master’s thesis at the University of Mannheim. I was looking for participants for my own online experiment and found it incredibly difficult to find participants beyond my own circle of acquaintances. There were a few survey groups on the Internet in which students were willing to help each other, but it did not work as well as expected. A rather sobering experience, especially with the approaching deadline of your thesis. Eventually I was sitting in the library and thought to myself: ‘There must be a better way’. In the end I came up with the idea to develop a ranking of surveys designed in a way that promotes mutual support.

From the idea to the start of your company, what have been the biggest challenges so far and how did you finance yourself?
The biggest challenge was to elaborate and refine the initially abstract idea, so that it finally became a functioning and logically structured prototype of the Internet platform. The first steps were purely thoughts, then written on paper, then in PowerPoint, and then in a wireframing tool. Altogether the last few months of work were pretty exciting,with numerous ups and downs that seem to be part of such a development process.
To develop the basic idea of SurveyCircle was not too time-consuming. But as soon as I began to work out the different functions of the platform and the logics behind them, I realized that quite often the devil is in the details. It can be a stony path from a good idea for a particular function to its implementation with high usability and an appealing design. There were moments when it was a real challenge to keep up your spirits, and to motivate yourself again and again. More than once, I had to give up concepts or designs that I had previously worked on for many days. It needs courage to discard things, but in the end, I was glad to have given up some specific elements.
For financing SurveyCircle we have relied on bootstrapping so far, i.e. on financing without external investors. Maybe this will change if we increasingly offer our platform in other countries and further expand its functionality.

What is the target group of SurveyCircle?
With SurveyCircle we essentially address three groups of people. Firstly, these are Survey Managers– i.e. students, Ph.D. students, future founders, start-ups and small companies, looking for volunteers for their online surveys or online experiments. The second group, are supporters of Survey Managers, usually friends or family members of those who conduct the research. They can collect points for the selected Survey Managers with each survey they participate in. The third group, which we address with SurveyCircle, are people who simply want to experience current research projects and actively support them by participating.

How does SurveyCircle work?
SurveyCircle is based on the principle of mutual support. The platform is designed in a way, so that everyone has a natural incentive to support those Survey Managers, who have already supported many other Survey Managers. To make this principle work, we have developed a ranking system based on points. As Survey Manager, you can post the link to your study in our Survey Ranking. By participating in the studies of others you collect points that make your own study climb up in the ranking. The higher your study climbs, the more points others get when they participate. That means that the incentive for others to participate in your study becomes greater the higher your study is positioned in the ranking. Our system ensures that you are rewarded for your willingness to help: the more you support others in their research, the more people will participate in your study.

Why use SurveyCircle?
If you run an online survey, you should participate in SurveyCircle. This would benefit you because you can easily find additional participants – regardless of what survey provider you created your survey with. You will also benefit from a more heterogeneous sample. Another advantage of SurveyCircle is that you can collect the points for your ranking in the Survey Ranking long before you start your own survey, e.g. in the semester break before you write your thesis. As soon as you publish your survey, it will immediately be placed with a good position in the ranking and will therefore have a particularly good chance to receive many participants.

SurveyCircle, where will the path lead? Where will you be five years from now?
Our internet platform has only been live for a few months, so I do not want to speculate about the next 5 years. There are so many internal and external factors that can influence our path in the near future. Even if there are “future dreams” here and there, it is better to first and foremost deal with what is important in the near future. Which clearly includes making SurveyCircle more known and inspiring more people to partake in our idea. We have developed a good and novel platform, but currently only a small part of our target group knows that SurveyCircle exists. Currently, SurveyCircle is available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But there is a lot of potential in other countries, too.

Finally, what 3 tips would you give to start-ups?
1. Think your project through in detail before you make it a full-time job and invest a lot of money. In other words: Think about the potential users and if you can reach them with your available means. In addition, you should of course check whether there are already competitors with the same or a similar business model.
2. Consider whether you are willing to give up things for your start-up, for example, a regular salary and a clear separation between working days and weekend.
3. Do not let yourself be discouraged immediately, even if others should discourage your idea. Sometimes your conversation partners simply may not know enough about your concept and your target group to be able to really judge the chances of your business idea. My tip: Do talk to people who have experience in the field of start-ups, who are able to evaluate your idea as objectively as possible, not by just looking at their own needs, but by focusing on your target group.

More information you will find here

Thank you Jonas Johé for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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