OpinionX: A new market research tool to find valuable opinions

21 Dec 2020

Darragh O’Flaherty and Daniel Kyne. Image: OpinionX

Young entrepreneur Daniel Kyne is leading a new start-up with a tool to give smaller firms access to valuable mass market research.

Daniel Kyne has quite the CV for someone in their early twenties. A founding member of the Digital Youth Council back in 2014, he has held roles with Dublin Tech Summit and Unilever alongside almost five years as a community organiser with the Techstars seed accelerator, bringing him to Startup Weekend events across Europe.

In 2017, aged just 19, he appeared on the Sunday Business Post 30 Under 30 list and, the same year, was selected to join the Dublin Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers, which led to his participation in this year’s Global Shapers Summit.

Now, his attention has turned to the start-up he has co-founded with Darragh O’Flaherty, OpinionX. Kyne has taken the helm as CEO while his co-founder serves as CTO. O’Flaherty previously interned as a software engineer at mobile network specialists Cellusys and worked as a product engineer for GiveBack.ie.

‘I often see people at the early stages of the start-up journey focusing too much on building an attractive offering for investors’

OpinionX seeks to assist with qualitative survey-based research by helping analysts to find the most salient points with the help of the respondents.

“At the moment, discovery research at scale typically means asking open-ended survey questions, resulting in messy and time-consuming work manually analysing statements in a big spreadsheet,” Kyne explained. “OpinionX solves this problem by letting survey respondents vote on each other’s opinions so that the statements that matter most can surface to the top without the analysis hassle.”

According to Statista, global revenue of the market research industry reached more than $73bn in 2019. In terms of quantitative research, about four-fifths is performed via online surveys, with online quantitative research generating as much as 17pc of this revenue.

As Kyne sees it, market share for online surveys has grown over the past decade thanks to the tools available to carry out this research at a low cost.

“OpinionX enables qualitative research at scale, blending the traditional worlds of qualitative and quantitative research. The survey tool captures rich user-generated opinions and perspectives as well as statistics for deeper analysis and easier decision-making,” he said.

Thanks to the built-in ability for participants to vote on each other’s statements, Kyne believes the platform can reveal “hidden consensus and division that lies behind the opinions”.

“Traditionally, surveys look at the topics that were submitted most to figure out what’s most important to respondents. OpinionX takes a needle-in-the-haystack approach, finding the one opinion that best represents everyone regardless of how much noise is around it,” he explained.

The team sees this an opportunity for small brands without the big budgets of mega marketing teams to perform mass market research.

“Qual-at-scale research is an expensive method that’s reserved for the biggest brands with the deepest pockets. OpinionX is democratising an emerging method of research for mass market use, helping start-ups to have the power of a bespoke market research agency in their pocket,” Kyne said.

Learnings from the first year

This summer, the start-up focused on customer pilots, which saw more than 50,000 votes cast by respondents on the platform. By October, the team had a self-service OpinionX platform ready for public use.

“We’re moving from validating our initial concept to customer acquisition, with a focus on product managers in B2C companies,” said Kyne.

Next year, the plan is to raise seed funding by summertime in order to accelerate customer acquisition and expand the team. The company previously raised €130,000 in pre-seed funding from NDRC and Enterprise Ireland and the team has already doubled in size to kick off its initial go-to-market strategy.

‘The emergence of sector-specific regions, such as the cybersecurity start-up success stories coming out of Cork, is an exciting sign of our ecosystem maturing’

One of the biggest challenges in the early days has been making the platform accessible for first-time users. “As an innovative new approach to research, we had to take a few steps back early on to make the platform easier to use. It felt very intuitive to us but it was very new for customers,” said Kyne.

“Working on individual pilots helped us walk our first customers through the research process on OpinionX and see for ourselves the moment that it all clicked for them and they saw the potential of our survey tool for discovery research. Watching people realise this helped us to craft the experience so that people get to that moment of clarity easier and without our hands-on help.”

This focus on perfecting the product for users is important to Kyne. “I often see people at the early stages of the start-up journey focusing too much on building an attractive offering for investors. One of my biggest learnings from the first year of OpinionX is that focusing on customer discovery and your first pilots will yield much greater returns than writing 10 applications for start-up competitions this month.”

As a Dublin-based start-up leader, Kyne is encouraged by seeing Irish-founded emigrants to Silicon Valley such as Inscribe and Quorum returning to the capital. “Multinationals and increased funding supports have injected so much talent into our main hubs. The emergence of sector-specific regions, such as the cybersecurity start-up success stories coming out of Cork recently, is also an exciting sign of our ecosystem maturing. There’s a real recipe for start-up success here in Ireland,” he said.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.