Noah Seton has a background in political polling, but it was during his time in management consulting that he grew dissatisfied with consumer research tools that he calls “expensive, slow, and clunky.”
The problem, Seton said, was that there was no way to take a thin, quick slice of public opinion. Frequently, teams would run long, pricey surveys when they were really only interested in a few questions. He found himself wondering why there wasn’t a platform to quickly gather data on a few data points, and ultimately decided to create one, in the form of Boston-based startup PollBuzzer.
“We want to fill that gap by providing a way for those decision-makers to get those most important questions answered as quickly as possible, with reliable data that they can dig into and analyze, and then move on to incorporate that information into their ordinary course of business,” Seton said.
In all polling, sampling poses a challenge: Because PollBuzzer recruited using online referrals, for example, applicants (who are paid one dollar per answered question) tended to be younger. To cull statistically relevant results from just a question or two at a time, the site collects other demographic information on panelists, so that data can be assembled on a group representative of the general population or a specific subgroup.
Researchers use a wizard to create polling questions and multiple choice answers, and to tweak the type of respondents they want along demographic and socio-economic lines. If they want, they can pay extra for faster results, down to a one hour turnaround. If they like, they can also access the panel to make sure their results are representative.
Seton — who graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and magna cum laude from the same university’s undergrad program — joined up with Matt McLoughlin, formerly of peerVue, to realize the technical aspects.
“We offer statistically valid and robust results, blindingly fast,” Seton said. “We differentiate by providing our clients with custom panels – they can choose the exact target populations they are looking for – and letting them choose their turnaround times.”
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