ValidateIt brings market research to the masses

Fresh Intelligence founder says new venture can make DIY consumer surveys scientific

Corrine Sandler, founder and CEO of the Toronto research outfit Fresh Intelligence, is stepping down to take the reins full-time at ValidateIt, a new startup that aims to democratize consumer research.

Built on the back of Google Surveys (Google’s 3-million strong global consumer panel), ValidateIt offers a range of turnkey solutions where clients can ask basic research questions and receive verified, methodologically sound responses within 24 hours. It also offers a more custom tier of service, where clients can build sub-samples within the Google Surveys panel (iPhone users or pet owners, for example) and return to them with regular survey results.

“I’ve been in market research for many years, and it’s one industry that has not kept up with technology,” Sandler said.

“As an entrepreneur and as a marketer, if you wanted to do research, you only had two choices. You could either do it yourself through the Survey Monkeys of the world, or two you could go and hire a large consulting company like Fresh Intelligence or Ipsos. There was absolutely nothing in between,” she said.

“I wanted to combine the consulting brilliance of sound, robust statistical research with a self-serve platform, so great research is now accessible.”

Having operated under-the-radar for the past 6 months, ValidateIt has already acquired a major Canadian financial institution as a repeat client, as well as a U.S. tech company. Although ValidateIt is no replacement for full-scale, custom-designed market research, those businesses are using it to make consumer research a more frequent and central part of their decision-making.

The company’s six basic solutions currently available cover questions like whether a product is priced appropriately for what consumers are willing to pay, whether there’s demand for a new product or concept, and the level of purchase interest consumers have in an existing product. The survey models the company uses are well-established, having been developed and used in traditional market research by experts at Fresh Intelligence.

If they opt for the more involved service level, clients can also build their own panels by using profiling surveys to target highly specialized consumer groups. Out of the 3 million global consumers and 700,000 Canadians on Google’s panel, Sandler said the profiles usually return 10,000-20,000 participants. And once the tagging is done, it can be used to survey and comparatively analyze any national market, without incremental cost.

ValidateIt is still a small team of five based in Toronto, but Sandler said it’s hiring aggressively. Within the next three months, its services will be available in 42 countries.

Joshua Cormie, who has been with Fresh Intelligence for four years as senior vice-president, will take over from Sandler as CEO. Sandler will remain involved in the company and chair of its advisory board.

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