5/9/2019 0 Comments
As a tech startup mentor, I recommend tech, resources, and tools to startups to support them in building their businesses.
For this reason, I was excited to interview StJohn Deakins, who is the Founder and CEO at CitizenMe, a product that helps brands to connect and engage with their audiences through their web and native mobile apps. I believe there's a huge amount of potential for startups to use tools like this to help validate their ideas and increase the amount of quality information available to aid decision making.
Is that idea hot, or not? Are you picking the best possible features for your MVP? The answers to these questions need quality external input to make sure that your assumptions are correct, and that you're steering your product (and business) in the right direction.
I have a market research background, and used to interview MPs, journalists, corporates, and SMEs, as well as running focus groups with members of the public. In this post, I'll be drawing on expert insights from CitizenMe!
Thanks Kay, it’s great to speak with you!
What exactly does CitizenMe do?
In a nutshell, CitizenMe is working to empower individuals and organisations with data to create a sustainable digital future.
We believe that data has immense potential to help us all perform better, both in business and our lives. To enable this, we built a two-sided personal data marketplace consisting of a Citizen (consumer) facing mobile application (iOS and Android) acting as a distributed data store, and a customer web interface where clients (companies, health researchers and other organisations) can request data globally.
This all happens in a fair and secure way which brings value to everyone involved.
What are the key problems that your product solves?
Data has immense value for us all because it can uncover deep insights into behaviours, preferences, trends and more.
However, the data exchange industry as it exists now is highly flawed.
Data is being bought, sold and resold without individuals’ consent, awareness or participation. This is not just ethically wrong but also impacts the many organisations around the world who depend on this low quality data being sold to them to make important business decisions. Additionally, the benefits of deep data insights, both at a professional as well as individual level, are currently only accessible to a marginal group of large corporations.
CitizenMe wants to solve these challenges. Our Citizen-facing app empowers individuals to better understand, control and benefit from their own data. This in turn improves the quality and accuracy of the data that our clients can request. And on both fronts, we make gathering data insights more accessible and affordable to all.
Can you provide a few practical examples of how your tool is used by businesses?
Sure! We’ve worked on a range of projects for different types of clients. For example, a small London-based health food company used our platform to carry out some concept testing for new packaging. We provided some support with the questionnaire, it then got published to a custom audience of Londoners and our client saw results coming in within the hour.
Another example would be the advertising agency, OMD who integrated psychometrics, smartphone and app usage data and social media activity, to better define and understand audience profiles. Using this combination of survey data and digital behavioural data available on our platform, they were able to unlock new insights about their client’s audiences, defined around customer interests and digital behaviours.
Those are really meaningful insights, but that's also super fast - data on-tap!
Which scenarios do you think best suit your product?
Our self-service exchange platform is very versatile so it suits many different scenarios. For instance, an SMB / SME looking to do accurate, in the moment concept testing would find our platform ideal. The same is true for a large multinational looking to run cross-country opinion research on a new product concept.
CitizenMe's Exchange platform
Can your app be used for A / B testing? How would that work?
Absolutely! Just set up a survey in your CitizenMe account, selecting the audience that you wish to target. Duplicate the survey and amend the item to be tested and launch both surveys at the same time. I’d recommend trying the “Concept question” function if you also want to show images or videos.
Excellent! Thanks for explaining how to get that done.
The way that questions are posed during customer interviews is important to avoid introducing bias, which can lead to founders gathering inaccurate results, or drawing the wrong conclusions from the data they collect.
What would you say are the biggest mistakes made by companies trying to conduct research, and gather data for their businesses?
For me, having a well defined brief is the most important aspect of any research project. If you don’t know for certain why you are conducting research, it becomes really difficult to design a well thought out research project and to ensure you are obtaining the data that will help you to understand your research problem. We’re very happy to assist clients in defining the ‘why’ on a project to ensure we deliver the right answers.
When it comes to bias, it’s really important to ensure there is a balance. Not just for data quality, but also for the experience of the participants.
If you’re concerned about being given the reigns on a research project, reach out to us. We provide research best practice workshops and drop-in sessions packed with questionnaire design tips. Not only that, we also have a professional services team who are happy to help at any stage of the project.
That's great - really useful and will give businesses the confidence that they done things the right way, and haven't made any fundamental mistakes!
Do you have any killer tips on research best practice, and for succeeding with your platform?
Yes! Book a research best practice workshop or drop-in session with us.
Other than that, it’s all about having that well-defined brief and working from there.
A brief can be anything from an internal plan (if using self-service), an email to a market research agency or an official document… but there are always important factors to consider, for example the:
End goal – why are you planning to conduct market research?
Timings – when do you need to deliver on the results of the research?
Cost – what is your budget?
Sample – who do you need to speak to?
Data – what information do you need to know?
Can you tell us more about the support with question design and planning that you offer? How does this work?
Our Exchange platform is built to be self service, but we offer a range of services ranging from basic support to consulting, access to an expert research network and full services. We can cover reporting, translations, writing up survey questions, reviewing surveys, inputting the information onto the platform on your behalf and more. You can also check our our guides that provide helpful tips on how to conduct different aspects of research.
What is THE coolest feature that customers gain access to when they use your product?
Being able to gather deep insights, in real time. When we do live demos, the speed at which we get the deep psychographic data on top of the replies to more traditional questions, is what gets people’s jaws dropping!
We also have a very exciting self-service A.I. analytics feature being developed that will enable you to analyse different clusters and trends in your data to a whole new level… It’s coming out soon so let us know if you’re interested, we’d love to give you a sneak peak!
Yes, please - I'll look forward to having a preview!
What's the best way for people to get in touch with you StJohn?
Simply drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up free of charge to the client CitizenMe Exchange platform to start having a look around. You can also download our app for personal use.
Thanks StJohn, it’s been a pleasure.
Kay Kukoyi (K.N. Kukoyi CSM FITOL).
I design and run specialist workshops and programmes which simplify the process of starting and running a tech startup business.
I do this mainly for the non-technical founders of tech startup businesses, and of all the workshops I run, the one on working with developers gets the most extreme reaction. On several occasions I've seen both men and women shaking with laughter in their chairs, and even (very literally) crying with laughter.
Well, when I go through all the horror scenarios, common mistakes, and things that go wrong during the hiring, and build processes, people identify with the stories of woe because they've been caught by the same pitfalls themselves. (Sadly, it's not because I missed my calling as a standup comedienne!)
Whilst I'm glad they see they funny side when they reflect on their experiences, I'm on a mission to catch people before they experience these "tech startup dramas."
The CTO blues are "a thing". They are a common phenomenon - so common I came up with a name and a song about them(!), yet for each entrepreneur who gets into trouble in this area, it will feel like a unique and lonely experience, and despite entrepreneurs' laughter, the CTO blues are not funny at all.
So what are these CTO blues? This is a term I use to describe a scenario where founders are experiencing difficulties with their CTO or developer.
Sometimes things get serious - screaming matches and stress related illnesses caused by breakdowns in developer-entrepreneur relationships are not uncommon, and neither are lost investors due to delays.
Tech can be complex, as can working with other people, especially when you don't speak "tech" and haven't managed a technical project or technical people before. Don't wing it - come along to the workshop BEFORE you get burned, rather than seeking help after you have a negative experience!
The next How to Hire a Developer & Manage a Technical Team workshop is on Wednesday, 11th September at 6 p.m. and there are just a few spots left.
We'll take a deep dive into hiring, and managing your tech team - there will be lots of discussion, you're free to ask me anything you like, and you'll come away with a rich picture of the dos and don'ts, and a structure you can use to move forward.
Make sure you set yourself up for success, and avoid painful misadventures as the CEO and founder of a tech driven business.
Book your ticket on Eventbrite here: http://bit.ly/hire-manage-developers, or send us a message if you have any questions!
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