This Dartmouth Startup Publishes Surveys That You Will Actually Want To Take
Very rarely do we hear someone’s authentic opinion about a topic or share our own. It’s hard for individuals to put themselves out there and share thoughts that may rub against conventional wisdom, public opinion, or another’s beliefs. But everyone’s thoughts matter. The challenge is in actually pulling them out in a way that makes people feel safe, comfortable, and rewarded.
Born originally at Dartmouth, College Pulse is a transparent survey platform that gathers public opinions from community members with remarkable effectiveness. Founded by Terren Klein and Robin Jayaswal in November 2016, the startup is revolutionizing survey distribution and helping colleges all across the country really understand the thoughts and beliefs of their student populations.
“It Pays To Be Heard”
– College Pulse
College Pulse’s surveys are delivered through a platform that is accessible via desktop and mobile. Surveys cover a wide range of topics about campus life, from politics to Greek Life and sexuality. Response data is segmented according to participant demographics and then presented in a way that helps survey responders understand how different groups may feel about a particular subject matter.
Typically, survey engagement is relatively low on college campuses. College Pulse is solving this problem in several ways. First, the company uses a points-based system through which students can earn credits that can be cashed in at local business or restaurants. Additionally, the platform creates a level of transparency around public opinion that students seem to really appreciate. With much larger response sample sizes, students get a much more accurate depiction of how their peers think and feel. Thirdly, College Pulse allows students to post their own questions on the platform and poll their peers in an efficient and effective manner. Currently, the startup’s average response rate is around 40%, six times higher than alternative survey distribution platforms.
Opening Up The Opinion Floodgates
The initial idea for College Pulse came from Tuck student, Terren Klein, who saw that Dartmouth’s Office of Institutional Research was having trouble getting students to respond to surveys. Klein developed the concept for a survey distribution platform that would encourage much higher engagement through meaningful incentives and data transparency. Shortly after, College Pulse was formed and gained support from the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network and the Office of the President. Founder Klein was also given access to the DALI Lab which provided many of the tools and resources critical to building out the platform. With a team of software engineers, Klein was able to develop a user-friendly site and mobile application that could support thousands of users.
Recently, College Pulse participated in YCombinator and raised $1.35M in seed funding to facilitate expansion efforts. The startup is currently working with several strategic angel investors as well as Madrona and GSV Accelerate. The College Pulse platform is now available at 42 colleges and supports 15,000 daily users. Overall, the company has collected 25M survey responses and is planning to expand and license its platform to other types of organizations, such as businesses, interest-based groups, and local governments.
What Incentivizes Your Users?
This Untold Spotlight Initiative story reminds us to invest heavily in developing meaningful value propositions for customers and end users. College Pulse provides a tremendous example of a company that fully understood how to incentivize students to engage with its platform, relying both on a rewards system and the promise of enhanced transparency. Now, organizations all over the country want access to the platform so that they, too, can bolster engagement and better understand the thoughts and beliefs of their community members.
As an entrepreneur, it is so important that you understand what motivates your customers. If you don’t know right off the bat, take time to gather opinions and uncover what really moves people to action. Nailing down your value proposition and developing strong incentives for participation will help you build a loyal user base that will carry you through the early stages of your venture.
For those interested in learning more about College Pulse’s platform, visit the company’s website here.