Deals

GeoPoll’s mobile surveys shine light into the dark world of the ‘unwebbed’

geopoll
Image Credit: GeoPoll Facebook

GeoPoll is figuring out what people are thinking, from Taiwan to Tanzania.

The company has raised $11.6 million for its mobile surveying technology, which lets organizations send out questions and get quickly get responses through text, voice call, or web-based surveys.

“There’s a huge need and opportunity for insights in the developing world,” President Steve Gutterman told VentureBeat. “These countries have dynamic economies, fast-growing GDPs, and can also be receiving large amounts of aid. Most importantly, they are poorly understood. Existing survey methodologies are inefficient and antiquated, or reliant on technologies that are inaccessible to large swaths of the population.”

75% of the world has access to mobile phones — far more than Internet access and landlines combined.  GeoPoll uses this connectivity for polling purposes. Gutterman said that the technology helps organizations get faster, more accurate and higher-value insights from populations that weren’t previously reachable.

GeoPoll works with telecom carriers and local groups on the ground, and claims to reach a combined network of 50 million people “on a targeted level.” The company expects to reach 100 million people by the end of 2013 and 500 million by the end of 2014.

“We recently completed 130,000 surveys in less than a month for the UN, reaching fifteen difficult-to-reach countries including Ghana, Madagascar and Tanzania,” Gutterman said.”We’re working with consumer goods companies, market research firms, financial services companies and organizations like the World Bank, USAID and the World Food Programme to deliver insights on an entirely new scale.”

GeoPoll’s technology targets users by their locations, pinpointing them based on the tower that they connect to most frequently. It integrates with existing billing systems so the company can add money to a user’s prepaid, postpaid, or mobile money accounts to incentivize participation.

Traditional market research is a challenge in developing countries. It can be slow, expensive, and inaccurate due to the physical, economic, and social conditions of the areas. The proliferation of mobile devices creates unprecedented opportunities for businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations to gather data from a wider and/or more targeted assortment of people.

GeoPoll emerged out of parent company Mobile Accord, which was founded in 2005. The first product was a mobile donation platform called mGive, which triggered the inspiration for GeoPoll, which is now active in 20 countries.

“Through our work with nonprofits, we found that organizations deliver billions of dollars each year in aid, yet lack the tools to track their effectiveness,” Gutterman said. “More generally, we saw that companies and organizations lack visibility into the developing world. We saw the mobile phone as the only real way to reach people and understand what’s going on in hard-to-reach populations.”

GeoPoll secured $6.6 million in new funding, bringing its total Series A round to $11.6 million.