colored ketchuo

Booze-flavored toothpaste, lawn darts, and funky colored ketchup may initially have seemed like good ideas, but these ultimately proved to be epic product fails.

Gutcheck has raised $4 million to helps brands prevent these types of disasters. Gutcheck is a on-demand market research community where companies can quickly get answers to their “burning questions.”

Before a business spends millions of dollars developing and distributing a new product, it’s important to test consumer waters and confirm that actual demand is there. Traditional market research can be an expensive and time-consuming process. The Harvard Business Review conducted a study last year which found that a vast majority of Fortune 1,000 companies are not depending on data to make customer-related decisions and are still relying on intuition. In today’s business environment, this is not the most reliable or accurate approach but the current process for market research can’t keep up with the fast-moving pace.

Gutcheck’s platform to makes the process more efficient by allowing brands to assemble specific groups of customers on-demand to provide insights.

The startup said that brands can find their target consumers in an average of 2.3 minutes, as opposed to days or weeks, and get feedback in within 72 hours. Clients select their demographic and geographic requirements, enter customer question criteria, and then conduct interviews with consumers on the platform. It is a quick way to figure out whether their target audience likes what they are creating. No more yogurt shampoo fiascoes. The system can also be used to find out which marketing campaign will be most effective .

GroTech Ventures and Crawley Ventures led this round, along with participation from existing investors Highway 12 Ventures and Village Ventures. The company is on track to triple sales in 2013 and will use this financing to support growth. Clients include big brands like Subway, The Home Depot, KFC, P&G, Hallmakr, Symantec, General Mills, Nestle, Kaiser, Pfizer, Intel, PepsiCo,, MillerCoors, and Coleman.

Just yesterday, a competitive startup called Atizo was named a winner at the Plug and Play Expo in Sunnyvale, Calif. Crowdtap is also a well-known rival. Gutcheck isn’t the only one taking on this problem, but it does have traction with big clients. It is based in Boulder, Colo.

And for the record, I was a huge fan of purple ketchup.

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