Methinks, the startup behind a global video-based market research platform, has raised $7 million in funding.

The company created the platform for self-serve qualitative market research as part of its vision to transform the way customer insights are injected into business decision-making.

The software-as-a-service (Saas) platform was designed by former game executives Philip Yun and Wilson Li. Sema Translink led the investment, with participation from KB Investment and Hyundai Investment. The company will use the money to fund its global expansion and product development as it helps companies gather insights to better serve their customers and grow their business around the world.

“We invested in Methinks for two main reasons: Everyone understands the pain and cost of gathering invaluable customer insights and Philip Yun and Wilson Li are experts at creating winning technologies,” said Bumsoo Kim, managing partner of Sema Translink, in a statement. “The combination of developing a solution to a long-time business problem and finding founders with this kind of credibility is key to building winning solutions now and tomorrow. We believe Methinks can make a big impact on the multi-trillion-dollar R&D industry.”

Yun said in an interview with VentureBeat that the founders came upon the solution through trial and error. In their previous game company, Xoo, they tried to predict what players might like. But they relied on intuition, rather than qualitative market research. They developed a software platform to help get valid reactions from users, and it turned out that became a better product to pursue.

“We found out that we had a lot of assumptions that consumers would like our games, and it turns out they didn’t really like them,” Yun said. “By the third game, we said we had to verify our concept and ideas before going out and putting a lot of engineering resources on it. We looked for solutions and made our own platform.”

He added, “You could have coffee with a user, but the logistics take so much time it doesn’t make sense for a startup. And other research platforms are very expensive. So we had the idea of coming up with people [to interview] based on what kind of apps or games they are using on their phones every day. We identify them, connect to them, and, with their permission, do a video chat with them. We show them our prototypes and watch how they use them.”

Yun and Li worked at companies such as WeMade, OutSpark, Sony, Line, and NHN. Their new business is based in Seoul, South Korea and Mountain View, California.

Established in 2016, Methinks can now provide its customers access to a pool of 350,000 “Thinkers” who are ready to share insights and opinions. Those Thinkers can evaluate new products and give feedback in the form of video calls or through direct detection of how they use a product — such as detecting where the user is touching a mobile screen.

Among the many high-profile companies using Methinks are researchers and product managers from Samsung, LG, Verizon, Machine Zone, and Hyundai, to name just a few.

“We like to think of Methinks as the research industry’s best kept secret. It’s time everyone knows who we are,” said Li, who serves as head of systems development, in a statement.

The Methinks difference

Methinks is a market research platform.

Above: Methinks is a market research platform.

Image Credit: Methinks

Methinks helps any company target, find, and interview customers and prospects via face-to-face video calls. These efficient, cost-effective conversations are moderated, recorded, transcribed, annotated, and easily edited and shared for rapid organizational learning.

The SaaS-based platform allows researchers to conduct live interviews, qualitative surveys, and longitudinal studies, enabling insights ranging from basic product usability to the kind of nuanced understanding of personal product usage that is only discoverable through longer-term research efforts.

Any Methinks user can schedule and record interviews instantly, take notes, bookmark consumer insights, and more. All the videos are time-stamped and stored in the cloud for easy access, editing, and sharing, and interviews are automatically transcribed for later use.

Methinks found early success servicing global business conglomerates, bringing U.S. consumers to international giants in consumer electronics, auto, games, software, and media. More recently, the company has been repeatedly engaged by U.S.-focused businesses, particularly those in early stages of R&D.

Thinker Marketplace

Methinks is always hiring. With 350,000 prescreened Thinkers, roughly 80% of whom are based in the US., customer insights are available on-demand. Methinks provides filters to help researchers identify their target demographic, triggering instant responses from a pool of appropriate candidates who share availability for interviews.

The Thinker Marketplace also provides an opportunity for consumers of all ages and backgrounds to get paid for their thoughts on businesses, products, concepts, and ideas. You can learn about becoming a Methinks Thinker by visiting here.

Availability and pricing

Methinks is available now and starts at $89 per interview. The company offers a pay-as-you-go model so researchers can pivot or expand as their needs shift. Researchers can also provide their own Thinkers and further reduce their costs by paying a low platform fee.

Customers in large enterprises — or customers who need project-based research — can tap into Methink’s suite of research capabilities, including professional moderation, analysis, and presentation development.

Methinks has about 15 employees in the U.S. and 17 in South Korea. Rivals include Thomson Reuters and Survey Monkey.

“We don’t have a lot of competitors who are actually doing the exact same thing, which is qualitative research, face-to-face interviews with customers and users,” Yun said. “We actually created this very integrated platform, starting from the user recruiting [to] scheduling, recording, [and] video interview recording, all in one platform. It provides a lean and agile process so researchers can quickly get their feedback.”

Sign up for Funding Daily: Get the latest news in your inbox every weekday.