April 21, 2015
Describing his company, Rasto Ivanic would say that GroupSolver is a smart way for companies to do customer research. That is, they help businesses understand their customers deeper quickly and succinctly, much like his description of his company.
Alongside his team, Ivanic has been operating out of the EvoNexus incubator in San Diego, a fully subsidized nonprofit office space. Recently, they had a final check in with the EvoStart program, a part of the EvoNexus curriculum for certain startups, and got an eight month extension to continue building GroupSolver.
It’s been a fantastic experience for the team, being surrounding by mentors and other entrepreneurs going through a similar process of building. As Ivanic says, learning from the collective experience helps GroupSolver put the best version of their product to market.
GroupSolver was built on a quick, three step process. First, you ask a question to your audience – it could be students, businesses, or nonprofits. From there you describe your audience and GroupSolver takes the compiled data from responses to tell your audiences’ story.
We caught up with Ivanic to hear how EvoNexus has helped him grow his company and how they’re changing the face of surveys.
Tech Cocktail: Why did you choose to focus on market research with GroupSolver?
Rasto Ivanic: My brother and I, who’s also my cofounder, are both geeky with practical twists. What we both agreed was that the internet is awesome, but it’s only scratching the surface on how we use it.
Market research obviously isn’t very sexy, but the way we thought about it was that every company has to do it. That is, every company needs to understand their customers. Every potential client we talked to said it was frustrating for them to read through bunches of survey answers. In this day and age, when you have so much computing power and smart algorithms, we knew we could automate the process.
Think about things that require somebody to collect information, process it, and spit it out: it’s going to take time but there’s also a large area for human error. I used to work at a consulting firm and I would collect dozens of interviews before manually finding out the common themes in them. We thought: if you could automate that process and simply provide a tool to the company you’d save them money, time, and make product development cycles faster.
Tech Cocktail: How does GroupSolver smooth this process out?
Ivanic: When a company is developing, for example, an AI or machine learning processes they start by grabbing all that’s been said about it. That is, they’re working with a lot of data that’s 90 percent noise. Then they burden themselves with the processing of said data.
What they’re processing comes from human brains that are rational and wired to organize things. Essentially you’re relying on peoples’ rationality and brains for organization. The best way to start is to treat every data input as one unit of information. It’s important to us to make every input valuable and extremely flexible for the respondent to say as little or as much as they like.
Tech Cocktail: How do you make it easier for people to understand data sets?
Ivanic: At GroupSolver we cut down the noise from the beginning and focus on specific questions that matter, using each piece of information as a logical unit. It’s allowed us to work through the computational complications to understand what every word means. All we care about is that another human understands what it means and then recognize patterns in other peoples’ ideas before ultimately tracking them.
We also take a lot of crowdsourcing approaches because we don’t want people to have to go through 15, 20, or 30 questions. We wanted a system that can operate on the minimum amount of data.
We’re going to pick ideas and say those who talk about fresh food also talk about the environment. From there we pitch ideas, in effect trying to help our clients learn what kind of other ideas might be connected to the initial thoughts.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the philosophy behind GroupSolver?
Ivanic: GroupSolver is much more than just customer research. It’s important to us that every person has a voice, and no opinions are more valuable than others. GroupSolver is a meritocracy of ideas. It’s all about individual choice to build your own solution to a question that’s presented.
Every idea is required to be expressed in 140 characters or less. We don’t want people using unnecessary words like ‘like’ and ‘kind of’. Precise thoughts with a beginning and an end allow everybody else to read it quicker as well. The one thing you don’t want to do is produce a lot of noise: tell us what you want in a succinct way because it allows everybody else to be more efficient in their role.
Image Credit: Flickr/michael dornbierer
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