“Market research” and “customer engagement” are terms that may conjure up images of focus-group meeting rooms and dinnertime robo-calls. A Sandy Springs startup aims to revolutionize the industry with an app that instantly pays vetted users to answer questions in real time via their cellphones.

In the 1Q system, companies cannot not only ask questions or offer surveys, but also ask for photos and videos, and target users based on their locations at the moment. Want to see where every user wearing a certain brand of sneakers is on a live map of metro Atlanta? Want to send a coupon to every user at the big game? Those creative uses and more are possible through the 1Q app. Meanwhile, every user who responds gets part of the $1-per-answer fee, either to their bank account or to their favorite charity. (Disclosure: The Reporter previously partnered with 1Q to conduct reader surveys on topical issues.)

After several years of development, 1Q says it has over 1 million users and is in a higher-profile phase. The Reporter asked CEO and founder Keith Rinzler about the startup. For more information, see 1Q.com.

Keith Rinzler, CEO and founder of 1Q.

Tell us about the app. How does it work? 

1Q is not simply a survey app.  It’s a revolutionary market research and customer engagement platform that is changing the way companies conduct consumer research and interact with customers. 1Q allows companies to engage with an audience in real-time based on who they are or where they are by sending questions, surveys, pictures, videos, polls or promotional offers to their mobile phones. Consumers love engaging with 1Q because we are the only company operating in the analytics and insights marketplace that pays consumers instantly per response.

We started building 1Q nearly six years ago, but we’ve really taken off in the past two to three years. We’ve experienced incredible growth, are being used on a regular basis by many of America’s largest companies, and have over 1 million consumers who have signed up to be paid instantly for their responses.

How did you come to be based here in Sandy Springs?

My family has been in the Atlanta area for five generations, so starting a business here made all the sense in the world. There’s so much talent in the Atlanta area, and it’s only growing year after year. Thanks to Georgia Tech and initiatives like the Georgia Research Alliance, It’s one of the best places to start a tech business anywhere in the country. As for Sandy Springs, it’s a terrific central location within the greater Atlanta area that’s easy to access for all of our team members.

What do you offer that other demographic companies don’t?

For starters, even compared to market research competitors that have strong demographic profiles of respondents, our platform is particularly targeted and precise. But we’ve been working on the 1Q platform for years, and every client has their own favorite feature. A number love our highly sophisticated geotargeting capabilities that let you zero in on customers who have visited their stores within a specific time period. Others appreciate our commitment to data quality and making sure there are no “bots” or professional survey takers on the platform who are more concerned with making money than answering truthfully. And then there are those who appreciate the radical simplicity and transparency of our platform — there’s clear pricing, no contracts, and literally anyone can use it to get answers to their questions by visiting 1Q.com.

The list goes on, including real-time responses that produce meaningful results in minutes instead of days, the ability to re-contact the same respondents to dig deeper on insights, and the ability to get feedback on video, audio, image and even get consumers to send you pictures. On the other hand, for people who answer questions, they love getting paid instantly for each question they answer and they have the option to donate the money they earn to charities. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

What types of businesses are using the service?

Our clients come in all shapes, sizes and sectors. They include Fortune 500 companies, market research organizations, advertising and marketing agencies, and management consulting firms. Just in the metro Atlanta area, companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, Ted’s Montana Grill, Bain and Kids2Grow use the 1Q platform. Unlike some competitors that force you to start at a very high price-point, we can scale up or down to solve a customer engagement and market research challenge. Our pricing is radically simple: $1 per response. Period.

We provide solutions both for companies that have a few hundred dollars and a few hundred thousand to spend on market research. We’ve had companies testing Super Bowl commercials, asking consumers to take pictures of store shelves to see product placement, and inquiring about straightforward questions like eating habits, how they invest money, or political opinions.

How is the pandemic affecting the survey business?

The market research industry has been challenged by the pandemic, particularly traditional market research companies that specialize in things like in-person focus groups. Obviously, gathering people in-person is a non-starter in the midst of a pandemic.

However, similar to how the pandemic has led many employers to become more reliant on digital communication tools like Zoom and Slack, marketers and consumer research specialists have sought out digital research tools like 1Q that can quickly deliver results anywhere and anytime. We nearly doubled our revenue in 2020 compared to 2019, and we had our highest revenue month ever in September 2020.

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