Nairobi-based startup mSurvey is transforming the way entrepreneurs do market research by leveraging mobile phone messaging technologies to extract previously unobtainable data from the growing community of cellphone users across the world.
CEO and founder of mSurvey Kenfield Griffith told Face2Face Africa that the technology is designed to disrupt the global research market by bringing high-quality, on-demand consumer data from hard-to-reach communities out of the shadows through mobile phone surveys.
“The problem mSurvey is solving is connecting the invisible consumer in emerging markets. It is giving businesses in these markets the ability to engage these consumers at scale all through agnostic mobile messaging,” Griffith said.
Griffith added that the startup is already transforming how businesses, entrepreneurs, governments, foundations, non-profits, health, and academic researchers carry out their daily operations by enabling them to make informed decisions.
Creating New Frontiers
By giving businesses and other organizations unprecedented access to high-integrity data from the emerging world, mSurvey allows them to relate with their target markets more effectively and identify societal needs and opportunities.
With the new technology, mSurvey can capture the voices of consumers on the streets – from the largest cities to the remotest villages – offering companies new and ripe business frontiers.
According to Griffith, the reaction to mSurvey has so far been extremely positive, with an average of a 60 percent response rate, which is three times higher than that of the traditional methods of market survey.
With the information available on the platform, companies are able to measure the impact of their investments on different communities and make the necessary adjustments.
“The response has been transformative, because before mSurvey, businesses and organizations tried to fill the dearth of data using pen and paper, person-on-the-street methods, or traditional survey tools that are expensive, time-consuming, subject to low response rates, and largely unreliable,” Griffith says.
Inspiration & Future
As a Ph.D student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Griffith researched how computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing could streamline automation and development when he started mSurvey in 2012.
At the institute, Griffith spent months experimenting with geometric models, computations, and algorithms, with the idea for mSurvey proving to be quite complex.
After dealing with several setbacks, Griffith decided to reinvent the way information informs decisions, solving a problem that he and most would-be entrepreneurs and businesses in emerging markets face: a lack of actionable, credible, and contextual data.
Instead of running the company in Boston, where he was educated, or the Caribbean, where he was raised, Griffith opted to establish mSurvey in the heart of his first target market: Nairobi, Kenya.
He put together a team of talented local personnel and fellow MIT alums with decades of combined experience in research, mobile telecommunications, and technology.
“In 2016, mSurvey closed its seed funding round led by investments from Safaricom [Kenya’s largest telecommunications company], Silicon Valley’s Cross Culture Ventures, and the Caribbean’s Alpha Angels (backed by the Virgin Group’s Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship),” Griffith says.
“This was alongside angel investors from Salesforce, the Abraaj Group, and others.”
The company is now open to partnerships with potential investors across the African continent and other emerging markets, such as the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia.
Learn more about mSurvey here: