There’s an enormous market in Africa, projected to reach 1.7 billion consumers by 2030. Unfortunately, African businesses don’t take full advantage of that buying potential. This is largely due to the lack of quality market research, and a heavy dependence on the physical approach to data collection involving heavy footwork.
Most of Africa’s population live in rural areas with no internet access, making reaching them a challenge. For qualitative market research, local infrastructure alone can no longer suffice.
This is where innovative market research companies like Survey54 come in. By introducing multiple data collection methods, Survey54 bridges the labor-intensive gap in conducting market research and enables audiences to respond more easily, faster, and efficiently. Marketing teams and researchers can create, track, and analyze surveys on the company’s platform.
TechCabal spoke to the CEO and Co-founder of Survey54, Stephan Eyeson, and he shared more on how they’re making market research data accessible to startups and entrepreneurs.
“The main problem we’re solving is the ease of consumer research. At the moment, most companies that conduct consumer research across the continent are large companies such as IPSOS and Nielsen, and the issue with these companies is that they are expensive and inefficient. Most of the surveys are done on foot using either an iPad or pen and paper,” he said.
During our chat, Stephan also spoke about Survey54’s people, products, operations, and key lessons that have shaped his journey as a technopreneur.
Q: Tell us about Survey54 and what makes your brand unique.
Stephan Eyeson: We allow companies that want to understand the African consumer to do so through our platform. Companies can log on, create questions, pick their audience across the continent and then launch their survey to see results in real-time. This helps companies understand their African consumers and make data-driven decisions for their companies or even as individuals. We have companies using our platform from startups to larger companies, NGOs, and governments as well.
Q: What led to the vision/idea for Survey54?
Stephan: It started with a company called Survey Monkey in the States. I saw the way surveys were conducted in Europe and the West, the gaps, and how easy it was to fill them. But when it came to parts of Africa outside of South Africa and North Africa, it was quite difficult to do the same. I saw the gap there and I started attending a lot of African conferences because I was interested in the continent, is a Ghanaian. I met a lot of people who agreed that there is a lack of data and information on the continent, which led us to start looking into consumers in Africa, how we can become more viable, and if we could create a platform that makes it easier to reach them and understand them.
Q: Briefly describe Survey54’s major products
Stephan Eyeson: There are a few products that we have. The first product is our self-serve product. The platform allows you to log in as an individual, create questions and pick your audience for the survey. For example, 18-35-year-old males or females living in Abuja, Accra or Joburg. You can then launch the survey on the platform and then start receiving results. Our second product is trackers, which allows you to track consumers long-term on a regular basis.
Q: How would you say the response to your products has been from businesses?
Stephan: We have had good responses from large companies, and we have started approaching start-ups now. We’ve had phenomenal responses from African startups that want to expand without spending money to do the ground research in a new country. We also have great responses from large companies who use our platform to do agile research.
Q: How does Survey54 compare to existing competitors?
Stephan: As I said before, our major competitors are the large companies using offline methods to run surveys in different countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. We’re more technology-focused, using the internet and machine learning to understand forward-looking trends and compare them to what other companies are doing.
Q: In this era of data privacy, how do you ensure that user information is secure?
Stephan: We operate under the GDPR, and we never give out customer information from survey results without their consent. Also, we confirm at the end of every survey that the customer is willing to give us their information.
Q: What is one thing you have had to overcome to scale the company?
Stephan Eyeson: One of the challenges is scaling in different African markets. We had to avoid the trap of stretching ourselves too thin, setting up in different places. We have had to work with partners instead of trying to do everything ourselves.
Q: What would you say is Survey54’s company culture?
Stephan: The company culture we’re trying to build is based on taking initiatives and owning your domain within the company. We give freedom to people to build on their own within the company, try new ideas and learn from their mistakes.
Q: What does “success” mean at survey54?
Stephan: I think internally it’s about people knowing that Survey54 is a place where they can grow, and externally it would be becoming the brand name people think about when it comes to understanding consumers in Africa.
Q: How do you navigate a fully remote team with talents located in different parts of the world?
Stephan: I think one very important thing is constant communication. The use of remote comms tools like Slack and Trello have been very key to staying in touch. We also have one-on-one meetings weekly, and team members in the same city meet up from time to time. We measure up by setting and measuring goals for team members and giving them the lead on how to reach those goals.
Q: What are some long-term plans for the brand?
Stephan: One of our biggest goals is to build the largest consumer data library across the African continent and in other emerging markets. Secondly, expanding outside Africa to the western market and bringing them onto the platform. That way African consumers can be understood by marketing teams in the West as well, as they start to have bigger spending power.
Q: Getting more personal, what do you wish you knew before you started?
Stephan: I would say I wish I knew more about the customers’ needs before we started, we could have tailored our earlier products to meet those needs better.
Q: What have you learned so far about running a startup?
Stephan: As a founder, you cannot handle everything on your own. It’s important to outsource to talented people that know what they are doing in terms of tasks, finance, marketing, customer acquisition, etc.
Q: What advice would you give to prospective startup entrepreneurs?
Stephan: My advice would be to do a lot of market research and test out your proposition with the worst possible scenarios before you start. We have continued to do that ourselves.