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'We know that we can’t compete with Google in the general consumers’ market, so we are targeting and reaching out to enterprises through doing 2C,' says SurveyCake founder Alex Liu.
As more online survey tools pop up, one Taiwanese startup is looking to break into the market with a different approach — targeting enterprise clients.
“We could have been the first survey service that had a mobile web page version,” says Alex Liu (劉邦彥), founder of SurveyCake. “We know that we can’t compete with Google in the general consumers’ market, so we are targeting and reaching out to enterprises through doing 2C.”
The 30-year-old is also CEO of another startup, 25sprout, which creates websites and applications. 25sprout has been able to support the development of SurveyCake — its first product — and Liu is now considering separating the two startups. SurveyCake is also one of the startups showcasing in TechCrunch Disrupt NY this year.
The News Lens spoke with Liu to learn more about SurveyCake and its future plans.
The News Lens: What inspired SurveyCake?
Alex Liu: It was at the first seminar Amazon Web Services (AWS) held in Taiwan. A paper survey was handed out after the event, but there were no tables available in the space so everyone was filling out the survey on their crossed legs. You don’t really concentrate on answering the questions in this situation. That’s when the inspiration hit me. Why not combine surveys with mobile phones? There weren’t many mobile web pages available back then. Not even SurveyMonkey or Google Forms had mobile versions. So our team created a prototype in just two weeks.
TNL: How has SurveyCake developed since then?
Liu: SurveyCake was 25sprout’s first product. 25sprout is currently in its fifth year, and in the beginning, there were only two people working on it; now we have 25. SurveyCake’s public official launch was a year ago but we had started marketing the prototype three or four years back to enterprise clients. It was completely for B2B then, and starting early last year everyone could register for our service.
We currently have 6,000 registered users and receive an average of 100,000 responses each month.
TNL: To my understanding, there are currently other similar services available. What makes SurveyCake different?
Liu: First, we provide high security. Many enterprise clients are looking to build their own private cloud on their own server, and not share a cloud with others. We have a lot of financial company clients that can’t save personal information on a public cloud.
What’s more is we allow users to customize domain names. This is a feature human resource managers or seminars have found appealing.
Starting from this season, we are promoting a feature called, “What’s Next,” as in “what is the next step going to be” once you receive your feedback. In the past, the feedback you receive just becomes one piece of raw data out of the thousands of pieces but we are now setting different triggers to different answers. For example, in a restaurant survey, we can program it so if a customer selects “very unsatisfied,” a text will be sent to the restaurant manager informing him/her when and which table the customer was eating at.
This is also why we are focusing on enterprises; customizing and developing different features for enterprises is one of our advantages. Our enterprise service is currently only available in Taiwan but the public version can be found in both Chinese and English.
Right now, we are unable to manage overseas enterprise clients because we aren’t ready. There are too many factors we need to consider, and we are looking for partners in the U.S. to help out.
TNL: In addition to looking for partners, what other expectations do you have of TechCrunch Disrupt NY?
Liu: We have actually attended some shows and fairs in the past, but we were more focused on looking for partners that could help us market overseas or provide resources. This time at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, we also hope to meet more companies, from startups to enterprises, and we are possibly looking for our first round of funds. We are already pass the seed level, and our product is ready for marketing with some enterprises already using it. so we will probably be looking for our A round. Our goal will not be to develop a prototype or realize our concept but to accelerate our marketing speed which is currently too slow. We haven’t been advertising and our advertising budget is zero.
TNL: Who are your competitors?
Liu: SurveyMonkey also provides private clouds. Uniqlo, for example, uses their private cloud service. But it doesn’t allow users to customize domains. Other than SurveyMonkey, I don’t think we have a lot of competitors. Taiwanese corporations really buy into the customization service.
TNL: What are the challenges SurveyCake is seeing?
Liu: We are looking to expand overseas, probably starting from Hong Kong or Singapore. We did think about Silicon Valley or Europe, but the time difference and language are challenges. A lot of overseas companies have their Asia headquarters based in Hong Kong or Singapore, and those companies are the ones we want to sell our product to.
Because our service involves personal information, we need to have an office in any country we expand to so that the enterprises will trust us. This is why we are still focusing on running our model smoothly in Taiwan as a preliminary step. We have actually been pretty lucky because most of our enterprise clients in Taiwan are global businesses, and they are happy to recommend us to their Asia or global branches. But we need to be ready or else we will miss the opportunity.
TNL: What do you think the Taiwan government can do to help local startups more?
Liu: It could provide more subsidies for startups to exhibit in shows or fairs. Honestly, financial support still helps a lot. But if we are talking about consultants or mentors, I think Taiwan is still lacking in them, and the government can support professionals, like Taiwan Startup Stadium, to help out.
The News Lens was sponsored by Taiwan Startup Stadium to attend TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017.
Editor: Edward White