Startup Watch: Mobile Polling App 'Thumb' Opens Doors to Brands and Researchers

With Advice from Top Digital Marketers, Thumb Goes Pro

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Thumb is a mobile polling app that first hit the scene in July 2010 with a simple, valuable premise – for users to submit 'yes or no' questions and get near-instant feedback from fellow members of the startup's active community. Not sure which sunglasses go best with that outfit? Ask Thumb – just snap a photo, post it with your question, and within seconds you'll have an answer.

Over the last two and a half years, the app's team has been slowly, methodically, growing the platform, focusing primarily on the user experience. But now the service boasts a base of approximately 1.5 million users, almost double what it was when I first met with CEO Dan Kurani in August of 2012, which means the platform finally ready for an upgrade.

Earlier this week the startup launched Thumb pro, a premium offering for brands, agencies, and market research firms to tap into community for the same type of concentrated, instant feedback.

Before launching the service, the startup tapped a group of advisors known for spotting useful emerging technologies for brands, including L'Oreal VP-digital strategy Rachel Weiss, 360i VP-emerging media, David Berkowitz, Rockfish Interactive CMO Dave Knox, and PepsiCo director of digital Ashwin Nathan. All have been testing out the new product.

The product's value is as clear and simple as the consumer facing aspect – instant feedback from mobile focus groups. Be it for creative work, ad copy, design and aesthetics, or even product pricing, the idea is to give marketers, agency execs, and market researchers a tool to gauge public sentiment without any fuss, just set your parameters and post.

"Thumb Pro is a great resource to get authentic feedback almost instantly on stuff like ad copy, packaging and creative," said Knox said.

Most of the interaction is binary by design; a user weighs in via thumbs up or thumbs down. And though questions can be posted with open ended facets, only about 22% of responsive include commentary or qualitative remarks.

"Real-time customer feedback is something brands are always seeking. Being able to mine opinions versus interest provides brands a new valuable tool to quickly gather customer insights," said Weiss.

The polling tool will work on a tiered, freemium model, ranging from a free consumer product with limited responses and no targeting or filtering, to a paid pro service that allows up to 1,000 responses per question, and an array of features, like targeting by user demographic and advanced post-fact filtering by sentiment, age, and gender.

According to Harris, one eventual goal is to build in the capability to track change in consumer sentiment over time.

The New York City-based startup and has raised total of $6 million, with Bluerun Ventures and Softbank Capital as the lead investors.

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