Online survey startup Stickybeak has raised $550,000 in seed money at a $4m valuation.
The business, founded in June last year, has so far been run by its four founders, each working two days per week.
Now full-time staff are coming on deck. It's just hired a general manager, and is in the market for a head of development and someone to wrangle its presence on Facebook.
The new hires will join founders David Brain (the former Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa president and CEO of Edelman), David Talbot (chief executive of research firm UMR - best known for its polling work for Labour), designer Kyle Hickey (also involved with Parkable and Translate Digital) and Brody Nelson (co-founder of Parkable).
Brain says Stickybeak's aim is to allow clients to commission quantitative public surveys from their desktop, rather than through an agency.
The Auckland-based startup operates globally and bills itself as half the price of standard agency pricing. It says a survey of 600 Kiwis, for example, will cost US$3000 through its system vs up to US$10,000 through an agency.
Stickybeak uses Facebook Ad Manager to recruit target respondents in a required demographic and location; the chance of winning $200 to incentivise them; and short, "conversational" surveys "which look like Messenger or Whatsapp" to draw answers.
The startup restricts clients to 12 questions, and encourages fewer. People zone out when faced with pages of questions with more traditional research models, Brain says.
Some marquee clients are buying his reasoning.
Spark, Vodafone NZ, UK telco O2 and Sky-owned RugbyPass have all used Stickybeak.
Its largest current customer is the multinational Dole, which is using Stickybeak for package and brand testing across have a dozen countries.
It's still very early days. Revenue so far has been around the $250,000 mark. How big does Brain want to get? He's loath to give a number, but notes that the global quantitative research market is worth some $48 billion per year, with many still using traditional methods like phones, or taking a clipboard door-to-door.
He says the startup has no direct competition.
What's to stop someone tapping Facebook Ad Manager themselves at much lower cost, then using, say, a free tool like Survey Monkey?
"Nothing," says Brain. "But there's an art to using Facebook, and maximising its effectiveness, as we've discovered over the past 15 months."
Previously, Stickybeak has been bootstrapped.
"For our first round of funding we wanted to bring on investors that could bring skills, expertise and contacts", Brain says.
Investors in the seed or "bridging" round include Sacha Judd and Rowan Simpson from the Hoku Group; Tasti MD Josette Prince; Iain and Carly Twine - the Singapore-based founders of consultancy firm Harrup Advisory; and (whisper it) Crosby Textor alumnus Nicholas Wright.
Anchor shareholder UMR remains the largest investor with its 21 per cent holding.