One year ago, French startup Eyeka announced that it had raised €3 million ($4 million) to take its online alternative to the traditional focus group international. The company had raised €8 million to date and had already opened offices in Singapore. Last year, the 40-person company set-up shop in the UK and now it’s officially launching in the US, with offices in San Francisco and New York.
Eyeka was initially launched in 2006 by French serial entrepreneur, Gilles Babinet. The platfrom often gets compared to the likes of participative creative agencies (like Creads, who has also been eyeing the US market since last year) but is really more of a consumer engagement community. Big brands leverage the platform to crowd-source feedback from a community of over 130,000 creative consumers. It’s kind of like what Innocentive does for solving scientific problems. And unlike what one might expect, all consumers give their feedback for free; apparently it’s all done out of pure pleasure or even a desire to give back or be recognized by various brands.
According to Eyeka’s CEO, François Pétavy, this model is more efficient than the traditional focus group. Companies are able to solicit feedback and get 100-200 responses from people in 76 counties in roughly 2 to 3 weeks.
Obviously, Eyeka’s decision to launch in the US is anything but surprising. Aside from the fact that a handful of French companies make the leap every year, Eyeka also did a soft launch in the US last year. And the company is already working with Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Kraft. I guess it probably also helps that the US is home to 1/3 of the Global 500.