Making It Work: Bounce aims for a bigger prize with small rewards

Tech firm Bounce Insights’ founders realised quickly that consumers have to be incentivised in order to engage

Rónán Dowling-Cullen, Brian O'Mahony and Charlie Butler, co-founders of Bounce Insights which has opened a seed round. Picture: Guy Boggan

Just two years after co-founding Bounce Insights while studying business at Trinity College Dublin, Charlie Butler is making plans to move from Dublin to the US to drive sales for the research technology start-up.

The 23-year-old from Rathmines is chief operations officer at the data company he set up with four other Trinity graduates.

The start-up recently opened a seed funding round. Enterprise Ireland has already committed €250,000 to the pot and the Bounce team plans to raise a further €300,000 to €500,000 from private investors.

The company took pre-seed funding of €150,000 last year, and Butler is eager to have the seed round closed by June 1 before relocating later in the year to the US where the market for consumer research technology is hotting up.

“This whole area has reached a tipping point, but we’re up against these really big consumer insight marketplaces like Cint in Sweden, which has just gone public, Lucid in the US, and FocusVision, which has just made a big acquisition,” Butler said.

“Most of the activity is in the US and one of our lead investors is based there. It makes sense for me to relocate as soon as possible.

Bounce Insights has developed mobile technology that crowd-sources market research data at speed by engaging with consumers through a smartphone app.

“We started the business in January 2019 and, in our first 18 months, we built a self-service SaaS [Software as a Service] platform companies could use to create surveys, select their target consumer audience and receive a customised report, all in the same day,” Butler said.

“We knew that the email surveys these companies were using for market research had a really low uptake. They took too long to complete and really didn’t interest people but, more than that, the incentives they offered were dire.”

In response, the Bounce Insights team built gamification into their app, designed to keep consumers entertained and engaged.

“We realised pretty early that rewards really mattered as well, and we give people small rewards straight away. All are between 50 cent and €5, and they are for things like Deliveroo, JustEat and Revolut,” Butler said.

“We have partnerships with coffee shops all over Ireland, or you can choose to donate instead to a charity like Pieta House. It’s all based on the idea that, as soon as you open the push notification and give your opinion, you are instantly rewarded, so you’re hooked into coming back for more.”

Rather than trying to sign up millions of new users in overseas markets themselves, the Bounce team have instead decided to license their technology under white-label agreements with research companies already in the business of selling consumer data.

“I think we all realised pretty quickly that getting into the research business ourselves would be too much too soon, that we just wouldn’t have the resources to scale globally that way,” Butler said.

“We still have our community SaaS platform here in Ireland, which brands can use to reach consumers on our mobile app. That’s how we’ve been able to test and validate our technology, but all of our growth outside Ireland will be based on license agreements.”

Butler said Bounce had already signed three such agreements with research agencies in Britain, Europe and the US.

“We’re targeting some of the biggest research companies in these markets with existing research panels of between 10,000 and 500,000 people,” Butler said.

“As a young team with a low capital raise, we know we need to be very clever and put a lot of strategic partnerships in place to grow quickly.”

Butler runs Bounce with fellow Trinity graduates Brian O’Mahony, the start-up’s chief executive, Rónán Dowling-Cullen, its chief technology officer, and Josh Stafford and Brandon Dooley, joint software leads.

The company is a high-potential start-up client of Enterprise Ireland. Existing customers in the Irish market include Diageo, C&C Group, Bewley’s and Wilson Hartnell.