Bringing the polls to the people

New polling software doubles as market-research tool and social app

Thinkster, a new app from U of W alum Joe Sworyk takes a social approach to opinion polling and market data.

One day, in an economics lecture at the University of Winnipeg (U of W), while his peers were taking notes or thinking about the stock market, Joe Sworyk came up with the idea for the social-polling software company that became Thinkster.

Thinkster is a transparent social-polling app. Users can create and fill out polls and connect with other users. Scrolling through Thinkster and seeing people’s opinions “is a lot deeper than just seeing someone’s profile picture,” Julian Rowan, Thinkster’s chief marketing officer, says.

To build Thinkster, Joe Sworyk, the CEO and developer, switched his major to computer science and brought on his brother, Andy Sworyk, as chief product officer.

Just as someone might immediately go to Google for an information search, they want folks to go to Thinkster first to collect opinions, Rowan says.

Polling is invaluable to market research, but “there isn’t a lot of interest or enjoyment associated with filling out surveys ... we endeavored to find a way to make it more palatable for the average person,” Joe Sworyk says. 

“Thinkster is kind of a double-headed dragon. Right now, we’re heavily focusing on the social app, (but) we want to be able to integrate our polling algorithms into any business’ point of contact with either their customers (or) their peers,” Rowan says.

Angela Claveria is president of events for the U of W’s Business Administration Students’ Association. Her team uses polling and surveys to collect feedback for their events from students and sponsors. They currently use Google Forms as their main tool, she says.

In addition to surveys, the team will post fun and engaging questions on their “Instagram story about a specific event (and) get people to answer a multiple-choice quiz question,” Claveria says. 

It’s “a challenge to get people to actually do a survey or do the poll,” she says, adding she usually receives a 25 per cent response rate. She says it’s a struggle to get students to spend even a couple minutes filling out a survey or poll.  

As a student, Claveria empathizes with the 75 per cent who skip the surveys. When “I attend an event and they send a follow up email (for) feedback, I always feel like I can do that later (and) keep forgetting,” she says.

If applied as a tool for university groups like Claveria’s events team, Thinkster would allow “them to have a more unfiltered way to communicate with students and see the feedback ... in real time,” Rowan says.

The benefit for schools is “limitless, because there’s always going to be value in getting quantitative and qualitative feedback,” Rowan says.

The goal of Thinkster is to bring the value of polling to users, because usually when people’s data is collected, all they get in return is nonstop advertising, but Thinkster opens “up the floodgates to give people the same sort of value,” Rowan says.

“We’re giving more value at 0.1 per cent of the cost that (other) companies are charging and hope to do it in a fun, easy way,” Rowan says.

Learn more about Thinkster at Thinkster’s social app is in the open beta stage. Download it from the App Store or Google Play and send feedback to Joe Sworyk at [email protected].

Published in Volume 75, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 25, 2021)

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