A Q&A with Wedgies co-founder and CEO Porter Haney. The Las Vegas-based social polling startup announced in late December a $700,000 Seed funding raise. Investors include Battle Born Venture, kbs+Ventures, Tony Hsieh’s Vegas Tech Fund and Greycroft Partners. The team previously raised $550,000 back in 2012. It was founded in 2012 by Haney and Jimmy Jacobson.
SUB: Please describe Wedgies and your primary innovation.
Haney: We’ve built Wedgies which is the easiest way to survey your customers where they already are which is your website and your social media pages. Our primary innovation is to allow your audience to vote right where they are which means we’ve our surveys work inline inside most social networks and one your website.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Haney: Our target market are people who create surveys and polls which are generally large media companies, brands and researchers. They are generally looking for a fast and efficient way to gather opinions from their readers or customers.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Wedgies from the competition?
Haney: There are a lot of traditional survey and research companies like Gallup and Nielsen who rely primarily on telephone calls to collect their data. There are more progressive companies like Survey Monkey who collect survey data primarily through email marketing. We compete with these companies to collect data and deliver it to similar customers, but most often we collect that data much more quickly and with a much larger sample size.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $700,000 in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise more outside funding?
Haney: There’s been a lot of movement in the survey industry the last year or so. Companies like Poptip and Polar are being acquired, and larger companies like Survey Monkey raising money for expansion. We’re poised to become the de facto solution for social surveying and this money will help accelerate how quickly we can do that.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds, and do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Haney: We plan to use the money to grow—this means more wedgies, in more places. As we need more fuel for growth we may look to outside investors again, and, we’re hiring. If you’re a strong developer you should apply to one of our open roles.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Wedgies? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Haney: One of the first things we built as an easy way to poll people on Twitter. Early on we were fortunate enough to have USA Today as an earlier customer and they used one of the very first Twitter polls we ever built. They collected thousands of votes in just a few minutes relating to a piece of breaking news. At that point, Jimmy, my co-founder, and I really had an ‘aha’ moment. We saw one of the top news outlets in the world engage their audience and collect opinions in near real-time.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Haney: We came up with the name when people were using our first product. We had built a simple tool to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, which meant showing the results of those questions in a pie chart. Those pie charts always ended up showing up as a ‘wedge’ in the graphic, and from there our name was born. We have a fun story about acquiring our domain name that you can read more about.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Haney: The most significant challenge has been integrating with a lot of different social networks. They all have different standards and enabling one tool to work in all of them is a real challenge.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Haney: We have a freemium SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model to charge survey creators that want advanced tools on top of our free tools. This includes things like deeper analytics, more social sharing features, more robust survey creation and white labeling.
SUB: What are your goals for Wedgies over the next year or so?
Haney: We’re excited to power some national level events with Wedgies social polls—things like award ceremonies, political events, and breaking news topics.