2014-05-31 20.24.03

Voice Polls – Felix Winckler Interview

Voice Polls, a free polling app that allows anyone to create polls and easily collect or express opinions and attach them to the website, blog or forum of their choice, is a start-up born out of the imagination and determination of two young men who live in New York. “Give and gather opinion” is their motto, and a striking feature is how easily Voice poll results can be shared across the web on various platforms, from Twitter to Facebook. One of the founders, Felix Winckler, a Fordham University law graduate who worked in commercial litigation, agreed to answer a few questions for Impakter. Here are highlights of that interview:

Q. What is Voice for you?

Voice is a sort of Twitter for polls. Voice is a social polling platform. It allows anyone to quickly create and share surveys amongst a socially activated community of opinion makers. With this approach we want to build a community capable of providing a new source of public opinion.

On the one end, it is a fun experience for people like you and me to express their opinions. Soon you will be able to make money by answering promoted questions. But for now the experience is more of an introspective experience where you answer questions on any topic asked by your friends and people you choose to follow. You can view what your friends have said and debate with them.

On the other end, it is an innovative and insightful tool for marketers, small businesses, non-profit or other organizations to collect data. Anyone can ask the opinion of our community on the best logo to choose, the quality of a product or their expectations on a service. We provide you with basic data analysis for free. We will soon provide a market research service with a highly qualified panels and advance analytics.

In a nutshell, we are building a market place where public opinion is sourced and analyzed in an innovative way.

Q. How did you come up with this idea?

The idea came about two years ago as a response to the frustrations we felt about how public opinion is made. We believe that the concept of public opinion is controlled in some way by polling agencies and that contrary to what is done today, people can and should actively engage in the creation of public opinion. We believe that the right to ask questions should belong to everyone not solely to research agencies or brands.

In contradiction to this conventional top-down mechanism, we wanted to be pioneer in a fully collaborative and transparent survey process, accessible to all.

Check our ‘about’ page for the full story: https://voicepolls.com/about

Voice---AppStore-Screenshots In the photo: Littel view of Voice Polls app.

Q. How close is it today to your original vision?

It’s getting closer and closer to what I had in mind.

Q. Who are your key users?

Web publishers. They use our questions to engage their readers. When building Voice we thought that users should be able to share questions anywhere on the web so people could vote on them without being on the app.

Voice questions can be shared on any social network and embedded on virtually any site or blog. It’s a very powerful tool to engage your audience. For example, a publishers can embed a question about the new Iphone under an article about it. People reading the article can vote on that question but simultaneously people from the Voice app can also vote on it. Further, the publisher can spread the question on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere and collect opinions from there.

Publishers are great content creators for us and help us improve our service. Today they can use our embedded poll for free. But soon they will be able to make cash by embedding sponsored questions.

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In the photo: Felix Winckler 

Q. How does Voice differ from the current market players?

Our objective is to be the number one player in the various app stores. Today there are a couple of polling apps around but none of them really made it to the top. Most of our competitors provide a utility rather than a social environment like ours. We believe that this social layer will make the difference.

2014-10-14 11.17.48In the photo: Voice Polls team in an intensive UI evaluation meeting session.

Q. Let’s talk about growth, what’s your favorite “growth hack” platform?

I’m not sure what you are referring to. Would Hacker news and Reddit be “growth hack” platforms? If yes I think Hacker news is probably the most interesting… but I’m not a big fan of these sites.

Growth hacking is a buzz word that is misinterpreted and misused. Some say it can lead to unhealthy growth strategies.

If you want to talk about growth, I would tell you that there is only organic growth that counts. We base ours on referral and on the sharing of questions across the web.

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In the photo: Felix Winckler, Etienne Adriaenssen and Melchior Schöller

Q. Voice today and tomorrow. Where are you right now?

Today we have a pure consumer product. The Voice experience is an introspective experience where users ask each other questions that they would not ask themselves normal. It’s a sort of “questionnaire de Proust”. The experience is fun and insightful.

In a few weeks, we will release a more B to B version of the app. Money will come into the equation. Users will be able to make cash by answering certain sponsored questions. It will be interesting to see how the community reacts to this.

Q. What political issues are you on top of, how do you plan to handle them and how do you differ from standard polling agencies?

On top of providing a new way to source public opinion we want to innovate in the way opinion data is analyzed.

We will leave politicians and others ask the basic questions of “who would people vote for”. Instead, we will promote other questions, those politician never dare to ask (for example “Do you think your country’s political system is working?” or “Is your government corrupt?”).

The idea is to make insightful correlations with these questions and provide more than just a report on basic questions.

Also, because our questions can be shared so easily across the web we believe they could be used for online campaigns.

Q. Ok, you are a start-up, in order to get here today, you went through a lot of sweat, blood and tears. What were the major difficulties and curve balls you had to deal with?

The major accomplishments were made by my co-founder Etienne Adriaenssen and our engineering team. Building these applications required a lot of intelligence as well as dedicated work. For months, night and day, they had to think of every detail to make it all work. We faced several times real technological problems and it took a lot of “sweat and tears” to overcome them. I am immensely respectful of their work.

Another challenge was our visibility. To exist online people have to find you and I will not surprise you if I tell you that it’s not enough to have a nice website sitting out there. You have to convince people who have other things on their mind that your vision is worth their attention. Being selected by several incubators (Le camping, seed camp), winning awards (the french american entrepreneurship award), being featured in the App store or getting the attention of the press, were real steps for us.

What is the biggest challenge you foresee tackling in the nearest future? 

Our challenge for the near future is to convince marketers and brands that our research offer is worth their attention.

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Q. What impact do you aim to have with your company?

I hope that our community will grow to become a source of public opinion for marketer, bands and politics. I hope that more people will join and understand that together as a community they can be heard.

Q. Felix, let me turn to personal questions. Who are you? A dreamer or a doer?  Are you practical or poetic?  A traveler or home-bound? 

Dreamer, practical and a traveler.

Q. Did you go anywhere interesting lately?

I went kitesurfing in Essaouira (Morocco). Amazing beach and much more authentic than expected. I was staying in a charming hotel in the medina (Riad chbanate). I was very surprised not to see many tourists.

Q. Something stupid you have done without regrets?

Do you mean stupid or crazy? Because this Voice endeavor is by far the craziest thing I have done with no regrets.

Q. Any motto that drives your life?

“Patience and time do more than force and rage” yes, from La Fontaine…

Q. Beer or Wine?

Beer today will probably switch to wine soon.

Q. Which one is your favourite Voice question? 

I don’t specially have a favorite one, but I like this one: If your life was a movie which genre would it be? 37% Comedy, 15% Action/adventure, 20% Low-budget indie, 13% Romance, 15% Tragedy

I think it is quite a poetic way to look at life and an interesting manner to qualify our community.

Here is an example of VOICE Polls

The funniest one?

Because you can ask anything you like there are a lot of funny questions such as:

Which one is longer: girls saying they are ‘ready in 5’ or guys saying ‘be home in 5’?

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Do vampires get HIV?

But my favorite one maybe…

What will Kanye West go down in history for? 23% Being a rapper, 3% His influence in fashion, 59% Being an asshole, 4% Being a visionary, 11% Being misunderstood

What’s a good night out for you?

Dinner at a friend’s house where we cook our food and play our music

What do you rock at? Your biggest interest(s)?

I’m really into music… you can check our Spotify profile (smile)

Are there any particular artists you should follow?

Check Jungle (“the heat” is my favorite track)

Do you favor any philanthropic activities?

I was involved with a NGO in Mali. Considering what’s going on today in this region… It’s pretty impossible to go there anymore.

Finally, which track gets you going?

Some kind of love – Velvet Underground

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