Seattle Startup: PlayMySurvey Makes Napalm Smell Better In The Morning INTERVIEW

If you’re wondering about the headline Seattle Startup: PlayMySurvey Makes Napalm Smell Better In The Morning, and you’re thinking that PlayMySurvey has to do with survey’s you’re actually right. However, in a light hearted interview with the Seattle based startup that was their first answer to what their company does.

Naturally, their real mission is clearly identified in the name. They make important survey’s more fun to complete by gamifying the survey system.

If Seattle makes you think of Mike Arrington, rain and metal and grunge music, then you’re not too far off. Derek, the co-founder of PlayMySurvey used to play bass for a pretty established regional heavy metal band called Hirmsa. Now he works a day job and has 99 other jobs (but the b*tch ain’t one, oh wait that’s problems), in running PlayMySurvey. He assures us though, like any good company, he has an Indian man doing all the grunt work for half the pay, but his man is actually in Washington State and not coding PlayMySurvey in between customer service calls for some big wireless company out of a Mumbai call center.

If you can tell from our lead in PlayMySurvey takes very important work and makes it a lot more fun. Not just by the duo’s great attitude in building a startup but by adding games and engaging designs into the questions themselves. According to Derek, there are a lot of survey companies and a lot of casual game companies in the Seattle and Redmond area. There’s a huge company in Redmond that not many take seriously these days. Roll that all into one and you have PlayMySurvey.

Check out our interview below

What is Playmysurvey?
We make napalm smell better in the morning.
Actually, we try to make surveys more fun by adding games and engaging designs to the questions. The theory goes that people will answer more questions and be more engaged if you can entertain them or make them feel like they’re not wasting their time.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
I’m Derek and I’m an ex hair-farmer that used to play bass in a metal band called Himsa. Now I have a hundred jobs and only get paid for 1 of them. The other 99 are all related to Play My Survey. It’s a lot like being in a metal band, in that I don’t get paid to do a lot of work, except I don’t get any fame either, unless this interview counts as fame, then maybe a little. Bhanu is the guy who codes all the backend stuff. He’s the one who has taken the plunge and quit his job to do this full time. He likes to watch me turn bright red when we eat a lot of spicy stuff on our late night work marathons.
Where are you based?
We are based in Seattle and Redmond, Washington, although, sometimes if feels like we’re based in coffee shops since we do a lot of work in them around the area. We are part of the SURF Incubator in downtown Seattle too.
What is the startup scene/culture like where you are based? Do you have access to all the resources you need there?
Actually we were talking about how there are similar survey and market research companies based here. There are also a lot of casual game companies here. It’s sort of a coincidence that this happen. Every time we find a new company that’s interesting, they are from here. Other than that, we aren’t familiar enough with any other startup scene to know how good it could be somewhere else. We are bootstrapped, but we hear it’s hard to get funding here sometimes. I feel that the scene here is supportive, but I question the motivation a lot. John Sechrest is doing a lot  by setting up regular startup events and meet ups. There are others trying to really foster the scene and we see more events and meet ups popping up all the time. We’ve had to get selective about the ones we attend because you could just spend all your time going to events and never get any work done.
How did you come up with the idea?
Play My Survey was a thought that I had at 5am in the morning (I feel like those half awake moments are the best times for coming up with ideas). My job had recently asked us to take a long, drawn out survey and I had this flash of the game show Family Feud. I started thinking about how I could make that boring survey into a game. I knew I wouldn’t be able to higher Richard Dawson to ask me those questions, but I wanted his energy and enthusiasm, along with his passionate greetings to make that survey better.
I brought the idea up to Bhanu that same day and he was really interested in it. Bhanu and I have always had the same entrepreneurial frame of mind. We decided to dig in and see what’s out there and we came up with nothing. Neither of us are gamers really, but we knew we could make the experience more fun. We started learning as much as we could about surveys and gaming.  We asked people around us what they thought of the idea while we built an MVP. We’re still doing that now.
What is the problem Playmysurvey solves?
We are still trying to find that perfect mix of making surveys fun, engaging, and rewarding. We want to end the suffering over long, boring surveys. If we could only take the question and answer part out of the surveys, we’d really be on to something! haha.
What is your secret sauce?
Coffee and Indian Food blended with persistence and frequent trips to the bathroom.
What is one dilemma you face in the startup process?
Where do we start? Finding the right market. Knowing if your MVP is actually “V”. Getting feedback from the right people. Questioning your designs and concept. Oh, wait. You said one dilemma. Sorry. I’ll go with the 2nd one.
What is one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Perfection – knowing that your product is never going to be perfect, so put it out right now. We should have launched earlier. One day we just said screw it and put 2 buttons on the home page that said “Play A Survey” and “Create A Survey”. No champaign bottles, no party, that’s it we were launched. I don’t even remember what day it was or why we were waiting to do that.
What’s next for Playmysurvey?
Build, Measure, Learn, Repeat…  or pivot and take on Vooza.comas a competitor.

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