Funnel Makes Web Surveys That Are Fun

Okay, yes, fun is perhaps too strong a word. But as two former Microsoft employees get set to launch a survey tool for iPhone, Android, and iPad, they might just have built the first such product that doesn’t make you want to throw something.



In his recent job as a Microsoft employee, Ryan Panchadsaram had to travel by plane a fair amount. He kept noticing that the airlines had an annoying habit of sending him a survey via email the day after his flight–right while he was in the middle of work, and so he would never bother with it. Furthermore, the surveys were often complicated, unwieldy grids where he was forced to deliver absurd shades of nuance (was he “neutral,” or just “mostly neutral,” about his in-flight service?). Why couldn’t the airline have just sent him a simple survey while he was waiting on the tarmac, or in the taxi home–when he was bored and looking for something to do?

That’s the thinking behind Funnel, a simple and attractive survey tool for iPhone, iPad, and Android. Panchadsaram and a colleague, Jimmy Do, left longstanding jobs at Microsoft in the fall and have been bootstrapping their survey tool ever since. Funnel launches next week.

A number of the features of Funnel are nice, if obvious. Since it’s usable on a smartphone or tablet, it relies on touch rather than clicking, which Panchadsaram calls a “completely different,” more natural experience when compared to the standard Survey Monkey fare. Funnel also has pleasing design, something we hardly expect from surveys–but why shouldn’t we?

One of the most insightful features of Funnel, though, is the way it enforces the survey designer to ask questions that really matter, and to simplify. There came a crucial moment during the design phase where Panchadsaram and Do realized they could only comfortably fit up to six possible survey responses on one page.

“Well,” they figured at first, “if the business wants to have 18 possible responses to a question, we’ll let them build three pages of responses, right?”


But as they thought about it, they realized that wouldn’t fly. “That will go against what we’ve tried to build,” Panchadsaram remembers thinking, “a short, quick survey that, when you get it, you know you can take quickly.”

Version 1 of Funnel is free; the team doesn’t want to hinder adoption. Future versions will have paid features: you could pay to remove “made with Funnel” from the interface, making it appear more integrated with your business’s website, for instance. Panchadsaram also says future versions will make fuller use of aspects unique to mobile–starting, of course, with geolocation.

And this might be crazy, but here goes: If the team makes Funnel appealing enough, maybe companies won’t even have to bribe you with gift certificates and raffles to get you to do web surveys in the future.


About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.