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Data Acquisition Strategies

Starting anything from scratch means putting a lot of sweat and effort to make it running. Startups always go through this phase, be it getting their first investment or launching their Beta test. Every step needs their wholesome attention.

Data acquisition strategy usually goes hand-in-hand with the choice of business model that you are opting. For example, startups with a chatbot can assign a human “AI trainers” who manually create or verify the utterances their chatbots make. This gets tougher when you have multiple data centers and information that is coming is very sensitive. If you plan to build a Big data enterprise, you go for application integration and business intelligence firms for data mining, aggregation, and validation. But did I tell you that it will cost much higher than what you earn at your early stages?

The following list of strategies will give you an idea of how to start acquiring data for your startup at the teething stage.

Run a Beta Campaign

Launching a beta before your actual product is another approach. Design a campaign in which the customer can give an input on a web based environment with his information. This is a little challenging though as people hesitate from giving personal data online but if they like the campaign, they will. Many startups create a beta community who will get the product before the world. Making your potential customer feel privileged is the formula here but For this, you need to fascinate your potential user regarding the actual product.

Setup a Local Wifi for Free

Free-Wifi is a perk no one denies! Every person carries a mobile device and the need to stay connected with the internet would urge them to use your Free WiFi connection. WiFi network can give the information of people around the area, a number of people inside and outside the specific area, the concentration of users at a particular website, their browsing history and what not. For example, SocialSign.in has created a system where customers catch the wifi, and to use it, they have to log-in via their social media profiles. After signing in, customers can be asked to like a page, subscribe to a mailing list or just land to your website directly. Even when customers don’t bother with that optional step, you can have insights about their customers through their social sign-ins alone

Use social media websites

Engage with your potential customers on these websites and run a campaign to have them onboard. LinkedIn having more than 450 million users is a great source of data on professionals, a suitable amount of information can be collected with their professional profiles. Twitter having over 300 million users with the huge number of images and data they put in every day. Facebook, crossing above 1.75 billion users (and no restriction of 140 characters) has manifolds of data, with the people sharing almost everything from the places they eat to the car they drive. The best part of this approach? You don’t ask for it! 🙂

Use GPS and other Sensors

GPS and many other sensors are embedded in every application we use. Different sensors can be used to analyze different trends of the people. What places they commonly visit, what websites they surf, what stores are the center of attention, all this information can be extracted by using this data provided by the embedded sensor on your application, device or website. For example, with over 100,000 sensor-equipped vehicles on the road, Tesla is currently building the largest training datasets for self-driving cars gathering more autopilot miles every day than Google.

Manual Data Approach

The use of survey tools is the most primary and direct (Read: hassle) way of data acquisition and collection. The survey forms, questionnaires, etc and interviews with the customer targeted on the requisite data with generic and specific questions as per the need. However, this method is not a very attractive approach because filling up these forms can be a hassle for the users at times, or you may need to put in some goodies for the customers in order to motivate them to give you the information you need.


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Hira Saeed Hira Saeed
(@heerasaeed) Simplifying Technology at Aplos Innovations. Community Leader at Startup Weekend. Contributor at VentureBeat.
Say ‘Hi’ at hello@hirasaeed.com.