Pollfish: The Greek startup that predicted Brexit is transforming market research

By Endeavor Greece Apr 5, 2021

If someone performs a Google search for Pollfish, they will come across English-language articles written in 2016 about a company that had predicted the Brexit, at a time when giant opinion research companies used to foresee “Remain,” and it is the same company that foresaw that the next resident of the White House would be Donald Trump and not Hilary Clinton. Today, this Greek startup has developed a platform that provides companies and individuals with the possibility to perform market surveys globally in real time. It has conquered America and has clients in a total of 30 countries. 

John Papadakis, the founder and CEO of the company, talked to Outliers, Endeavor Greece’s podcast series, whose media partner is MoneyReview, about how he entered the startup ecosystem, about his failures, his mistakes, the lessons he learned, and he disclosed his plans for the future.  

How did it all start? Mr. Papadakis was born in Aliartos, Greece. He spent part of his childhood in Deutschland and studied at the University of Patras. “The university offers you the foundations and an ecosystem, as well as the right individuals to connect with,” he claims. Since he was little, he used to be involved in programming, and he went on with it during his stay in Patras. At the beginning, he worked as a freelancer creating apps. His first company was founded just after he performed his military service and its main objective was to design apps. It failed. However, this company helped shape the way of thinking of the Pollfish team, which was his next venture.  

At first, the company introduced apps that were very popular, but they were not profitable. He soon realized, however, that there were a lot of people who were willing to take part in surveys. In 2011, they performed their first nationwide survey in Greece. In the next 2-3 years, they had virtually no clients, as people doubted the reliability of the online surveys. “The market was not ready for us yet,” Mr. Papadakis explains. Nevertheless, Pollfish succeeded in raising funds and took the risk of moving to New York, where Mr. Papadakis is based for the past four years. In his very first trip, he found his first clients. “We started low, but in New York we experienced a steady rise on a monthly basis,” he says. 

Nowadays, Pollfish’s products are used by both giant Forture 500 List companies and small companies, which initially did not know they could conduct a market survey and they were completely unaware of the benefits. 

What is their end game? “Either to buy off another company and grow bigger or enter the stock market.”

Mr. Papadakis is not afraid of the competition. He is well aware of its rules, but what he is mainly interested in is the prospects of the market growth. He knows that he is located in a very large market which undergoes a transformation phase; a service-oriented market is evolving into a product-oriented one, and he is ready to take advantage of every opportunity it offers. 

As to what he believes turns an entrepreneur into an outlier? To think of something completely different. “In this case, the risk that an entrepreneur runs is that if the market does not move towards their direction, then they are out there all alone and different. If the market moves towards them, then they are bound to become outliers.”

Find the episode on Outliers.gr

The article was originally published at moneyreview.gr

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