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John Li is the Co-founder of PickFu, a do-it-yourself consumer research platform that instantly connects you to real people with relevant opinions. He helps businesses apply consumer insights to accelerate success. Before PickFu, John held different executive roles at Microsoft. He has a BS in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the Co-founder of Menuism, an online dining community and the web’s largest aggregator of online restaurant menus.  

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [04:30] What is PickFu, and how does it help people?
  • [07:23] John Li talks about his career journey and starting PickFu
  • [10:55] The value of using PickFu and different use cases in different industries 
  • [27:52] PickFu campaigns that stood out for John 
  • [30:38] The evolution of PickFu’s product 
  • [32:27] PickFu’s marketing strategy and pricing model
  • [37:11] The challenges he faced growing and running PickFu 
  • [39:22] John’s thoughts on bootstrapping versus raising capital

In this episode…

Do you have a business idea but are scared of investing your time, money, and resources in launching it because of the fear of failure? What can you do to prevent this from happening? 

If you’re a business founder, there is nothing more devastating than poor reception and market response. John Li recommends doing split testing and consumer research to get actionable pre-launch feedback and know what sells before producing and selling it. He shares how he helps people get reliable consumer responses for any project to help them make smarter, faster, data-driven decisions.

In this inspiring episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz welcomes John Li, Co-founder of PickFu, to discuss how entrepreneurs can succeed through consumer feedback. John talks about PickFu and how it helps people, the different applications of the platform in various industries, its marketing strategy and pricing model, and the challenges faced growing and running it.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Sponsor for this episode

At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution.

We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.

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We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.

Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPOEOLending TreeFreshdesk, and many more.

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz 0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have John Li of PickFu. And John, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out and other guests share amazing resources, their favorite resources. And that’s how I heard about John, Anna David, we did an episode on how to establish authority using your book was raving about PickFu. And what they do, and we’ll find out more, but if you want to not just trust your gut, right, you want to know what sells before you sell it. You know, so she helps high-end authors with their book. So like, why guess on the cover of the book, right? So she uses PickFu for a variety of reasons. And that’s one of them. So check that episode out. Brett Curry also, they have a lot of people in the e-commerce space. PickFu does because people and we’re gonna talk about some case studies where, if you’re investing 1000s, or 10s of 1000s, or hundreds of 1000s in product packaging, don’t guess right so a lot of people in e-commerce use them. Brett Curry, we did an episode driving results in e-commerce. So check that episode out. And we’re also chatting, John was saying that he threw up something with Rise25 to see what would show and the I did an episode with Martin Greiff of SiteTuners where he basically they do CRO stuff, and he ripped our site to shreds Live, but it’s instructional for everyone to listen to. And he didn’t pull punches with me on it. And so there’s that and many other episodes on in And this is instance, a SaaS, we did an episode with Pipedrive, which was really interesting Mailshake Sujan Patel talked about buying SaaS companies and how they grew to over 70,000 customers. So check that episode out. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. How do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast, we do accountability, the most important thing is strategy and the full execution and production. So John, I tell people, we’re like kind of the magic elves in the background that are working to make sure everything happens. So people could just have the conversation and run their business. And for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. And I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way to do that. Then the profile of people and companies I most admire over the past decade, and share with the what they’re working on the podcast. So if you have questions about podcasting, email us check out And John Li, let me formally introduce him. He’s co-founder of PickFu. And PickFu is a pooling platform that anyone could use to get fast, reliable feedback from actual real people and companies of all sizes use PickFu from solo entrepreneurs, to Fortune 100 companies, because that helps them make smarter, faster, data-driven decisions, not just guess and trust their gut like I was saying before, and past companies who have used PickFu include enterprises like Intuit fidelity e-commerce brands like Wayfair gaming companies, publishing companies, marketing companies, duct tape marketing is use them I had John Jones on the podcast to GoDaddy and many more. So we’re gonna show some examples. And you’re gonna have to guess which one you thought, one, okay, I thought it’d be fun to do that. And so picture you want feedback on your product packaging, before you invest lots of money. John has a master’s in computer science, and started his career actually as a software engineer for Microsoft. So, John, thanks for joining me.

John Li 4:17 

Thanks for having me on, Jeremy, super excited to talk to you.

Jeremy Weisz 4:20 

This is where I am quiet most of the time, and you’re doing most of the talking. So tell people about PickFu a little bit and in what you do. I know I explained it a little bit.

John Li 4:30 

Yeah, no, I mean, you explained it better than I could probably I mean, the way we talk about PickFu with others is that think of it like a online digital focus group. Right? We tap into the same panels, like large CPG companies like Procter and Gamble, they have complicated market research departments and they tap into these consumer panels. We tap into those same panels using software. And we’re letting we’re basically providing access to those panels. by putting that access, self-service in the hands of the people actually doing the work, right. So anyone who’s actually working on something within a business can now tap into those same panels get high-quality feedback on their marketing designs, or their ad copy, product, packaging, digital assets, all of that stuff. And we’re trying to do it faster, easier, and but still with super high quality.

Jeremy Weisz 5:24 

So you have real people. So we’re gonna go through an example for a second. And you’re going to, if you’re listening in the audio will describe it. But it’s best to watch the video portion of this, obviously, because we’re going to see some images of this book. Okay. And we’re gonna show these three images of this book, and guess which one won but talking about the real people before we have people guess it’s a dual marketplace is dual-sided software. How difficult was that early on? Because you have these companies coming in, but then you need actually real people to look at these things. How does that work?

John Li 6:09 

Yeah. So rather than building both sides of the marketplace, we tapped into existing consumer panels. So, the same panels where Nielsen will run a public opinion poll about, you know, some hot-button issue and publish it on CNN are the same panels where the political polling is done during election season, the same panels where Procter and Gamble touches reaches out to find their focus group participants, those are the same panels that we tapped into using software. And then we put a layer of demographic targeting, so you can reach exactly the type of person that you’re looking for. And then also quality control using machine and human algorithms, to make sure that the quality is high for every response that we get back.

Jeremy Weisz 7:06 

So John, I know you studied at Berkeley, computer science, and actually got your master’s in computer science and then went on Microsoft. At that point, what did you think you were gonna do? Did you think you were gonna stay at Microsoft forever? What was your thought of your career trajectory at that point?

John Li 7:23 

Honestly, my plan was to go to B school, at some point after Microsoft, so I started at Microsoft, as a software developer switched over to program manager instead to work more on sort of like the product is like product design and development side of things. Funny thing, I was actually working in the mobile devices group at Microsoft, this is right before the iPhone came out, then kind of changed the game for everyone. But my original plan was to go to B school. Instead, my co-founder, Justin and I decided to start a business together instead.

Jeremy Weisz 7:59 

How did that come about?

John Li 8:03 

Why we chose the school of hard knocks, instead of…

Jeremy Weisz 8:06 

Starting a company exactly.

John Li 8:08 

We went to Berkeley together. And we had always wanted to do a startup together. We graduated during the first .com bust, where we saw all the startups going under. Even as we progressed in our careers individually, we would always talk about different business ideas and so on and say, oh, no, no, we’re not going to do it. And the funny thing was, was that all these ideas that we would come up with, that we decided not to do, we would see other startups come out and start doing them. So at least that was some validation that our ideas weren’t the dumbest things if someone else was willing to go raise money and pursue that idea. So at some point, when we were both at transition points in our careers at our companies, then we decided, hey, why not give it a go and start a business?

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