Customer feedback, an incredibly-important factor for any startup or even larger companies, can often be vague — there’s no real way for them to express specific feelings aside from checking “satisfied” or “not”. Morphii helps you dive a little deeper with a product that provides entrepreneurs, healthcare leaders, and marketing agencies with specific emotional feedback data on customer service, product usage and more through their science-backed app.
“We can help business owners to increase their employee retention, brand managers to develop customer loyalty, healthcare providers to improve outcomes, and others to greater understand the value and utility of emotion data/insights,” says Dr. Brian K. Sullivan, founder and chief science officer at Morphii.
A morphii, a light green emoji-like button, can help you detect the subtle difference between a customer being “disgusted” or “disappointed.” It can help physicians treat patients better and help children on the autistic spectrum communicate with those around them. Dr. Sullivan was inspired by his own patients as they were having a hard time measuring their own feelings with a basic numerical scale of 1-5. Along with his co-founder and chief product office Corley Higgins, he set out to build a platform that could help acquire reliable emotional data and apply those analytics to grow a business or help someone in need.
Here, Dr. Sullivan shares more about how his psychology background helped him develop Morphii, how the app can help engage your employees and customers more, and how you can integrate its analytics into your product.
Funding or bootstrapped:
Over $2M of seed funding raise to date, actively seeking another $1.5M.
What’s your pitch?
The Morphii platform allows developers, healthcare providers, HR professionals, brand managers, researchers, and others to capture, share, and measure specific types and intensities of emotions in that most natural of media: facial expressions.
With this platform, we can provide high-level analytics for richer insights and more accurate prediction of behaviors through the mediating phenomenon of motivation. These tools can be integrated into websites via our widgets, mobile applications via our SDKS’s, and are accessible via our API’s for data analytics.
Tell me more about the term “emotional data”. How can Morphii’s science-backed tech help companies increase engagement?
“Emotion data” refers to our unique capacity to capture and measure objectively a wide variety of subjective phenomena including emotions, moods, and clinical phenomena (e.g. depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, nausea) with a format that is culture-fair, language agnostic, and more fun that Likert scales, 5-star systems and the like.
And, by allowing people to express real emotions with exacting specificity for type and intensity of those experiences, we provide people the ability to communicate their experiences more organically, relieving them of the burden of trying to quantify their own experiences (as they must do with Likert or 5-star systems) and of trying to elaborate their feelings in text.
This makes interpretation of the data they provide much clearer, cleaner, and less open to misinterpretation. The UIs are fun to use, and our research demonstrates that people enjoy using them in place of text or even emoji, which were never designed to represent specific feelings or specific intensities, and which are easily misinterpreted or at least very differently interpreted across and even within operating systems.
Please describe the market/industry impact of Morphii.
So far, we have seen uptake and use by a TV program developer to gauge viewer reactions to a sizzle reel before approaching an investor for funding, with great results. We’ve seen an HR company learn in a new way about their employees’ engagement disparities, with actionable results. We’ve signed a major purveyor of medical patient registration kiosks, who will begin to collect mood and satisfaction data in the interest of improving patient care and outcomes. We’re talking with an entrepreneur who wants to integrate the Morphii platform into her app designed to help people on the autistic spectrum to function more effectively in their lives.
A physician in the NC research triangle is integrating Morphii into an application designed to help physicians to more effectively predict who might become addicted to opioid medications, and prevent that from happening. We’re seeing major brand agents in multi-national agencies exploring consumers’ emotional reactions to social media. And we’re working with an entrepreneur who aims to help address the major problem of nurse retention in nursing school and clinical settings.
How’d you get the idea for this?
In my practice as an independent practitioner and also as a clinical training director at the College of Charleston’s Counseling & Substance Abuse Services, I knew how valuable and important it can be to measure progress and outcomes with people in psychotherapy, but I found that the instruments available for doing so were, frankly, boring and tedious.
My patients would skip items, fail to read them thoroughly, spend excessive time trying to figure out whether a 2 or a 3 or a 4 on a Likert scale of 0-to-5 was the best way to try to describe their internal experiences, and, in the end, give me data that were either patently invalid or or questionable utility. My background in neuropsychology, developmental psychology, and test development led me to believe that visual stimuli based on facial expressions would allow me to gather more information more quickly, more validly, with higher engagement (fun), and so I invented the idea of a user-controlled, adjustable morphing character set to represent such phenomena as depression, anxiety, irritability, and the like, that could be valid across the age span, across genders, and across language/ethnicity demographics.
Once the idea was developed by my co-founder, Corley, who styled the graphics, coded the UI, developed the databasing and server structures to run it all, and built prototypes to demonstrate it, we then found that many people outside the healthcare arena were also interested in better ways to capture, communicate, and measure emotions, feelings, sentiments, and other subjective phenomena.
Ours is a freemium model that allows adopters to use the Morphii platform free for up to 90 days, then enter into any of various levels (including enterprise) of data generation. The tools themselves remain free to use; its the data and insights that generate revenue, and we’ll expand our analytics capacities as we build an immense repository of emotion data along with the subjects to which those data pertain.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
Competition mainly comes from alternative means of capturing and measuring these phenomena (e.g. free-form text analytics systems, emoji-focused analytics systems, Likert scales, 5-star rating systems, facial-expression-decoding systems, EEG and other physiologically-based systems, etc.).
We actually don’t compete with players in the verticals we support; we provide tools that can help them do their jobs more effectively. Most of what would appear to be competitors, can actually augment their methods with the Morphii platform to provide alternative means of data collection and/or means for helping to validate their technologies. We are science-based and mission-focused in leveraging natural human capacities to build better connections for the good of business, consumers, and people in general.
How does your psychology background help you as a founder and in scaling your company?
Being a psychologist helps me to empathize with the frustrations people face in their efforts to connect, to communicate effectively, to be understood, and to meet their goals. It helps me also to step back, see developments more as parts of ongoing processes and not just events, understand that there’s always more going on than meets the eye. With respect to scaling the business, it helps me to keep always in my mind the extreme importance of helping people to connect with one another meaningfully, to express effectively, and to be understood.
I continue to practice with my clinical patients part-time, and so I’m constantly reminded how painful and frustrating it can be to be misunderstood. I’m continually motivated to make sure we’re helping to address those needs. My background in neuropsychology, personality theory, developmental psychology, and clinical psychology allows me to help develop not only a new means of communication, but an expanded science of user engagement and measurement that helps my team to build tools that get the job done so that others can get their jobs done.
How does the Southeast weave into your story?
Great question. We’re based in Charleston and absolutely love it here among the growing tech startup/business community, locally known as the Silicon Harbor. Most of our team members are from South Carolina or other Southeastern states.