ProofPilot’s Clear and Transparent Pricing Strategy

Pricing can be tricky — particularly for budget conscious mission driven organizations. Here’s the details on ProofPilot pricing and how we got here.

When I browse around a website and don’t see pricing, I get nervous. Does it mean the pricing is so expensive that listing it would turn me off? Does it mean that the pricing is so complicated that there could be misunderstandings about what things really cost? Does it mean that every deal is entirely abstract and custom and we won’t know how much it’ll cost until the project is done?

ProofPilot customers deserve better than that. So, at ProofPilot, we’re doing everything we can to ensure our pricing is:

  • Cost Effective: Our primary goal is to make scientifically valid research and evaluation possible within organizations that felt it was out of reach before.
  • Simple: Our pricing is designed to be easily remembered so you can do back of the napkin budget calculations yourself.
  • Transparent: Our pricing is full and open. What you see is what you get.
  • Fixed: When you sign up for ProofPilot, you know exactly what you are getting, at exactly the price. No misunderstandings or “missed estimates.”

Here’s how we came up with our pricing strategy.

How much should research and evaluation cost?

ProofPilot is in the business of democratizing tools that were once only available to well-funded academia and pharma. That’s a long way of saying we want the costs to be a lot less expensive than the status quo. The value of being able to say “this works based on a scientifically valid study” is just to great to have it be available to very few.

So, how much does research and evaluation cost now? Look on a lot of the big consulting websites, or academic institutions that provide research and evaluations services. Is there a pricing page? No. And the tech companies that support the space. Few have pricing available. Why? Because determining the costs are complicated and end up being quite high. Going over budget is almost expected.

Government agencies and professional evaluators for generations have recommended 10% to 15% of a program operational budget should be held back for evaluation. That means a modest organization with a $1 million grant could be paying $150k for evaluation services and costs.

ProofPilot feels that is far too high. Most organizations conducting want to spend as much money on programming (helping people) as possible. As a software as a service tool designed to support program operations, and manage research and evaluation efforts, ProofPilot provides a large number of efficiencies that bring costs way down.

We feel 2% is probably more realistic and easier to stomach. For organizations just starting out, or projects that have a heavy research focus, the percentage may be a bit higher.

So that means an organization with an annual half million budget should spend about $10k a year on research and evaluation — about 1/5th of the low end current “best practice” recommendation.

ProofPilot Pricing Levels

Pilot Plus: The Pilot Plus level is meant for organizations just starting to get into research and evaluation. You’ve got an annual programming spend of at least $450k. You don’t have multiple sites. Beyond required evaluation, think of ProofPilot as a tool to reduce waste and continuously improve. For $8400 a year, you can measure your return on investment. Put more money into programs that work. Scale back programs that have no impact. The Pilot Plus level allows a small organization (up to 10 named professions) to support program operations and conduct an unlimited number of scientifically powerful studies, engaging an unlimited number of participants in multiple languages.

Why do we limit the number of study collaborators to 10? The simple and complete answer is customer support. ProofPilot has made a massive investment to make the tool as self-service as possible. But, inevitably there will be questions from study sponsors and program staff (the researchers). Capping the number of study professionals helps us provide the best service possible at each price point.

Pilot Version (read free): Some of you may be saying by this point — wait. I’m just starting out. I don’t have an operational budget even close to a half million. Others may be saying; I’m just a hobbyist wanting to run quantifiable self-studies with my friends. I don’t have a budget and never will.

No problem.

ProofPilot offers a free version for hobbyists and those just starting out. We believe strong research and evaluation findings can lead to great things. So, we want to support you. With ProofPilot’s free version, three people can collaborate to launch and run a study with an unlimited number of participants online, in one language.

We encourage weekend athletes, graduate students, social-entrepreneurs, and body hackers to use this level.

Why do we provide a free version? It’s good business. First, we expect some innovative and exciting online studies from people like yourself. These cool studies attract participants, stoke the imagination of potential customers and bring ProofPilot positive visibility. Second, a small portion of these “free” studies will validate ideas that will turn into money making operations. Maybe you’ll get some good data, decide to create a service organization, and upgrade to Pilot Plus. And finally, the studies help contribute to the body of knowledge about what works to improve human health. And isn’t that what we’re all about?

Advanced: The advanced level license is meant for studies that need a little bit more. The reasons for needing more are varied:

  • Your organization is bigger so needs to support unlimited studies and unlimited participants across a larger group of study professionals (up to 25)
  • You are running medical studies, any studies involving children outside of an educational setting, or a marginalized population that requires slightly more regulatory oversight functionality (like signature based consent, parental consent, and adverse reaction reporting).
  • Your studies require professionals to review participant case data and make determinations while the participant is not around.
  • It’s really important that your participants do not engage in any other study immediately prior to and during your study.

The kinds of studies possible under the advanced level are those that typically require large NIH grants, with budgets of a half million or more per year — just to do the study. Some may spend in the low six figures to develop a custom research mobile application.

ProofPilot puts the advanced level license and those complex studies within the realm of organizations at a discount of about 80%. As an organization with about $750k program spend, you get to spend most of that money on actual program operations — not on the actual evaluation or study.

Organizational: The organization level probably deserves a post by itself. The most exciting part of this level is the ability to create study and task templates that are only available to users within your organization. These templates mean program staff, anywhere in the world, can rapidly ramp up highly pertinent studies by tailoring templates that already meet overall organizational objectives. And the data rolls up to a full operational view.

Typically, this type of operation would require an evaluation department with both highly skilled and educated individuals, plus administrative stuff to pull the material together. ProofPilot makes it possible for organizations with a $2.5 million dollar program budget to operate at this level, and still not break the 2% to evaluation lowball benchmark.

By the way, the organizational level allows ProofPilot to provide more security and privacy information on an annual basis. While our procedures are industry best practice, we find that many larger organizations need documentation and checks that take up a significant amount of time within our staff. Unfortunately, as of yet, we haven’t found one ‘template,’ that suits all needs. Every organization is different. We can meet whatever those needs may be at the organizational level.

Other Costs:

As much as we tried, at this point at least, there are still a couple of costs that are variable. But, we’re working on this and will update you when we find ways to eliminate even this small amount of variability.

Rewards: Today, most research studies reward or reimburse participants for their time with gift cards. ProofPilot currently has more than 100 gift-card partners in 23 countries in 6 currencies. There are transaction fees associated with the gift cards.

How we’re eliminating the costs: ProofPilot is building a library of free rewards that can be redeemed for discounts online. We’ll be releasing this library soon. In the meantime, you can partner with local businesses to offer discounts and promotions that are rewarded through ProofPilot for free.

Premium Task Templates: Providing access to certain validated measures and electronic medical records costs ProofPilot money, and we must pass those costs on to study sponsors.

How we are eliminating the costs: ProofPilot always tries to find an open source option to substitute in for fee validated assessments and measures. Where costs are related to technology, we continue to evaluate for free integrations and prioritize functionality that will reduce costs for the largest number of our customers.

Regulatory Review: All studies on ProofPilot must be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board prior to launching. This process helps ensure that participants are not put into situations with unreasonable risk. It would be a conflict of interest for ProofPilot to do these reviews ourselves, so we’ve partnered with Veritas IRB in Montreal. There is a cost for each study reviewed.

How we are eliminating the cost: ProofPilot includes one free review per year at every license level. For those organizations that have their own internal IRB, there are no additional IRB costs. For those that don’t, the study template feature is our key to reducing IRB costs. We are actively evaluating with Veritas and our scientific advisory board how we can make the subsequent costs even lower or eliminate them entirely.

Professional Services: We are continuing to build ProofPilot to make it as easy to use as possible. We want research and evaluation studies to be as ubiquitous as blog entries. We think we’ve done a good job getting there. We don’t expect many organizations will need professional services. In fact, we hope that few actually need to call us for the included telephone based support.

But, we understand that there may be some advanced questions. These questions aren’t about how to use or implement ProofPilot. The questions are more fundamental. What do I measure? What should my studies be? For that, right now, professional services is probably required. We’re keeping costs low, under our costs.

How we are eliminating the cost: Our knowledge base, and e-mail based staff are getting increasingly good at answering simple strategic questions about study design. But their goal is to help you with ProofPilot functionality. They are not there to design your study. We want you to be as self-sufficient as possible. As we build more study template features, we expect many will eliminate these kinds of questions — further reducing the need for both technical and strategic support.