Questions To Inspire


Robust and insightful

for the price of quick and dirty

Scientific methods for DIY consumer research


What We Do

We develop professional-grade questionnaires, interview scripts, focus group activities, observation checklists, psychometric scales, experimental designs, and protocols for extracting social media content.

Our research tools are precise, valid, reliable, and deliver answers you might have never considered. 

Who It's For

We serve professionals who do their own consumer research and require bullet-proof methodology: planners, strategists, consultants, analytics managers, designers, and marketers.





Online questionnaires.
Collect meaningful data with carefully designed and calibrated questions, and a survey design that keeps your participants engaged.  Use with Survey Monkey or any other online platform of choice.

Customer satisfaction.
Questionnaires and detailed instructions for measuring customer loyalty for when the net-promoter doesn't cut it anymore.

Scripts for interviews.
A logical, timed flow; questions that produce information-rich questions; plus tips on what to listen for. Designed for interviewing consumers, prospects, B2B decision-makers, and internal stakeholders.



Focus group activities.
Reveal hidden truths about the brand, creative, or product by engaging social dynamics with our group exercises.

Card sorts.
Reveal the mental models that govern consumers' actions.  We will make the cards, and suggest a number of different activities: from triads to semantic or temporal field mapping.

Ethnography protocols.
For shop-alongs, home visits, and workplace shadowing. Follow a special protocol designed to help you understand how consumers form and prioritize objectives, how they navigate the space, and how they evaluate alternatives.



Creative and product tests. Monadic (A/B) and pre/post designs for testing creative stimuli: ad concepts and finished creative,  packaging, and brand assets.

Conjoint experiments.
They used to cost tens of thousands, but now anyone can run a conjoint study using one of several online tools. We will create a robust design for you to plug into your tool of choice.

Neuro studies.
We will help you navigate the cutting edge of consumer science: implicit associations, priming research, facial microexpressions, and brain waves. We offer a neutral POV on methodological suitability, supplier recommendations, and help with setting things up.



Data analysis plans.
Go beyond your tool's default graphs with detailed instructions on what analyses to run and how to interpret the results.

Make sure you select the right participants for your research with our screening questions and algorithms.

Shot lists.
Are you filming your fieldwork?  Use our shot lists to collect just the right scenes for an Oscar-worthy b-roll.

Vendor selection.
Selecting a tech platform or a research supplier is a complex process with a lot of downside. We will develop a rubric which will keep your process focused on satisfying your exact needs.

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and think what nobody has thought.


Get In Touch

☎   (857) 452-1648


There are things you need to know.

So you decide to do a research project. 

Only you don't really have a budget for anything 'scientific'.

Or so you think.

You are in a new city. How do you get around?

You can pay to be chauffeured everywhere.

Or you can rent a car, get a map, and go anywhere you want.  

'Scientific' doesn't mean a stretch limo. 

'Scientific' means not lost. 

Here's where you get the map. 



Have you seen those "take our survey" pleas on the bottom of supermarket receipts?  We are the nerds who take those surveys to see if they are well done.

We have spent years in consumer research, conducted hundreds of studies, and are very sensitive about things like double-barreled questions.


Ilya Vedrashko

Before founding Firestarters, Ilya ran a consumer insights department that he had built at a big advertising agency where he worked with such brands as Bank of America, Chili's, CVS, MLB, Dunkin' Donuts, and many others.  Before that, he founded a brand research lab while pursuing a master's degree at MIT.

Ilya studies the evolutionary development of human motives and their role in influencing our consumption choices.


Blair designs and executes strategic research that guides branding and communication strategies for Fortune 500 companies. She applies her background in behavioral economics to solve problems that range from identifying coffee drinkers' motives from their Instagram photos to driving early cancer screening by modulating the emotional intensity of ad copy. 

Blair studied psychology at Duke University and is a Senior Fellow at Stanford Lab for Behavioral Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 


Rob St.Louis

Rob is an expert in behavioral science, machine learning, and advanced statistical methods.

In his academic research at Brown, the University of Chicago, and UCSD, Rob has developed new Bayesian nonparametric learning models for partially observable Markov decision processes, identified how heterogenous effects bias psychological experiments, and explored new techniques for improving self-control.

Kate O'Connell

Kate has designed and implemented studies to develop, monitor, and evaluate health programs across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. With a background in psychology, she has investigated a variety of behaviors to provide evidence to inform decisions and strategy. Some of her research includes understanding condom preferences among sex workers, measuring the performance of private and public sector medicine markets, and determining what constitutes a good quality of life among palliative care patients.
Kate holds a PhD and masters from the University of Bath, England and a masters from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.