Does VC need to use “mystery shoppers” like the hedge funds did? — JA | planning + analysis

Janelle Alexander
2 min readJan 19, 2023


Point of Information: what’s a Mystery Shopper?

A Mystery Shopper is a type of field researcher who poses as a regular customer to evaluate the performance of salespeople, customer service representatives, and other elements of customer experience (CX). I’m using this term somewhat cheekily. More broadly, this is “On-site Market Research,” and it’s not just for CX. This “boots on the ground” approach is also used to observe everything from number of cars in the parking lot (demand) and product placement (go to market strategy), to sales promotions (pricing) and cashier waiting times (operations). The data coming from these projects is used by companies to evaluate performance, but also by securities research analysts, hedge funds, private equity funds, and other institutional investors for due diligence.


Given that much of venture is tech, this kind of centered around the end user, “on-site” market research would have to be recalibrated. (What’s the SaaS equivalent of “number of cars in the parking lot” to evaluate true demand/traction? Real-time feed into the AWS account? 🧐)


Assuming we can design and execute high-quality, appropriate-for-VC research studies using the “Mystery Shopper” approach:

  1. What would they look like?
  2. Should VC start doing it? For due diligence? For portfolio monitoring? For both? (Is anyone you know already doing it?)

Originally published at on January 19, 2023.



Janelle Alexander

I-Banker turned founder/coder/VC. I do post-investment analysis (KPIs, models, etc.) on startups for VCs. Also: lover of language, chess, & green skincare.