Featured Startup Pitch: Pikimal—on a mission to save the web from marketing

By Editor July 19, 2011

Pikimal logo 

Company: Pikimal

Website: www.pikimal.com

Founders: Eric Silver

Headquarters: Pittsburgh, PA

Year Founded: 2010

Employees: 13

Twitter: @Pikimal

Brief Company Description: “Pikimal is a decision engine, using only facts, that allows users to sort, compare and determine the most important products for them.”

Eric Silver, PikimalBy Eric Silver, founder and CEO

Product Overview

Pikimal is a decision engine that allows users to sort, compare and determine the most important products for them. We use only facts—no marketing, bias or opinion—to help users find the best product or choice for them.

Our mission is to help consumers make the best buying decisions. From data that is scattered, vast, and technocratic, we gather it all in one place behind an intuitive interface aimed for use by everyday shoppers. We help users choose amongst brands and types of products, allowing users to find the product that best suits individual needs and preferences. Through our website, consumers interact with product Pikis, or web applications, which convey each product’s qualities, specifications and features. The Piki allows the user to select how important each feature and specification is to the user, and, upon adjustment, the Piki determines the products that best match the user’s preferences. Behind each Piki is a current, comprehensive database of products generated from available information.

We feature a collection of more than 200 product Pikis, and seek to build accurate, up-to-date Pikis that address a wide range of products. We aim to suit the needs of various demographics of consumers and looks to grow and change to best address users’ needs.

Founder’s Story

My name is Eric Silver and I am the founder and CEO of Pikimal.

While studying marketing at CMU’s school for business, I came to the realization that we are all kind of being hacked by marketing. This insight offended me and I was surprised that everyone was so used to it. In an attempt to change this, I came up with the idea that would eventually become Pikimal—to get more facts available to people and allow them to identify what’s right for them with those facts. The idea stewed while I finished school and worked at both McKinsey and ModCloth. Eventually, the idea couldn’t be contained, and Pikimal was founded with the hope of making money helping people make better decisions, in February, 2010.

When people talk about good places to start a fledgling company, not many think of Pittsburgh. It still suffers from an “old world” feel—at the junction of three rivers, Pittsburgh was a place for industry, unionization, Pinkertons, coal and steel—a legacy writ so large that it looms over the city like the smog it has displaced.

The truth, though, is that as coal has left, the legacy of the magnates of the past has remained in libraries, hospitals, companies, universities and museums. The rich history of Pittsburgh has created an ecosystem of talented businessmen, numerous and talented small-company incubators and a rich class of brilliant students. I stayed in Pittsburgh to start the company because I like the culture and I like the people.

I named the company Pikimal for a few reasons. We’re building Pikis to be like Wikis. Right now on the site users can use their own preferences to build their own decisions. They can share with other users and we learn what is most important to our users and are able to give better recommendations. Pikimal can also be thought of as “pick all of everything” or “pick them all.” This shows that we have a wide scope of what people value, from amusement parks to universities. And it was available, so that counted for a lot.

What Makes Pikimal Different?

It’s not like there is a shortage of ways to find things online, right? That’s kind of the problem in itself. With so many ways to find a new dishwasher—from Google, to reviews, to social recommendations and back to Google—why make a new one? Well, what makes Pikimal stand out from the competition is the ability for users to navigate products and search for the right one using only facts. No bias, marketing or hype can affect Pikimal’s rankings when it comes to products. Our algorithm looks at facts and that’s it! Even a step above, we actually allow users to determine how important a fact is to them, overall, using sliders that alter the weights of facts in the algorithm. It’s the first time someone has ever been able to seek out products not by sorting or comparing, but saying just how important certain features or specifications are in comparison to others.

Marketing and Promotion Strategy

Here at Pikimal, we don’t employ any single, specific marketing strategy. Instead, our company focuses on adding features and optimizing the site to offer the greatest benefit to users. Our employees engage in outreach to niche communities to ensure that Pikis have the best possible information and offer the most to their visitors. Soon, we plan to implement an award system to let manufacturers know in what categories their products are winning in relation to their competitors.

Business Model

At Pikimal we help channel users to vendors that offer the products that they choose to be the best. No products are ever recommended above others and, eventually, we’d like to not even prefer specific vendors where possible. Beyond the affiliate relationship with vendors, we employ minimal site advertising, and are looking forward to someday working with product manufactures to help better understand the needs and wants of the consumers. We also hope to find how important certain things are when making decisions.

Current Needs

Right now we need brilliant people that feel the same way we do. We need people who are passionate about saving the web from marketing and want to build something great.

Pikimal – www.pikimal.com