Q&A with FindTheBest co-founder and CEO Kevin O’Connor about helping consumers make better decisions
FindTheBest is a web-based decision making and comparison engine for consumers. It was founded by Kevin O’Connor, the founder of online ad giant DoubleClick (eventually acquired by Google). The Santa Barbara, California–based company was established in August of last year, and just closed a $6 million funding round.
SUB: Please briefly describe what FindTheBest is, and the value proposition you are offering consumers.
O’Connor: FindTheBest is a powerful tool to make quick and informed decisions, without the marketing hype. It presents the facts and provides easy-to-use filters so you can find what is best for you.
FindTheBest is like a personal assistant for all the big decisions in life. The web has become riddled with clutter, scams and advertising hype. We remove all of that and give you apples to apples comparisons on products and services. We compare everything from venture capital firms to dog breeds to auto insurance.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
O’Connor: The thousands of niche decision engines.
SUB: What differentiates FindTheBest from your competitors (or from those offering similar services)?
O’Connor: FindTheBest has a powerful engine. In the same way DoubleClick built one of the most powerful platforms to help advertisers make better decisions, we’ve now created a powerful platform that helps consumers make better decisions.
What consumers will notice is that FindTheBest is a consumer advocate; a site they can trust to help them make decisions. Right now, I’d say that’s pretty rare on the web.
SUB: How are you marketing the service?
O’Connor: We’ve done very little marketing. FindTheBest’s belief is that if we build a site that is easy to use, cuts out the clutter and brings consumers the facts, it will become a standard tool in their search box.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind FindTheBest? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea longer in developing?
O’Connor: A couple years ago, I became increasingly frustrated and disappointed with the Internet. I could find endless amounts of information on any subject but when I had a complicated decision to make, I found myself wasting hours, or even days, compiling information I could compare. Or, I found sites offering their “top 10” recommendations, only to discover they were secretly getting “kickbacks” from the sites they were recommending.
While compiling excel sheets to make decisions on everything from college for my kids to what dog to buy, I realized the process in making a decision is basically the same for everything. That’s when I realized I could probably build a platform to assist human curation in bringing all this data together in an easy to consumer format.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
O’Connor: We launched about a year ago, August 2010. A year prior to that is when I had my aha moment and started working with Scott Leonard, the Deputy CTO at DoubleClick, to build the technology.
SUB: You recently raised $6 million in outside funding. How do you plan to use the funds?
O’Connor: We’re growing quickly—we’ll be hiring more engineers, researchers and product managers as well as enhancing our technology.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise additional outside funding?
O’Connor: You raise money when you can. This was the second tranche of the funding we received in December 2010.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more funding in the near future?
O’Connor: Probably not.
SUB: What have the biggest obstacles been so far to building FindTheBest?
O’Connor: FindTheBest has taken on a big challenge—organizing comparison search across a wide variety of verticals, and I hope to have an impact on making comparison search better and better for consumers. A lot of people said it can’t be done. I questioned it too, but we’re doing it.
SUB: Where do you see FindTheBest in about a year from now?
O’Connor: Every day we refine the decision-making process, making it more and more intuitive, adding topics and tools that will assist consumers.
At DoubleClick we learned that considered purchase is the most valuable point for an advertiser. FindTheBest has lots of valuable advertising real estate and lots of valuable content. We’ll definitely be looking at how to best move towards a revenue model but we’ll always be 100 percent transparent. Similar to Google, ads will have an obvious spot and FTB content will stay free of marketing hype.
FindTheBest – www.findthebest.com