A Q&A with Vizibility founder and CEO James Alexander. The New York City–based company was founded in 2009.
SUB: Please explain what Vizibility is, and the value proposition you offer to individuals and companies.
Alexander: Individuals and companies only get one chance to make a killer first impression, and Vizibility SearchMe Buttons, links and QR codes allow them to make it happen by providing a way to curate and share online identities. With Vizibility, users can create and manage personalized Google search results, professional profiles and contact information. SearchMe Buttons and links are primarily used online to direct viewers to user-controlled information. QR codes are typically used on printed items such as business cards, resumes, presentations or marketing material to direct viewers to online business cards or microsites via mobile device or smartphone scans.
A new Vizibility feature, CommonConnections, integrates personal QR codes with LinkedIn and Facebook. This allows users to embed their social graphs into their Vizibility QR codes and use social networks as real-time, instant reputation-building tools.
Vizibility is a powerful tool for professionals like lawyers, accountants and managers. It’s a great tool for job seekers, the vast majority of whom will be subject to online searches by potential employers or recruiters. It’s also useful in managing online identities for searches related to potential dates, business partners, employees and anyone who receives media attention. People with common names or who share a name with someone else should use Vizibility. Basically, everyone who wants to manage their online identity should give it a try.
SUB: How does the technology behind Vizibility work?
Alexander: We’ve vastly simplified the complexity around advanced Google searches. Fewer than 5 percent of users access Google’s advanced search feature because it’s complex. We developed an algorithm and an easy-to-use wizard that allows users to quickly create an advanced, personalized search for themselves, put results in the right order and get alerts when they’re Googled or when their business card is scanned.
Our latest innovation is the social network connection pre-authorization (patent pending) that powers CommonConnections, which allows users to embed their social graphs into their smartphone-scannable personal Vizibility QR codes and use Facebook and LinkedIn as real-time networking tools.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Alexander: No other company is producing free SearchMe buttons, links or QR codes that deliver one-click results like we are. It’s possible for users to cobble together tools to manage online identities, but no one offers updates and easy management features like Vizibility does. No one else offers a portal that enables firms to easily manage many online professional identities.
SUB: What do you offer that differentiates Vizibility from your competitors or from companies with similar offerings?
Alexander: One thing that makes us unique is our partnership strategy, which turns potential rivals into partners. In simple terms, our goal is to become the online brand management “dial tone”—a utility that individuals, companies and partners use to manage online identities or help their customers manage online identities. We’ve partnered with numerous brand management companies to serve in this role.
We provide a way for individuals and companies to manage mobile identities through scannable QR codes and online identities through links and buttons. We also provide notifications and metrics that allow users to collect data and act on the results.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind Vizibility?
Alexander: The inspiration for Vizibility hit when I couldn’t find myself in Google. I’m a guy with two first names. The search results brought up many irrelevant links, and the relevant links were buried several pages deep. I thought there had to be a better way to control search results. What I wanted was a ‘Google me’ button—a one click link to just my online identity. That’s what we have built.
SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Alexander: The company was founded in mid-2009. The first steps were to validate the problem and our solution through discussions and customer interviews. We started building the product prototype in late 2009 and launched the service in beta in early 2010.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building Vizibility?
Alexander: Given the timeframe of our founding—which occurred right after the financial markets nearly collapsed—funding has been the most significant obstacle. And we’re not alone. But because we offer a truly novel and necessary technology, we’ve been able to generate interest and seed money despite the challenging economic conditions.
SUB: You recently raised $1.3 million in seed funding—how do you plan to use the funds?
Alexander: Our plan is to use the seed funding primarily on marketing and sales. We’re growing fast and want to increase our momentum. We also plan to use the money to develop and enhance our products.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise new funding?
Alexander: Actually, it’s still a challenging time to raise capital because of economic conditions. But we were successful for a couple of reasons. First, the latest round was a follow-on round, so we had previous investors serving as champions. Second, we had made incredible progress executing against our business plan so we had an attractive story to tell.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
Alexander: No. With two successful funding rounds, we think we have what we need to meet the company’s financial requirements into mid-2012.
SUB: What big goals do you have for Vizibility over the next year or so?
Alexander: I can sum it up in two words: generate revenue. We have the proof of concept. We have resources for sales and marketing. Our primary focus now is on building a strong base of satisfied customers and growing revenue.
Vizibility – www.vizibility.com