Kevin Ryan, former CEO of DoubleClick online advertising firm and one of the original 1990’s Internet pioneers, is now firmly in Web 2.0 territory with his start-up comparison shopping search engine and community buying guide, ShopWiki.
I spoke with Kevin Ryan, ShopWiki CEO & Co-Founder, by phone to discuss the ShopWiki business model and learn about a new “user-generated video review” service the company is announcing today.
Last year Ryan, Dwight Merriman (DoubleClick's former CEO and former CTO, respectively) and Eliot Horowitz founded ShopWiki in New York City with the goal of “indexing everything that can be bought online.” The first year of operations was dedicated to building out the technology platform and building up a base of shopping editorial content.
According to ShopWiki:
ShopWiki is a shopping search engine designed to help consumers find specific products on the Internet with ease. It is the only shopping search engine that combines advanced Web crawling technology with consumer-written wiki buying guides to help shoppers make the most informed buying decisions.
ShopWiki does not sell any products. We simply help our users find the best deals on the Internet. ShopWiki actively crawls the Internet to find and organize the widest selection of products from more than 120,000 merchants. Our intelligent search capabilities let shoppers look for products using natural language searches, without limiting the parameters.
ShopWiki is also a community of shoppers that care about price, quality and precise information. Our wiki buying guides aim to help users make informed decisions when purchasing products. The users are able to edit, change and add to any buying or gift guide to ensure other community members are given the most accurate, up-to-date information available.
ShopWiki officially launched to the public about two months ago and has since been adding service enhancements at a steady pace. Last month “Search by Color” functionality was integrated into the service and “Mobile Shopping Search” was launched earlier this month.
Today, the firm is introducing “User-Generated Video Review” functionality and to jump start user contributions is “encouraging quality submissions by paying $50 for each of the first 500 videos selected to appear on the site.”
While ShopWiki enters a crowded comparison shopping space and has the added challenge of developing and sustaining an engaged and contributing user community, Ryan believes the ShopWiki technology platform will set it apart.
Given the ShopWiki founding team’s DoubleClick background, a technology differentiation strategy is not surprising. ShopWiki is not differentiating itself in terms of its monetization strategy, however; ShopWiki is relying on Google AdSense advertsing for revenues.
ShopWicki is self-funded by its partners and employs about 30 people.