Hi, I’m a day late this week, I was swamped. This week we added a bunch of smaller companies and thought a lot about our eventual business model.
This week we worked on search, though I don’t think we made any actual changes, and next week we will be working on front end stuff. We found a competitor site that is aimed at Canadian products, and despite them being a lot smaller and having very inaccurate information, we were surprised at how much easier it was to use when you can browse extensively. So we are working on making something similar, where you see a lot more products and can browse through them, and then will get back to making our search results more accurate after. We have 2 main issues with the search currently, when we don’t have great results we tend to show too many irrelevant products, and when we do have great results no one really knows because you only see 10. For example for jeans or mattresses we have hundreds of great results, from dozens of different companies, and yet using our extension you would never know. So we will go and make the experience for searches like that awesome, and then will wheel back and improve the more difficult tweaking to make the search work better.
We actually had negative listing growth this week, because I focused on small companies and we had a bug that removed a few thousand previously classified ones. The bug is fixed, and then the plethora of small companies I’ve added has had a very positive effect on our listing variety. We are currently taking baby steps towards new methods of research. What we have been doing so far is we grabbed every list we could find of American manufacturers, and we have been verifying them ourselves. However we are approaching the end of that list, at least in the next couple of months, and finding and adding new lists is not very effective because of the duplicates. Instead we will be trying to find categories we are lacking and research them specifically.
A low traffic week. I did a wave of posts on Facebook, but I’ve realised I did it at the wrong time of day. When I posted in the morning, instead of the night like last time, the results were way better. I also haven’t been focused on getting new users. We’ve got a solid beta tester group now that we get information from and the venues we need to improve are pretty clear. We’ve been working on that and will pivot back to working on getting users once our extension works better.
The most interesting thing we have been working at this week is figuring our how we will make money and what our product should look like. We have a ton of people asking for a Firefox version, mobile version and/or website version. We found another site/extension combo, Hunter.io, that shares a lot of similarities with us, and will do something similar to them. They collect emails, so if you want to contact a company and don’t want to hunt down their emails you go to Hunter.io and put in the domain and they tell you the email addresses they’ve found. Even though we are in very different fields, the information we collect is very similar. In that we don’t really interpret the information we get, we find out if they comply to the FTC standard and then we publish it. Just like Hunter.io, every competitor we have would love to get our data. We are at least 10X as large as the nearest competitor, and we are 100X bigger than most. We’ve spent a huge amount of time and energy making the biggest list of American made products that exists, and we want to make sure other people can’t copy it easily. So what we are thinking about now is a website with 3 tiers. A tier where you don’t sign in and get extremely limited information or incomplete information. A tier where you need to sign in but get access to a lot more information, and then a paid, signed in tier where you can see all our information, The problem arises with monetising this. The amount of affiliate revenue a company gets from Amazon is minuscule, and I’ve heard they don’t like extensions like ours and we very possibly would not even be eligible for any affiliate revenue unless we gutted our extension. It’s also that will this be good enough for people to return? Catalog sites have been around for 25 years, people who research made in the USA products and display it through their website, earning revenue either advertising or affiliate revenue. They all suck because they don’t make anywhere near enough money to have researchers to make a large enough database to make the shopping experience good, they just don’t have enough products. If we go this route, maybe our product list won’t be good enough to get return visitors and we will end up like all those other catalog sites.
Let me know if you’ve got any thoughts, t’ill next week!