DecideQuick - Search Engine for Product Reviews
Started by a bunch of six entrepreneurs, DecideQuick Services Pvt. Ltd is a search engine that rates products people want to buy by scouring information across the Internet.
DecideQuick, which launched in January last year, rates practically any product and service including consumer goods and restaurants on three counts: expert opinions, views of the user’s friends on social media sites such as Facebook and views of the general public on the Internet. The search engine gives equal importance to expert and friends’ opinions and lower weight to public opinion.
“What we do through our technology is that we cut down the work in making decisions. Our search engine goes around the web, and in just under 60 seconds, captures the data, analyses it and gives it to you,” said Arjun S., one of the founders of the Thiruvananthapuram-based start-up.
“The advantage is that the results are highly personalized and we allow users to ask for everything. We’ve had users who asked us: should I use marijuana or cocaine? Of course, we block these kind of questions but you can basically ask anything. Mobiles, movies and cameras are the most popular categories. Consumer goods like sporting goods are also popular,” Arjun said.
The idea of the start-up was provided by Shameer Thaha, a Dubai-based entrepreneur who teamed up with his friends, Jayasooryan K.V. and Karthik Sundarajoo, both of whom had worked with Thaha. Thaha brought on three others, including the then 18-year-old engineering student Arjun whom he met at Kochi’s Startup Village, a not-for-profit business incubator.
Thaha is the leader, responsible for building the team; Jayasooryan heads the technology team; Sundarajoo handles marketing; Arjun works in the tech team and is in charge of sales; the other two Aravind Ajith and Amal Babu are in charge of the website interface and social media, respectively.
Though DecideQuick hasn’t generated any revenue so far, it received seed funding of as much as $100,000 from Next Big Idea Incubators.
“We’re not currently monetizing. We’re focusing on increasing our users, increasing the value of the service. We have offers for advertising but we haven’t taken them up yet. The reason is simple, it’s the same reason WhatsApp doesn’t do advertising. It’s about making the service great and building the value of the service. If you advertise it gives the impression that that’s the reason the site is there. It’s a matter of credibility,” Arjun said.
DecideQuick’s future revenue streams include getting money from e-commerce sites such as Flipkart and Snapdeal to host the company’s application programming interface on their sites, which would allow users to directly get DecideQuick’s rating for a particular product on those sites.
“We also have a lot of social media data. We’re one of the few companies in the consumer big data space. There are a lot of companies in the corporate big data space but very few in the consumer big data space,” Arjun said.
He said the company was in the process of raising the next round of funds of $1.5-2 million from investors in the UAE and the US. The company is also not averse to being acquired. Decide.com, which provides similar services, was recently acquired by eBay.
“We have an exit strategy and (getting acquired) is an option but probably not in the next one or two years,” Arjun said.
DecideQuick is now facing problems that most start-ups struggle with: recruiting talented people and scaling up.
“Early this year, we took over the product side (which was earlier outsourced). That’s when things got difficult in terms of hiring. We’re talking to people right from freshers to industry experts who might want to come and work for no salary but maybe for a stake in the company. Scaling up is also tough. Seventy-five percent of our users currently are friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends. How to push this 75% down and push up the 25% is the challenge we’re dealing with,” he said.
Arjun studied ICSE at Trivandrum’s St. Thomas Residential Central School and is now pursuing engineering at the city’s SCT college.
“But frankly, I’m not relying much on college. My focus is start-ups. But I miss the college life. I don’t get time to hang out much with my college mates. But that’s the sacrifice you make,” he said.
DecideQuick is not his first start-up. He ran an IT services company called Cedar Info Solutions when he was in school, though that start-up shut down when DecideQuick was launched.
“We didn’t know anything then. We made some money, we made a lot of mistakes and learnt a lot—more importantly. I learnt the fear of failure is the worst thing that can affect you. You need to trust your instinct and judgement and take calculated risk,” he said.
Arjun’s parents—his dad is an engineer working for the government and his mother is a teacher—aren’t thrilled with his pursuit of entrepreneurship, especially at his age. They tried to change his mind and get him to drop entrepreneurship, but eventually made peace with his decision due to his persistence.
“My mom understands students better so she’s ok. She understands this is the life I’ve chosen. My parents tried to stop me and there were differences of opinion but I asserted that this was what I’ve chosen and now things are ok.”
This post was first published by Mint, a strategic partner of TATA First Dot, and can be accessed here.