Starting a Shopping Search Engine
Interview with the Co-Founders of Sortprice
Competing against big players in the competitive world of online shopping might sound like a daunting task, but the entrepreneurs at Sortprice are doing just fine.
Doron Simovitch and Asaf Klibansky launched SortPrice in 2004, and they currently run the business from their Wall Street offices in New York City.
We caught up with them to find out a little more about what they are doing at Sortprice and how their entrepreneurial experience has been so far.
Doron and Asaf, thanks for participating in one of our entrepreneur interviews. Tell us about your current business. For those who are not familiar with Sortprice, what are you doing exactly?
Doron: Sortprice is a shopping search engine and shopping price comparison service offering consumers millions of products from thousands of retailers and merchants of every size and scope. The biggest unique feature on Sortprice for shoppers is the "Shop, Drag, and Drop" feature which allows the user to drag product icons into a list for easy comparisons and a comprehensive shopping experience.
Asaf: That's what we do in a nutshell, but there are a number of things that make us unique. For merchants, for example, unlike the majority of our competitors, we offer a monthly flat free pricing model which ensures that all merchants...from the larger ones to the 'mom and pop' outfits...get an equal opportunity to compete. Most comparison price services use a "pay per click" model instead, which charges them every time someone clicks on their item and can lead to click-fraud and a smaller profit margin. Our merchants on the whole love and value our method.
You are co-founders. How do you divide up your day-to-day responsibilities?
Doron: It's pretty simple. I am CEO and Asaf is CTO. We are both very hands-on with the company.
What were you doing before this and how did you decide to start Sortprice?
Doron: I was a former online merchant myself, so I learned a lot about what it's like to be a merchant trying to reach consumers on the Web.
Asaf: I've been writing code for years in various capacities. At this stage, I can say that I've got something of a distinguished background in computer programming and consulting. We started this business because we both knew there was a way to offer merchants a better model of advertising and shoppers a fun resource for finding things they want at the best price.
Where did you get the startup money?
Doron: We are self-funded. What we have accomplished to date has been done without any formal venture capital financing.
That's impressive. So who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
Asaf: The main competitors are companies like pricegrabber.com, Shopzilla, and shopping portals at internet providers like AOL and MSN.
As discussed earlier, we offer merchants a fairer pricing model than pay-per-click which can be manipulated and scammed in any number of ways to the detriment of the merchant. Additionally, the "Shop, Drag, Drop" feature and the brand new Wishlist application for Facebook are completely unique to Sortprice.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Doron: The merchants really appreciate the model and the product sells itself. That's been a pleasant surprise. We expected it to have to work harder to get merchants on board.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Asaf: In hindsight, I think we would have explored our hosting options early on a little bit more.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Doron: Off the bat, we hire good people who believe in Sortprice and can promote it in the enthusiastically. This includes our sales and support team right up to our marketing and public relations.
Additionally, we've ensured that all of our merchants are certified as legitimate to put our shoppers' minds at ease, while offering the merchants themselves a fiscally responsible option for expanding their reach and customer base.
Asaf: And of course, we like to think we've brought some fun to the online shopping experience.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Doron: Bring your pillow to work. Competing with industry giants day to day is not an easy task.
That's very true, but a nimble and hard-working small player can often beat the big guys. You guys seem to be proving that's possible. Doran and Asaf, thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, and good luck in growing your business to the next level.
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