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June 22, 2009

Will Crowdstorm Take the Consumer Internet by Storm?

Filed under: Start-up Companies Reviews — admin @ 6:06 am

The growing consumer internet industry always takes unique turns and new companies that offer different consumer services are constantly appearing in this growing market. Introducing Crowdstorm, a website that lets you ask the crowd anything about a consumer product and find it at bargain prices. Crowdstorm is a social network for consumers to be able to find the right product for themselves without doing the time consuming research and searching. The way it works is that you need to sign into the website, and it is easy and free. All you need to do is to enter your first and last name, email address and type in a password, and you are in. When you register onto this site, you also have the option to upload a photograph of yourself and invite friends to join you in this network. Once you have signed in, you can first browse products by category. For example, suppose you want to buy some shoes. Click on the footwear icon on the top right hand corner of the website, you will see a small picture of a boot and a hyperlink next to it that would read “footwear.” You will then come to a page that will ask you what type of footwear you want to buy. You can ask the crowd, find out what the best selling footwear is available, etc. Suppose you want to narrow your search and you want to buy a pair of Nike running shoes. You can first click on the best sellers, or any of the other choices that appear after you click on the footwear icon. If you do not find what you want there, you can also type in “Nike Running Shoes” in the search bar at the top of the website. Sometimes, you might need to narrow the search down. Suppose you want Nike men’s running shoes, then enter Nike men’s running shoes into the search bar. You can also type in a general term, such as Nike in the search bar to find it, but that might also not yield the results you are looking for. If you try Nike shoes, you also yield low results. This means, that Crowdstorm may not be exactly what it cracks itself out to be. Search queries seem to be limited and not much variety. This could be because Crowdstorm is a new company and not enough people have logged on and placed reviews on all products yet, time will tell.

Another drawback to Crowdstorm is that, even though it has offices in both the United States and in the United Kingdom, prices appear in British pounds. This is fine, if you live in England, but for most American consumers, who rarely travel abroad, this means that they would have to do quite a bit of math to figure out the price in US dollars. This may detract American consumers from using this site.

Crowdstorm is also a rather small company that has only two people on its management team. These people include the company’s founder and CEO, Phil Wikinson; and the company’s CTO, Oli Godby.

Mr. Wikinson is one of the most successful and influential online entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom. Before he founded Crowdstorm, he founded Shopgenie, which is a website that is also aimed at online consumers. Mr. Wikinson got his claim to fame for founding another company, however. Kelkoo UK is what made Mr. Wikinson famous. Kelkoo has since become part of Yahoo!, but it was a great achievement for Mr. Wikinson. Mr. Wikinson also has experience in telecommunications and broadband internet and worked at TeleWest as their Commercial Manager at the company’s BlueYonder Broadband Internet division.

Mr. Godby takes care of all the technical needs of Crowdstorm. Mr. Godby has deep experience with internet and telecommunications, and has the technical knowledge to work out all the glitches in the system. Before coming to Crowdstorm, Mr. Gody worked at Spinvox, Ltd., where he served as a senior web and middleware developer.

Crowdstorm’s sole investor is Battery Venture Partners, which invested $1 million in seed funding in January 2008. Battery Ventures is both a vc and a private equity firm that mainly focuses its investments on companies who have a product prototype or intellectual property that shows a promising market. Other companies in Battery’s portfolio include A Place for Mom, AQdvent Solar, Donnerwood Media, ExactTarget, and others.

Crowdstorm does have a few competitors. One of Crowdstorm’s biggest competitors is Kaboodle, which is also an online social network that provides a similar service to that of Crowdstorm. Kaboolde is based in Sunnyvale, California and was founded in 2005. Kaboodle is a subsidiary of Hearst Digital Media and has four people on its management team.

Another noteworthy competitor of Crowdstorm is Sazze, which offers a website where shoppers can post reviews of different consumer products. Sazze was founded in Pleasanton, California in 2007. Sazze is a corporation.

For more information about Crowdstorm, click here.

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